Category Archives: Lessons Learned
The old saying goes something like this : To everything there is a season… I’m finding that to hold true today.
The past week has been surreal for me. I am sitting here taking in all the events that have happened and I think I am still in a little bit of shock. Regardless, it seems appropriate to reflect on all of this with you, my readers.
This blog has always been about creating a window into my creative world. Some entries here are more personal than others. They aren’t all industry news or propoganda. This is going to be one of those personal entries that I hope will convey a fundamental message of inspiration for those of you on a similar path. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a writer to appreciate the message behind this. I think that this is true of any creative endeavor.
For years, I have known where my passion truly lies. Creating characters, stories, and books that entertain and pull people from the oblivion of a mundane life is part of it. Helping people find a way of keeping the magic going is another part. For the first time in several years, I packed up my books and headed to an local event to sell them. I always love meeting people and enjoy talking about my work. So these events are always a bit of a treat for me. They are also a lot of work but, well worth the effort.
Tyler Paranormal Conference was a very serendipitous event. I was asked to speak on top of being a vendor. So I went prepared with notes about my books and how my work as a paranormal investigator and researcher helped me to write what I do. I went and set up and learned that several people had come just to hear me speak. Talk about a surreal moment! I’m just a girl trying to do something that she loves. I never quite think of myself as a celebrity of any sort so attending the VIP dinner “with the stars” was awesome. I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of wonderful ladies who had traveled to be there. I was equally as happy to sign books for them the following morning. And when it came time for the presentation. I had the attention of a room full of aspiring writers.
My prepared material went out the window and it turned into a very candid discussion about how to get started in writing and industry specifics for resources. I was excited by this. It made me think of new posts for here, the youtube channel, and other services I can offer when/if, I have the time. The whole experience solidified my determination to make this lifestyle my reality and in doing so, help others make it their reality as well.
So I went back to my planning board with ideas for services and I started to make some plans for what, and how, to offer my experience to others. I was reminded that I apparently am a natural teacher. And my willingness to share my methods and teach skills that I’ve honed over the years is what sets me apart. Being a writer is as much about persistence as it is about skill. And I also realized that many people are looking for a guide to this journey. That got me to thinking about how I could be that sort of mentor and guide.
In my excitement and planning I didn’t realize what Monday morning would hold in store.
The only constant in life is change. I accepted this long ago. I’ve become a bit of an expert at starting over when necessary. And it seems that, once again, it is necessary to make like my heroines and accept the changes happening in my life. When I went to my day job on Monday morning, I was fired.
Now, some people may have been devastated by this news. I wasn’t. For three years or more, I have worked six days a week and struggled to find the time to work on my passion in life. Long hours without breaks, sometimes in a hostile work environment, and it was mostly in isolation that prohibited me from interacting with coworkers or building relationships with others. The constraints of the job made it difficult for me to spend time with family and friends. I’ve not seen my family for the holidays in four years. That’s going to change this year. But most importantly I can work on my books and focus on helping others embrace their own creative passions.
I’m excited about coming up with ways to get my work into new readers hands. I’m super excited about being at Geekend in Kilgore, Texas in a bit over a week. And I am looking to add an additional convention to my mini-tour this year. I am also looking at creative perks and ways to get readers involved in the creative process through Patreon. I’ll be posting more details about that soon. And, of course, I can fast forward production on the next Slauson Cove book now. In fact, I hope to have it in the hands of beta readers by the time I go to Geekend. That’s super exciting.
To add to that, I’m going to be posting some information on an exciting opportunity for five aspiring authors to work directly with me on their project. I’ll be offering affordable developmental editing and tailored workshops via video calls soon. If you’re interested in working with me. Be sure that you sign up for my email newsletter. Subscribers to that will be given a first look at the details of the program I’m offering and how to apply with me.
Honestly, there have been plenty of signals that it was time to take a leap of faith. Synchronicity is a funny thing really. Several doors are opening and I am seeing more and more interaction with all of you on social media. I think this is an upward trend I can enjoy for a bit.
Tomorrow, I’ll be announcing the giveaway winners of my collectors editions of Exorcising The Past. Another incentive to put your name and email address in the subscribe boxes and pop up. There will only be 50 of these printed making them a limited edition. I’ll also be signing and personalizing for the winners.
