Monthly Archives: July 2017

Trendy Things…

I am going to preface this entry with saying that I am aware that I am a minority in this matter.  This post is simply my way of expressing my own view points and a sense of nostalgia for something that I haven’t yet been able to experience as an adult. I’ve mentioned before that I had very different views of what being an adult was going to be like when I was young. The dream has never left me. In fact, it has shaped the person I have become today.  That being said, I’m going to talk about some recent trends that I am seeing in entertainment that bother me. Note that I said bother and not offend.

I’ve been a part of a good many creative writing and book groups over the last several years. And I am perplexed by how much emphasis is placed on erotica. Now, I’m not talking about a steamy scene in the typical romance novel where you usually expect to find one or two of these scenes. I’m talking about the sort of stuff that is so explicit it might as well be porn. In fact, in some cases, I find that it is porn trying to be passed off as mainstream fiction. There is no plot to speak of. Certainly there is no character development beyond chiseled abs and large breasts. The entire piece seems to be smut scenes strung together with very little action beyond that.

Now, I’ve been singled out on more than one occasion as not understanding the desires of today’s audience. (Couple this with being a prude and too old-fashioned, for the sake of transparency.) Apparently this stuff sells big time and we writers have to pay bills like everyone else. Some of them are willing to write whatever is selling at the time to make money. (Which I feel rather denotes a lack of integrity but, that’s another argument altogether.) If a person is compelled to write this material then by all means they have the right to do so. They even have a right to market it in my opinion. However, I think that putting out there among groups that are not age restricted is just irresponsible and adding to the problem of young writers looking for guidance being exposed to matters that they shouldn’t have to feel anymore pressured about than they already are by their peers.

On a more general note, I’m disturbed by how popular this sort of content is. It seems that most everyone out there is obsessed with sex. Personally, I don’t see the big draw. I am one of those rare few who value compatibility in intellect, humor, and interests over a physical connection. You can draw whatever conclusion you like about that. My interest in those matters went out the window long ago. There are reasons I am single after all. That’s likely one of the major ones. But, as a society it seems that we have lost interest in things that last and make an impact unless those things are used to make a physical connection with someone. That makes me incredibly sad.

As I said before, I know I’m a minority. But I also know that I am not alone in this.

Just today, a friend was commenting on not being able to find a decent book that didn’t contain a lot of profanity and vulgarity. She was looking for cleaner reads for adults. And I think there are many more adults looking for the same. So I’m looking for suggestions of authors and books that fit the bill. I’ll make a whole post on recommendations later as I amass them.

If you’re one of the minority on this matter. I’d love to connect. Leave a comment and follow the blog. I’ll be posting reviews as I find them and sharing some of my favorites. I grew up reading classics and I still love them. I will always want the world to be a bit more refined and polite. I will always want children to be children as long as they can. I’ll stick to being a minority for now. I’ve become accustomed to not fitting in for various reasons over thirty-eight years. I don’t see that changing any time soon. Maybe one day I’ll meet someone who shares that. Maybe not. Either way, I’m okay.

As always, you can find a cleaner read over on my Amazon Page, if you’re so inclined.

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Overcoming Discouragement & Rejection

Being a writer isn’t an easy path. It takes years to perfect your style and voice. You spend most of your time sending out material to be rejected over and over again. So it is a necessity to develop a thick skin early on if you hope to survive the process of being successfully published. This is something that every writer struggles with to some degree. We wouldn’t write stories if we didn’t want people to read them and actually like them. But readers are often fickle and you can’t please everyone.

Some of us are blessed with people who believe in us. Family members encourage us to pursue a passion. They want to see us happy and fulfilled. When we finally show them what we’ve been working on for months or years, they tell us how wonderful it is. They know how much time we’ve put into it. They don’t want to burst our bubble or discourage us, so instead of being completely honest, they sugar coat and tell us to keep going. This isn’t a bad thing. We need those people in our lives. We need that cheering squad. But if that’s all we surround ourselves with dealing with rejections and discouragement can be a death sentence to the dream.

When I was a kid, I was most often surrounded by the side of my family that was full of people who constantly made me feel like nothing I did was good enough. They didn’t see my artistic side as an asset or something to be celebrated. In fact, it landed me in a good heap of trouble with them on more than one occasion. I’ve been a black sheep in the family for years because of it. Believe me, I wear that badge proudly now. Their influence helped me to develop that thick skin and temperment needed to continue despite the rejection and criticism.

