3 Months Later . . . This Blog Post is Waaaay Overdue

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Remember my last blog post where I promised to post quality blog posts? Neither do I. That was 3 months ago. I only know this because I went back and read my last blog post to see where the heck I left off before disappearing from the blogosphere.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

At the end of April my mother passed away from liver cancer. After two years of battling it out, she finally gave up the fight. Thankfully, her family was with her in her final moments, an experience I wouldn’t have passed up for anything.

But for the first time in my life, I found myself unable to push through. Work became hard. Life became hard. Forget writing and editing. Everything had to step aside for grief.

I recently saught out the help of a therapist to help me work though my grief. I’ve also returned hard and heavy to the gym, which has helped improve my mood and sense of motivation tremendously.

I am happy to return to the blogosphere. I forsee blogging being an excellent outlet for me right now and hope you will all just bear with me.

I’m looking forward to catching up on your posts as well. I’ve been away from the online writing community for far too long. I can’t wait to get back on schedule and interact again. I’ve missed you guys so much!

Before I go, a big thank you to everyone who reached out to me via WordPress and Twitter to offer their support and condolences. That meant a lot to me.

THANK YOU!!!!!

It could afford to be bigger . . . but you get the picture. Well, that’s all for now. See you all again on Friday!

My Favorite Writerly Things

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Fingers on keyboard and judgement from kittens
Bright neon notebooks where words will be written
Brown cups of coffee turned lighter with cream
These are a few of my favorite writerly things

And here are a few more:

Writerly Weather

I’ve seen a lot of writers comment that rainy days are ideal for them to write. Not for me. Rainy days are lazy days. The most I can hope to accomplish (besides staying awake) is reading a chapter or two from my favorite book. For me, sunny days are the best days for writing. The sun lights my writing space and keeps me in a positive, productive mood.

Novelty Pens

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially when it has a bobble on top. Whether it’s neon colored, topped with a feather, or odd-shaped, a novelty pen inspires me to write. My favorite pens right now are my Inside Out pens which allow me to write in colors that express my current mood. (Current mood is yellow).

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!

Or just caffeine in general. Though, in all honesty, my favorite caffeinated drink is coffee. My favorite roast is the House Blend Roast from Starbucks. I just grounded a fresh batch so we’re all set for the weekend. Star Wars coffee creamers make it even better.

Cats

Where would a writer be without their feline companion. Critic more like. Cats have a tendency to sit near the computer screen, narrow their eyes at the screen, and cast judgement. I know my cats do. They also like to sit on the keyboard, inserting strange gibberish into my writing. But I don’t know where I’d be without them.

My Computer

I used to draft all of my novels on notebooks, but my hand started cramping too much. Plus, my desire to go back and scratch out everything I just wrote became too great. Now I do all of my work on the computer. It’s my notebook, my radio, and my social outlet. If it died today my world would just end.

Notebooks

Even though I do all of my writing on the computer, I still like to complete my outlines in notebooks, especially cute ones with pictures of cats or Disney characters on the front. Neon ones are also fun. There’s something about that binder in hand and the immediate connection between the mind and the paper that makes thoughts come easier. Don’t you think?

Movie Soundtracks

Most of the time I write in silence . . . unless my nephew is up and about. LOL. In that case, I try to drown out the sound of Legos crashing and action figures smashing with music. Movie soundtracks are my favorite, especially instrumental numbers. Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, and Yo Yo Ma are some of my favorite composers.

Books

For good measure, I like to keep a pile of books nearby . . . for no apparent reason other than looking like an author. LOL. Actually, I like to keep references near at hand just in case. I hate getting up out of my seat.

Useless Geegaw

I like to keep my desk cluttered with useless geegaw. Whether it’s a Funko Pop Vinyl figure or a Lucky Cat figurine, if it’s in my way it’s making my day!

Motivational Quotes

I have a tack-board just above my desk covered in photos, business cards, and motivational quotes to keep me inspired.

Well, that’s about it for me. What are your favorite writerly things? Feel free to share in the comments below. And as always have a wonderful weekend!