As I went about my day, I found that I really have little patience for stupidity. And I am sure that someone will label me a fuddy-duddy for this anectdote. I no longer care whether or not I am considered hip, cool, or fashionable. I’m not trendy. And I like what I like and despise what I please without reservation. I’m too old to play these games and hide the fact that I have a brain and can use it. So, I’m going to use this experience from earlier to make a point or two about things, I believe to be, wrong in our society.
For a bit of back story. I work for a loan company. It’s one of those places that are a chain and offer astronomically priced loan products. It is the sort where customers are desperate without alternatives and well, they take advantage of a bad situation and generally make it worse. Quite frequently we are mistaken to be a place where people can pay bills or cash checks without the need for a bank account. It happens. And as a rule, I explain that it isn’t a service we offer. They ask where they can and I give a couple of local options and people are frustrated but, they go about their way to get their cash.
Today however, was a different story. About an hour prior to closing a maroon Chevy sedan pulls up outside. Clearly Momma is driving since a young man got out of the pasenger side. Now, his sagging pants, hoodie, and ball cap turned to the side didn’t make for a good first impression to begin with. But, he came in and I was my chipper friendly self. He asks the question I figured was coming. “Do you cash personal checks?”
This is the conversation that ensued:
Me: Sorry, that’s not a service we offer here. I’m simply a loan company.
Him: But Google said you do.
Me: Well, Google is mistaken. I don’t do any check cashing at all personal, payroll, or otherwise.
Him: But Google says you did.
Me: (loosing my patience) Yeah well, I’ve been here for three years and we’ve never cashed checks. Sorry about that.
Him: But it says-
Me: Honey, Google is wrong! I cannot and will not cash that check for you. Period. End of discussion about Google. You can try **** or ****. See if they can help you out.
Him: I’ve already been there.
Me: May I suggest getting a bank account with one of the local banks. Or taking the check to the bank that it is written from.
Me: Where is the check from?
Him: My mom.
Me: No, what bank.
Him: I don’t know my mom gave it to me.
Me: Okay so, I can’t help you with your check. Good luck and have a nice day!
Took another two minutes of blank stares and me refusing to say anything further before he took the hint that it was time to leave.
This kid was likely 17 or 18 and seemed perfectly normal otherwise. I didn’t ask for an I.D. But, all I could think to myself was that these kids are going to be running the country some day. Our educations system is failing them if we can’t even get them to comprehend something as simple as the answer to that question.
Do you do X?
No, I don’t. We provide product/service Y.
The exchange seemed surreal to me. Like he honestly believed that Google was God and that if he told me enough that Google said we did something that it would somehow make me start doing what he wanted. Fortunately, I’m not easily swayed in that way. But, then again, I head about things others in the same business (company) do and I wonder about their ability to reason and think logically.
I see this more often now and it is truly disturbing to me. Sadly it isn’t only the kids I see this with. It is adults too. And these experiences really take a toll on my optimism for the direction of human evolution.
Honestly, this is a case of life being stranger than, or at least as strange, as fiction.
It is no secret that I’ve gone through a big process of reinventing myself over the past few years. The reality is that we’re always evolving into someone new. There is no stopping it. We’re shaped by our interactions with others, experiences that we have, and even what information we choose to feed our minds. Every decision we make is a catalyst for some sort of change in our lives. So, it is perpetual with time.
Living in the modern world is simultaneously easy and difficult. There are all sorts of expectations for how we are supposed to live, be, and even act. For most of us, we do our best to simply fit in and go with the flow. We get a job after schooling. We work the set schedule with some overtime. We then draw a paycheck, pay our bills, have a little bit of fun with friends and/or family, and then we repeat the process. But for some of us that isn’t enough. Instead, we need to be doing something that truly allows us to be ourselves and to be involved in life.
So, how do you find what really sets your soul on fire? How do you discover that thing that you truly love to do?
This is where a journal becomes a necessity. You start in the past with what you loved to do as a child or a teen. No, I’m not talking about what all your friends were doing. That’s how you ended up where you are. I mean what did you truly love to do when no one was looking? I find that those are the best places to start.