I was listening to some vlogs and podcasts about social media and how to gain following etc. And something clicked about what Lisa with Lachri Fine Art said about target audience. Now, granted she is talking about art as opposed to writing. However, the concept is the same. You can choose to go to a general art festival because your work is “for everyone”. But, you draw dogs and do dog portraits. So maybe setting up at a dog show is a better idea. You really can’t expect everyone out there to like your work. And, the internet is full of trolls and people waiting to pounce and kill the dream over technicalities. So try to silence the critics.

You see, for me, I tend to keep things pretty close to the vest. I don’t talk about the rejection often because I process the hurt with my journal and morning pages. I put it on the page and I try to just let it go. I remind myself after the venting process of why I write. I sum it up with a list of reasons to keep going.

  • There are people who like my work.
  • I am always growing as a writer.
  • Each piece I produce is better than the last and that usually brings a new reader along with it.
  • The positive feedback is always a boost and it does happen even when it isn’t family or friends giving it out. The first time I had an Amazon review that wasn’t a family member or friend, I was on cloud nine for weeks and wrote more than I had in months.
  • This is who I am and what I do. It is the one thing that I cannot imagine my life without.
  • And somewhere out there is someone who needs to read the story I produce. I don’t know the reasons. I don’t know how they will come to find it. My job is to be brave enough to put it out there so that they can find it.

Part of that bravery is knowing that the critics are a dime a dozen. And it will often seem like their sole purpose is to pull you down and make you quit. Well, for me, I dealt with enough of that growing up. I was fiesty enough to do it anyway then, and I’m still just as fiesty today. So I keep following my dream, writing my stories, and being brave.

So should you if you’re pursuing an artistic career. Whether you sing, write, create art, or something else entirely; don’t let the world take your passion away. If it brings you joy then it is worth it. Even when it isn’t easy.

I am still finding my feet in the marketing department. But I’m confident that, with time, things will continue to grow and I’ll meet more readers and writers. I know I won’t be everyone’s favorite. That’s okay. At least I’ll find that some people out there do like what I do and they are the ones I want to write for anyway.

If you’re curious about what I write you can hop on over to my Amazon Author Page for a list of my current releases.  And you can always join me over on social media. The buttons at the top will direct you how to connect.

Also if you enjoy learning different art techniques I highly reccommend Lisa over at Lachri Fine Art on YouTube. She’s extremely talented and teaches her techniques through videos there. She’s been awesome for my own art skill progression. So please go check her out.

In which the author is sidetracked…

Wow, the time got away from me.

I’ve been most of the week in my little writer’s studio working away on my novel in the time that I’ve had. Happy to say that it is going really well. Hoping to be at the halfway mark by the end of the day today. We shall see if the muse sticks around like she has been. So far, so good. The outline helps. But it has been good to be doing what we writers do.

I am going to try to have something a bit less trivial next post. I’m looking over options from my brainstorming sessions to find something interesting to bring you.

I’ve been thinking over the idea of bringing an episodic fiction series to Patreon. Initially thinking about something with a bit of a vintage feel to it. For those who don’t know me well yet, you’ll find that I love the Victorian Era fashions and social graces. I’ve wanted very much to write something set in that era. I’m not sure if it would quite fit the usual steampunk mold or not. I’m not about the cogs and gears so much. But, I do think it could be interesting and find an audience. For me it would be a bit different from the usual style as well. That sort of break could be good for me.

Speaking of breaks, I did take one this evening to watch Kong: Skull Island. I’d seen the movie while on a date when it was in theaters. I’m not usually an action film girl. I made an exception here because I remembered it being pretty good. (Well, it could also have been because of Tom Hiddleston but, I digress.) It was a good film. I think it went into a greater detail that opened the whole concept up for a new generation to enjoy. Definitely was more about the myth behind it and wove in a whole history that was interesting and kept you riveted.

I have mixed feelings about the remakes I see now. It almost feels that Hollywood isn’t willing to take chances on new ideas anymore. There is no shortage of new fiction out there to pull from. Many a novelist also dabbles in screeenwriting. We’d love to see our characters brought to life on the silver screen. But, again, Hollywood would rather invest time and resources into making a new version of King Kong or It for example. I get it, those are sure box office revenue winners. They are in it to make money. I’d just like to see more storytellers get their work to the audiences that will love them.

Before I call it a night, I want to take a moment to reach out to all of you. What would you like to see here? I have ideas but, I would love to answer some of your questions as well. It can be about writing, self-publishing, creativity, or even just life in general.

What’s on my nightstand?