Friday Fun: Fill in the Blanks

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Let’s play a game. No, not a love game. A writing game. If your week has gone anything like mine, you’re probably in need of a break and a little fun.

Here’s how to play: Read the questions below and fill in the blanks. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Most importantly, have fun!


The best part of being a writer is [blank].

The worst part of being a writer is [blank].

If I wasn’t a writer I would be a [blank].

The best way to drink coffee is with [blank] cream and [blank] sugar.

My favorite beverage while I’m writing is [blank].

My favorite non-writing past time is [blank].

I like to nap for [blank] hours per day.

My main character’s name is [blank], but my favorite character’s name is [blank].

[Blank] is the book I wish I’d written.

Of all the stories I’ve written, [blank] is my favorite.

If I could incorporate any fictional character from some other work of fiction or film into mine it would be [blank] from [blank].

If I could bring any of my fictional characters to life it would be [blank].

On average, I write about [blank] words per day.

While I’m writing, I like to listen to [blank] for inspiration.

The author who most inspired my writing is [blank].

I would consider myself a [blank] writer.

The best word to describe my writing is [blank].

Sometimes, when I’m writing, I’d rather be [blank].


Not too hard, right? In case you’re curious, here are my answers to the questions:

The best part of being a writer is creating.

The worst part of being a writer is marketing.

If I wasn’t a writer I would be a well-rested person.

The best way to drink coffee is with 2 cream and 0 sugar.

My favorite beverage while I’m writing is coffee.

My favorite non-writing past time is reading.

I like to nap for 1 hours per day.

My main character’s name is Mongrel, but my favorite character’s name is Margo.

Empress by Karen Miller is the book I wish I’d written.

Of all the stories I’ve written, The Wizard’s Gambit is my favorite.

If I could incorporate any fictional character from some other work of fiction or film into mine it would be Tyrion from Game of Thrones.

If I could bring any of my fictional characters to life it would be Littlehammer. (She’s a hoot).

On average, I write about 1,000 words per day.

While I’m writing, I like to listen to movie soundtracks for inspiration.

The author who most inspired my writing is Terry Pratchett.

I would consider myself a decent writer.

The best word to describe my writing is supercalafajalistickexpialadojus.

Sometimes, when I’m writing, I’d rather be napping.


That’s all for now! I hope you had fun with this activity! Feel free to share your answers in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Fellow Writers, Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In, and Try Everything

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I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again
No I won’t leave, I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail

That’s just the chorus of Shakira’s (or should I say Gazelle’s?) new hit single, “Try Everything” which is featured in latest Disney movie Zootopia. Listen to the rest of the song and tell me it doesn’t inspire you keep plugging away on that work in progress?

I hope you enjoyed the video. It’s the only song I’ve been listening to recently to help me get through my workout and those painful bouts of writer’s block.

Happy Hump Day!

 

Social Networking Advice for the Antisocial

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Writing is a solitary endeavor, but does it have to be a lonely one? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s beneficial for writers to interact with other authors in order to exchange information, market their work, and build their readership. It literally pays for authors to be social.

While attending the weekly Business Professionals Meeting at Ivy Tech in Peru, I learned some advice on social networking that I thought applied to writers, not just business owners. And I’m going to share it with you!

Use Social Media to Connect with Authors, Editors, Agents, & Readers

Social networking doesn’t just happen in the “real world.” It happens wherever people interact. One of the most popular places people go to hangout is online. You already use Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with family and friends, so why not use these social media sites to meet other authors and new readers? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of them online. You can interact with others via private message or by replying to their posts. Sharing other people’s content is another great way to interact. Once you build a positive rapport, they will be more receptive to your marketing messages or requests for help.

Attend as Many “Real World” Events as Possible

Writers conferences, book fairs, local readings, book launches, and library events are great opportunities to network with authors and readers. Plus, they’re educational. Just keep in mind, it’s not about selling; it’s about making friends, and building a readership.

Bring Marketing Material

I always take a stack of business cards and/or bookmarks with me to events. In fact, I keep a stack of each in my car just in case I run into a new friend. That way, they have links to my social media sites and a reminder that we met. Let’s face it, no matter how cool you are, people get busy and might forget you. A bookmark is a great reminder.