You excavate what you once loved. Dig deep and then you try those things again. Did you spend a lot of time coloring as a kid? Pick up a coloring book and some crayons or colored pencils (if you choose the adult versions). See if it still gives you the same joy it once did.
Did you like to sing or put on puppet shows? Why not go try a karaoke or deliver a monologue at an open mic night somewhere? Pick out a new monologue to learn and practice in the mirror. Why not opt to take a drama or acting class?
Were you a poet or writer? Why not dust off old ideas and see what you can do with them now? There is a thriving writing community out there who would love to have you join whatever your level is.
From there you can explore new ideas that come up. Maybe that love of the dramatic has turned into a love of directing the stage or a film. Maybe a love of coloring turned into a love of feeling the paint slide over a canvas instead. Maybe you are interested in picking up a camera now. There could be any number of things that can help you find that passion in life. The key is exploration.
So pull out your pen, open a google doc, create a video log to talk to yourself so you can hash it out and figure it out. Try new things and explore the world around you through different eyes for a while. You may find that you learn more about yourself than you realize.
We spend so much of our time waiting.
Seriously think about it for moment. We wait to grow up. We wait to have an education. We wait for appointments. We wait for payday, the weekend, our favorite shows to premiere a new season, movie releases, and other trivial things. I am currently waiting on that lovely refund from the IRS as a further example. Aren’t we all? There are things that are worth the wait, of course, like finding the love of your life before you settle down. You’ll just have to take my word on that one. I should know. But what truly baffles me is how we wait to take the steps to live our best lives.
We’ve all found ourselves stuck in the rat race. There are all sorts of ruts and traps to fall into. We settle into many roles in life without even realizing that we’re doing it. I know I did. And in some ways I still do. But, let me just say that a shift is happening for me. It is as much spiritual as it is mental.
In 2017 I spent a lot of time thinking about what sort of life I want to lead. And through my journaling and letters I discovered that I have been my own biggest obstacle in living that dream life. I’d almost be willing to wager a bet that, if you were to really think about this, you would find that you’re in a similar position.
I’m a plus size woman. That fact alone presents a whole list of obstacles in life. Society honestly treats plus size people differently regardless of the circumstances. I think that this, combined with conditioning by various life experiences, leads me to a place where I imposed many restrictions on myself as to what I could do in life. That eventually led to a bevy of excuses to procrastinate.
- I’ll wait until I lose 50 pounds before I take new headshots.
- I don’t want to do a book launch until I can wear that dress in the back of my closet.
- I don’t want to film videos because I look awful.
- I don’t want to spend money on my hair, makeup, etc until I am able to go out more.
- I’m not going to put myself out there because all people will see is fat
- No one will take me seriously as an author, blogger, vlogger, speaker until I look like x, y, z….
Yes, I’ve said all of these to myself at some point. Some of them more recently than others. And they are all completely ridiculous reasons for not chasing my dreams.
I sit here tonight thinking about where I would be if only I had listened to myself and trusted my gut when I was young and full of confidence. At least, I could fake it when I needed to because I was angsty and rebellious in my own way. And yes, I could be a lot further along in this writing and promotion career. I’m not the spring chicken I was but it is never too late to start doing what you love.
So tell me what is holding you back from pursuing your own dreams? For me it is more than the weight or size issue. But, I’m telling you, I’m tired of excuses. I’m reading more, writing more, trying new things, and just going for it.
I want to cultivate some content for my Youtube Channel based on this issue: Overcoming Your Obstacles To Living Your Best Life. So your feedback will help me to really delve deep into how to deal with those issues and find ways to move beyond them so that you can do what will honestly make you thrive in life.
Don’t want to comment publicly? That’s okay! Email your feedback to me at email@example.com and I’ll do my best to respond. I’m thinking I may even do a few interviews on the topic as well. So, let me know if you’d like to be included if you care to send me your story.
Welcome to the start of another work week readers. How was the weekend for you?