There seems to always be an interest in what authors are reading. Make no mistake, most of us are always reading something. Some of our favorite places are bookstores after all. So, I’m going to do a recurring posting series talking about books I’m reading and what I think of them. Hopefully I’ll be able to promote some of my fellow independent authors in doing this too.

phone-1052023_960_720I admit that I’m a slow reader. Between a day job that consumes many of my waking hours and trying to write my own fiction, this blog, and market the whole, I don’t get a lot of time to read for pleasure. But there is always something on my Goodreads shelf, Kindle Fire, and bedside table.  In fact, I’m one of those people who start a lot of books and take forever to finish them. If you want to follow me or connect over on Goodreads, I welcome you to check out the profile by clicking here.

So, what am I reading?

Big Magic

BigMagicPB

Big Magic cover courtesy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s website. https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/

 Creative Living Beyond Fear – by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is a great read for anyone who is ready to make the leap into a more creative lifestyle. I found it to be both inspiring and practical really. Gilbert doesn’t mince words when it comes to the valid fears that come up when you consider embracing your creativity.

She talks about various concepts that depict creativity as a series of experiences that are almost spiritual in nature. It is not a new concept. In fact, I find that the more creative people I talk to, the more I find most of us hold that belief about our own unique experiences in living this creative life. And there is something almost transcendental about bringing something to life on the page, easel, or whatever other media you choose to work in. What it definitely takes to do that is courage.

Big Magic is a huge pep talk for creatives. Wonderfully modern and frank in tone, Elizabeth Gilbert essentially tells creators to push aside the fear more often than they give into it. Reminders that while ideas are always out there, they may not all work out or be great ideas for a particular artist. The key is to step out and make the art instead of wishing we were or pining away for a life we aren’t willing to allow ourselves to lead.

I am definitely taking a page from her book of wisdom.  Realizing that life is about discovering what we are capable of.  I’m taking steps to write more and put myself out there more. Which is why you see me more often here and hopefully on the Amazon virtual book shelves in coming months.

What is your favorite book on creativity? I can always use more on my shelves.

Stop over and check out my Amazon Author Page for my latest work in print. All available in both Print and Kindle format. And don’t forget to subscribe so you can get the latest posts from yours truly.

My Top Tool For Creativity

When you get to know me, you’ll quickly realize that I am all over the place creatively. Yes, my primary focus is writing fiction. There are tons of other creative interests in my bag of tricks though.

For example: Did you know that I sing? Yep, I even recorded an album with a band. I also performed in musicals back in the day. I also decorate cakes and cookies with my mom. (Psst… If you’re in East Texas. We have a facebook page and take orders. So check us out here.) I am learning to draw and even paint using acrylics. I do embroidery or other sewing, usually by hand, when I watch television. And I’m slowly learning to play the violin. I could list a bunch of other things. My point, however, is that I try new things and do my best not to limit my options.

But what helps me do that? Is there some common thread in all of these things that I do?

The answer is that there is something I do on a daily basis that helps me keep it all together. I journal. I don’t mean sit down an type on the computer either. I use an actual book and I don’t limit it to words. Granted, my journals usually consist of a ton of words but, I also doodle and sometimes design pages so that they are a bit more visual. The point of it all is to put my thoughts down however they manifest.

Why?

Well, how many times have you thought of a great idea for something to do and you get sidetracked by some chore or errand? You do the required whatever it is. Then, you come back to your creative space to manifest your idea only to have forgotten what it was.

It happens to us all. Don’t worry. I can’t tell you how many great book ideas are lost to the ether because I failed to write them down early on. Carrying a notebook everywhere is second nature to me now.  You’ll rarely ever find me without a way to write something down when it pops in my mind.

Now, there are plenty of journaling resources out there. I won’t get into all of that. Some will tell you that you should only use a leather bound, lined, 80gsm paper, with an expensive fountain pen. And you should format the pages a certain way and all sorts of other nonsense. If those things suit you, go for it. But for someone who wants to keep things simple let me give you the basic break down of what you need.

Number One

A notebook. Any notebook will do. Pick one up at Walmart or Target. Back to school shopping is upon us so they are cheap to find. If you’re inspired by something fancy then, go for it and splurge. I do, however, suggest something you can carry with you. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Walmart usually carries a half size notebook that easily fits in my purse or messenger bag. When on a budget, that’s a go to item on my list.

Number Two

A decent pen. Whether you prefer a felt tip like Papermate’s Flair Pens, Pilot V5s or G2, or Bic Crystal Sticks you can spend as little or as much as you like. I have all of the above along with a box of others. In fact, some of the best writing ball point pens were freebies from the bank.  But, I also have a fountain pen that I favor. It really just depends on my mood.