Follow up

Meeting someone at a networking event or following someone online is just the first step in beginning a relationship. Take those business cards home and send an email, connect on Twitter, or send an invite for coffee or lunch. Main point: stay in touch. And be patient. I once knew a prospective reader one year before they finally bought a copy of my book. It only took 3 touches. They say a sale can take 7, so that’s pretty good.

Give a Little More than You Take

I am reminded of a really corny song from Dreamwork’s animated feature Joseph, King of Dreams. Whereas the song had nothing to do with the events in the movie, it applies greatly to networking. The most successful authors are the ones who give advice and promote others. Why? Because helping others encourages them to help you.

Give it Time

Take your time and grow your network organically. No fertilizer. Don’t be tempted to buy followers in order to reach your goal overnight. The most successful authors get to know their contacts one person at a time via small events and private chat. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.

I hope you found this advice as helpful as I did. Please feel free to share your own advice in the comments below. Have a great week!

Thank You For Being a Friend!

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My presentation is in less than 5 hours! Meanwhile, I’m scrambling to make last minute preparations which include finishing my PowerPoint! **Pulls hair out and screams**

I just want to pause a moment in the midst of preparations to say THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me recently and from the start. What success I have seen is all thanks to you!

So to all of my friends on WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter who have shared, supported, and cheered me on every step of the way:

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Words are not enough! Here’s a video that says it better:

 

Again, thank you! Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Random Confessions of a Modern Reader

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Happy Presidents’ Day and/or belated Valentine’s Day, whatever floats your boat. Personally, neither holiday inspired me to blog so, instead, I’m going to share with you some random confessions of mine as a reader.

Forgive me followers for I have sinned . . .

Confession #1: I’ve read Secret Sacrament by Sherryl Jordan at least 10 times

Secret Sacrament is a fantasy novel that centers around Gabriel, a boy with a haunting past who wants to become a healer. His adventures–or misadventures more appropriately–lead him to the wild Shinali people on the outskirts of the city-state. As sinister forces take control of the empire and threaten the peaceful Shinali, Gabriel’s destiny is revealed. From the synopsis, it sounds like a typical YA fantasy read, but it’s anything but. The main character is vulnerable and intelligent. He’s relatable to me on so many levels. Not only does he have a close relationship with his brother (like I do with my sister) but he also has a tender heart. The way he emotionally invests in every patient he heals reminds me of the way I am with my clients. Not only that, but he’s a coward. I too struggle with my own cowardice. Fear is a huge barrier for me. Reading Gabriel’s story and seeing him overcome his past, his fears, and his circumstances, inspired me to do the same. I think it’s a book I’ll be revisiting soon.

Confession #2: I like to read in my underwear

I’m not trying to be shocking or scandalous; I seriously think it’s really enjoyable to read a book in nothing but my Fruit of the Looms. (I’m actually more of a Haynes Her Way kind of girl). Sitting on the couch or sprawled in bed with a good book is an intimate experience. Why ruin it with clothes?

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Everything is better without pants

Confession #3: I prefer to read paperbacks over hardcover copies or ebooks

As an Indie author, the majority of my sales are ebooks unless I’m at an event, then the paperback copies move like hot cakes. And I do buy a lot of books for my Kindle device because they’re affordable, but I prefer a physical book in hand, more specifically a paperback one. I don’t like the weight of hardcover books. Paperbacks bend easy and fit just right between the palms of my hands. And the pages smell good. Nothing beats a paperback book.

Confession #4: I’ve never read Harry Potter . . . and don’t plan to

Hear me out before you burn me as a heretic. The books came out when I was entering high school, and personally I thought the story sounded juvenile. At the time, I was exploring the adult fantasy section of my local bookstore because my school library couldn’t carry books containing adult content. I was mature for my age and curious about the darker elements of life, which those books were not shy to share. Young Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts just didn’t interest me. If homicidal maniacs weren’t sleeping with their sisters and destroying entire cities I didn’t care to read it.