I admit that I was a bit of a lazy bum this weekend. I did some writing, of course. Not a ton of it but, enough to say it was productive. I also spent some time with the Winchester boys via Netflix. I know, I’m a little late to the party with this series. If I’m honest about it though, that’s probably a good thing. Seeing as I can never watch just one episode and… well… commercials suck! So, I’m enjoying the catch up. And those episodes will likely serve as motivation and distraction on the treadmill at the gym.
Yes, I said gym. I joined the local Anytime Fitness and got started last week. It’s going to be a long road for me. But, I started and I intend to keep going. We all start somewhere. Might as well be now.
In fact, I think it is important to realize that you can start over anytime and anywhere. Its what life is really all about. We live in one type of series of events for a while and then, we make a decision to change something and start a new chapter. Sometimes they aren’t very big changes. Other times they are upheavals that shake us to our core.
Look, I don’t know where you are in life. Only you know that. But one thing I know to be certain. None of us, including you, are simply the sum of our pasts. Everyone makes mistakes. It is part of being human. But, no matter what you face as a reality of those past decisions, you can make the choice to live differently and move forward.
Above my writing desk I have a quote that I pulled from an old planner years ago. That thing was full of juicy quotes. But this one stands out to me.
Every year, day, hour, minute, second…. is a chance to start over.
It really is true. And only you will know to what degree that applies to you.
Maybe you just need to make more of an effort in a particular area of your life. Maybe you need to make a change to put yourself first for a while and drop toxic relationships in your life. Maybe you need to completely reinvent yourself. Some of those are easier to make happen than others. I know. But whatever the case may be for you, it is time to make the effort to start anew.
So change your attitude, your habits, your look, or maybe just your socks. The point is, make that step to living your best life. Get clear about what that looks like for you and just go for it. You may surprise yourself. You’ll never know unless you try though.
Just know that I’m with you on that ocean of change. The gym, the videos, my writing projects, and even where I am putting focus this year for my own life is changing. It won’t always be an easy road. It is one that I know I need to travel regardless though. Maybe I’ll share more of that journey as we go along. Will you?
Wow guys! I had no idea what an ordeal creating this content was going to be. I am still determined though.
As I write this, it is nearly 1:00AM and I have approximately 5 hours remaining on the rendering of my first video. I have no idea how long it is going to take to upload it to YouTube. But that will have to wait until I get up to be started. So, the video will go up at some point.
In the meantime, I did get my intro to load and I’m excited about that part. So I’ll be working on some other videos this week so I can get some content up but, so you can get the notifications and subscribe. Here it is!
I really wanted to show off the fun side. All the different things I do and I think I succeeded there. I may tweak it as I gather new experiences, clips, and images but for a start I think this is a good option.
I have learned a very important lesson though. I really need to invest in a better computer. This video editing is no joke. And I’m sure it will be a good investment. So, I’m already doing research. Glad this is coming up at tax time.
I know this is short but, I wanted to share what was accomplished. Now, I have to get to the day job in the morning so, I think sleep is a necessary component of my day.
Hello my readers! I hope that you’re all fairing well in this wintery weather. Here in Texas it was a crazy day. As I was leaving the office the temperature was 52° F and as I got home 30-45 minutes later it was 38° F. I took my umbrella and my coat and gloves this morning when it was about 64° F. It is no wonder that everyone I come in contact with is sick. GermX is my friend lately.
I have a couple of things I wanted to put out there tonight. It is no secret that I have a YouTube channel that I’ve been preparing for. I’m happy to tell you that my first video will be posted on Monday January 15th, 2018. In fact, there will be two! One is a static invitation and about the channel type of post and the other will be actual content post. So, I’m going to backtrack on Monday to post links to those videos for you to easily access them. Why? Because I’m a total Newb at this and have no idea how this is all going to work out until I actually finish editing and uploading. So, please, be patient with me in this process.
I have been blogging off and on for years. I am a writer. It is what I do well. So, you may be asking “why have I decided to jump into the video realm? It’s a fair question. So I’m going to address it here, for now.
This is me. I’m a heavy woman who has always had a big heart. There’s no need to go into the details of why or how I ended up the size I am now. It is just a fact.