As for formatting? Throw all of those suggestions out the window at first. Just be creative with it. Do what you do. I generally freewrite for a while in my journal before I get started on any projects. It clears my head of the clutter and allows me to process things easier. So, start there and focus on getting the ideas out of your head and onto the pages. Think of it as a reference for later. If you feel like drawing or painting, go for it. If not, that’s okay too.

Some days may be nothing but complaining about life and the circumstances you find yourself in. That’s okay.

Some days you may find that you have a brilliant epiphany about what you want to do next in life, in a relationship, in your career, or in art. That’s okay too. In fact, those days are just amazing.

And sometimes, it will just be a mess. It will seem incoherent and disjointed. And that’s okay too.

Remember, no one reads this but you. Unless, of course, you allow them to. Then I would hope that it is someone you trust.

For any artist the journal is an essential. It is the catch all for ideas, fears, and even for celebrations. It is a sacred space with it’s own special sort of magic. The more you use it, the more of yourself you uncover. That includes hidden talents and desires for your life. I encourage everyone to try it.

In fact, give it a go and tell me about your experience with it in the comments.

Don’t forget that The Secret of the Storm is available over on Amazon. Click Here  It makes for an awesome summer break read and is available in ebook and print format.

Also, if you haven’t already, subscribe up at the top so you don’t miss a post.

If you want to know more about my journaling experience, feel free to leave questions or suggestions in the comments. Maybe a journal walk through could be a good starting video for a Youtube channel. What say you?

The Writer Confessions: Part One

I’ve known that I would write for the rest of my life since I was about eight years old. I grew up with a Great-Grandmother who taught First Grade for 35 years. Between her and my mother (who read to me and challenged me to read more) I had a pretty good handle on the reading and writing thing before I even officially started school. My first stories involved magical unicorns and fairytale princesses and that seems slightly hilarious to me now; seeing as I write things that are a tad darker in nature these days. But, whatever I write, this is a life-long obsession for me. It is the one thing that I do on a daily basis that I cannot fathom my day being complete without.paper-623167_960_720

The years have passed too quickly in many ways. I’m not the bright-eyed girl that everyone in my mother’s side of the family assumed would go on to greatness. Back in the day I was full of big dreams that involved books, deep conversations, beautiful productions, and all sorts of creative things. I imagined adult life to be very different from what it is now. In fact, I envisioned the college experience to be something wholly different than what it was for me. But that is something I blame myself for. I certainly didn’t take full advantage of that opportunity when I was given it. My writing career isn’t the only thing in life to suffer for it.

In my twenties I was a gypsy in many ways. I lived in many different places spanning one coast of the United States to the other. I made friends, some of them were poor choices, all of them taught me valuable lessons about myself. And few of them remain in my circle today. The bohemian spirit is still strong with me and I often fight the temptation to uproot and start over in a new place. I suppose I’ve become a bit more practical as I’ve aged. There are other things to consider now that weren’t a part of my life before.

I met a man in 2006 who I would marry the following year. It was a whirlwind romance that seemed to quell my own feelings of inadequacy in being single. I’ve never been a woman with many prospects for suitors. And I admit, I settled. I thought I wanted a more traditional life. For a while it was a novelty and served its purpose but, six years later, I found myself standing alone in a courtroom as a judge issued the order to disolve the marriage that had long been over. I regained my name and set about rebuilding my life as best I could. How did I do that? Well, I wrote, of course.

woman-510480_960_720In the course of two years following that day I made greater strides toward writing as a profession than I had in all six of the years I’d spent as a homemaker and sometimes babysitter to his daughter. I often joke that he was the best however many pounds I ever lost. It isn’t far from the truth though. There were so many things that held me back when I was with him. Now, with more freedom to focus on myself and what I want in life, I see that more clearly.

The process of reinventing myself has been a long one. It is evolving and everlasting in many ways. I consider life to be a perpetual series of changes that are like an ocean of existence. Sometimes you have to surf the waves being high up on some curl of achievement. Other times you have to just simply tread water and hope that a safety net comes along to scoop you up. More often than not, it’s a matter of you and the boat weathering a storm into calmer waters where things are peaceful and flow freely for a while. Eventually the rest will cycle round again though. You do what you can and you roll with the tides.