As an adult, the YA genre certainly appeals to me more, though I am still hesitant to pick up that series. Why? Mainly because of the villain. I can’t stomach dark lords, and I don’t care what people say, dark lords don’t make a series dark. Wizard schools are neat and magic is always fun, but dark lords are dreadfully tired. And before you even call me out, I know the LOTR series features a dark lord. He’s not my favorite villain either and the only reason I forgive it is because of when the novel was written. Post WWI and WWII, stories often featured villainous villains and centered around a battle of good versus evil. War inspires such things. But modern storytelling cannot rely on tired tropes and lazy writing.

While some of the major supporting characters tempt me to pick the series up, I’m still doubtful I will ever dive into the realm of Harry Potter.

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Dark lord, eh? No thanks

Confession #5: I prefer The Lord of the Rings film adaptations to the books

I know. Burn me at the stake. I deserve it. But as much as I enjoy Tolkien’s unique author’s voice and his beautiful descriptions of landscapes, I actually prefer Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the original trilogy. Why? Because of the characters. Peter Jackson focuses on the characters in the films, blowing up their personalities and making them absoltly lovable. Look at Gollum! Peter Jackson was so distant from them and focused on where and what they were doing, that I never got a good sense about who they were and what they were feeling, which is very important for me. I’m not saying the films are better; I’m just sharing my personal preference.

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You shall not pass judgment!

Confession #6: I only read for one hour a day

I like to think of myself as an avid reader since I read every day, but with mom’s illness, taking care of my nephew, working out,and writing my own novel, I don’t have more than one hour–if that–to devote to reading a day. When I was in high school it was nothing for me to read 5 or 6 hours straight, but now that I’m an adult with a full-time job and lots of responsibilities reading is just not something I can binge on anymore. Though that one hour or so I have to read is perhaps one of the best hours of my day.

Confession #7: I prefer traditionally published authors over indie authors . . . for the moment

I know as an indie author I should be ashamed, but so far I’ve been more satisfied by the traditional authors that I follow. Not to say there aren’t several indie authors I follow with excited anticipation, but they were hard-found in all the self-published sludge. Don’t get me wrong, I support indie authors–I am one–but I am constantly dissatisfied with the quality of their writing, writing that I know would excel that of the traditional authors if only they’d taken the proper steps in editing their works. With beta readers, content editors, and copy editors online, there’s no excuse for a poorly written story with redundant scenes and inconsistent characters. It’s the lack of serious editing that holds indie authors back.

Confession #8: I’d rather write than read

Don’t get me wrong; I love to read, but when I’m reading, I often become frustrated when the story doesn’t go my way. I’m not saying I could have written it better, but it’s nice to write the story you’d love to read and know it’s going to turn out just the way you wanted it to.

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I’d rather be writing

Confession #9: I only review a book when I hate it or love it

I’m like most readers; I only write a review when I’m inspired, or asked nicely to. It takes energy to construct a thorough review, and nothing inspires the words to flow like love or rage. When I love a book, I have to share it with the world! And when I hate a book, I feel compelled to warn others. Sometimes I don’t like books based on taste. This does not warrant a bad review. Only when I feel like the author didn’t try to put forth the proper effort do I dare a negative review. If there was any love or effort detected in the writing, I won’t write a flame review. I rarely write bad reviews. I have to really really hate a book to do that. Most of the time I write rave reviews, not to boost an author’s stats, but their self-esteem and encourage them to keep at it.

Confession #10: I never download free books, EVER!

As an indie author, I can’t support the giving away of free books when an author can profit on their hard work. I know I spend countless hours each week writing and editing my work. Not to mention the countless dollars I’ve spent for professional cover design and editing services. I loathe to imagine myself paying these off for years to come, so I make a point to purchase books at full price. Helping authors is what authors do best.

And those are my confessions. Boy, do I feel a heavy burden removed from my chest. Hopefully, I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but I just wanted to be perfectly honest. The blogosphere is like a confession box, but for readers, so hopefully you can forgive me for my reader sins. For fun, share with me some of your reading sins.

Have a good Monday, everyone, celebrating whatever holiday you prefer!