The creative life is an oddity. It is complicated in how we somehow find a way to sustain ourselves with our art. Even when one works a day job, as I do for now, it seems that it is always to supply the need to create somehow. But, it is also a simple life if we allow it to be. To embrace each day with the initial question of “what will I create today?” To answer that and make its answer a reality is truly all we must do to be happy.  And isn’t that the goal for everyone? Simply to be happy.

So tell me readers; What will you create today? How will you find your bliss?

 

Holiday Mayhem

Nothing turns my day job into bedlam faster than a holiday at the first of the month in the middle of the week. Rarely is there a three day weekend with this current work situation. In fact, I think I remember one time where I had three days in a row and it was only because I ended up sick with the flu the day before the holiday. The first week of the month is always busy. Add in a holiday and you end up with a lot of confusion and aggravation. People just don’t do change well. That is a lesson in human behavior that I have learned well.

With that being said, the 4th of July was an epic day. I’d found a story that I wrote a while back when I changed bags for work. It is a little more horror but, it was really pretty good. I decided to revise it and put it out as a short novella for you. I will definitely let you know when it will be available. I’m just going to take some time to polish it up this weekend and ship it off to my beta readers. Then I’ll get all the other details together once I have my feedback.

I was amazed at my production time on the 4th though. I skipped getting online and doing the usual social media surfing. Instead, it was like old times. Me, the keyboard, and some music in the background. I think I tripled my word count for my best day in the past year. And yes, it was awesome!

It reminded me of why I enjoy writing so much. I get lost in my imagination when I do that well. It’s really like reality suspends itself for me and I’m really in my setting and talking to my characters. I think that’s why my early drafts are super dialogue heavy.  More than that, it was a rather blissful day with just me and the pup working away on what I wanted to. Those days are rare since I work a full time job. But, I’ll take them whenever I can get them.

Approaching my weekend, I want to see a similar amount of productivity. I know I have some errands to run but, my plan is to get those done after work tomorrow and then come home to work in the studio. Sunday is always a day for me to focus on my fiction. So I’m excited for that.

Another thing that I’m excited about is that I’m actually scheduling some posts so that things can be more regular here on the blog. My initial plan is to bring you posts twice a week. Posting starting next week on Wednesday and on Satuday.  I have a list of topics and ideas but, I would also love to incorporate what you really want to know. So, I have an open invitation for you to comment your questions. It can be about anything really. I’m not going to be very picky about sticking to a topic because the whole idea of this blog being a window into my creative world is pretty all-encompassing. So whether you have a writing question, a question about creativity in general, or something even more mundane don’t be shy.  Ask away.

The challenge for me is going to be finding images to use. I know blogs are pretty boring without them so, I’m off to look for resources for free images.

Homecomings

It isn’t a secret that for the last year or so I have been trying to find the right mix of things to make my marketing life easier.  For authors, it is never just about writing the book (unfortunately). That’s a big part of it, of course. There are just so many other things that go into it if you want to make it a full time living. Which, I do obviously.

I’ve tried out other blogging platforms. I was a long time user of another for more obscure rantings and ravings about daily life. That platform has been through a lot of changes and I’ve been through them all. This last change however, made me decide to try something else. I had the bright idea that I would simply combine and consolidate using a new platform. Surely that would make my life easier. Right? No. So, here I am back on wordpress. And yes, I will consolidate here finally. I finally figured out that this is by far the best platform for what I need and want to do.

So what have I been up to, aside from writing?

I took a vacation and spent some much needed time with my neices in Kentucky. Going back to the old homestead is always interesting. This time was no different. Those three girls are just a joy to be around. I was able to spend a bit of time with my baby brother. It sounds like he may be making a move closer to us soon. So we’ll see what that brings.

I also had a chance to spend a day with my best friend since high school. Deedra is always keeping me laughing and motivated to keep going on the worst days. It was good to be able to go out to lunch and spend some time like we used to. It felt like we were back on “field studies” again and I really need to do that more often.

I joined a virtual women’s writers group a while back. I’ve gotten so much out of it. Really wanted to partake in a big workshop the leader was doing. With the trip and some additional expenses, I couldn’t afford it though. She’ll have another and maybe I can do it then. The support and encouragement happening in that group is amazing though.

WordPress is acting funny for me today so, I’m going to keep this little update brief. I’ll figure out what is going on and make more regular posts going forward. Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have questions related to writing or the creative lifestyle. I’ll be happy to use them for a future blog or even possibly a video series. I’ve been saying I want to start a Youtube channel for a while. Maybe it is time. I just need to come up with ideas for what to talk about. That’s where all of you lovely readers can help me.