Every year, I make a list of resolutions. Like many others out there they include losing weight, eating healthy, drinking more water, and the usual things. But 2017 was a hard year in many ways. The latter half of the year left me doing a great deal of soul searching and dealing with the reality of my own mortality. I started to question myself on a much deeper level. I prayed for clarity and direction. To my surprise, I actually got what I asked for.
I’ve spent most of my life being concerned with what others thought about me. I hid from view in group photos and avoided full body shots. It is something a lot of bigger women (and I assume men) do. We want to look, act, and feel just like everyone else. But, we stand out no matter how much we try to hide away. Then we become painfully aware of any situation that even hints at embarassment for those we love. Subconsciously we read far more into things that are said, many times, than is really there. The result is even further seclusion from the world. For me, something has finally clicked. And I realize that there is something much bigger at play here than just me.
Getting in front of this camera is terrifying. I know that there are going to be people out there who will attack me solely because of the way I look. I deal with that every day. And I’ve often used writing as a way to cope with the emotions that go along with that. This has to get beyond the fear. It will get easier for me. There are going to be posts about writing, creative living, plus size living, and I want to allow all of you a bit of a window into my world. I think it is going to be an exciting thing once I move through the initial jitters. I hope that you will too.
Why now? Because I am tired of living my life on the sidelines waiting to be the perfect size, have the perfect smile, hair, or make up. Life is imperfect. We are all flawed. And I think it is so important for other bigger people to see someone being real, honest, living life, and reaching for a big dream. I’ve been inspired by other writer and youtubers out there who have shared their own journeys. And I feel like I have a unique perspective to offer that could help others find their voice and encourage them to start living their fullest lives as well.
So much in my life is changing. I’ve realized that writing a book isn’t enough. I want this to be a career for me. I want to entertain people with great stories and characters. I want to travel and meet readers, give readings, help and inspire others to reach for their own creative dreams. To do that, I have to get out of my shell. I have to undo years of conditioning. I have to be healthier than I have ever been before and strong enough to say, “You know what world, HERE I AM!” And I am finally there.
Conquering the fear isn’t easy but, I’m just going to go on blind faith that the right people will connect through these means. Blogging, Vlogging, and other social media are tools that will allow me to reach far and wide. This year, is about learning about them and then using them to live my dreams.
So, will you join me?
Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’d be delighted if you would join me in subscribing to my new channel as well. Info will be live on Monday as soon as there is a video to share over there.
See ya soon!
What’s the John Lennon Quote?
Yep, that would be the one.
Living creatively is as much about stopping and experiencing life as it is about creating things that will enhance it for yourself and possibly others. It is impossible to create constantly. If we do we deplete the well of experience and inspiration that we draw from. Once in a while, it is necessary to stop and smell the roses. Whether that is literal or proverbial is entirely dependent on the artist.
NanoWrimo is a huge undertaking even for published authors. 50,000 words in a 30 day span is a huge commitement. It takes planning and foresight. Not to mention everyone in your life being on the same page as you and willing to pick up the slack if you are working full time. Planning is a must if you expect your story to have any sort of flow or cohesion at the end of November. And sometimes, life happens and you know you aren’t going to make that goal.
For me, when it happens, as in previous years, I don’t just stop. Whether I finish a self-imposed ludicrous deadline, or not, isn’t the end of the world. We can’t plan for all the interruptions that can happen in a month.
For example: You get sick. Your attention is pulled away on a project at the office, requiring you to work late most nights. A dog that is persistent in his need for extra snuggles or play time. (Don’t laugh. Have you ever tried to write something with a chiweenie yapping at you from the end of the bed? Impossible! I really need some noise cancelling headphones.) Kids needing attention or homework help. Not to mention extra acitivities with them being off from school or prepping for plays etc. Spouses that want attention or need something from you when you’re in the middle of a huge plot twist. (Suddenly I’m very thankful for my single status.) Toss in a major family holiday to the mix.
The point is. Life happens. No matter how much you plan your schedule or think you have all the distractions in check, life will eventually find a way to pull you away from the projects in your head. And that’s okay.
When you find yourself completely flustered with all these things; sometimes all you can do is embrace them. Enjoy the moment. Be present with the people you care about and who care about you. Whether they be big, small, or furry. They won’t be there forever. They will eventually leave you to your thoughts and projects. And you may find something in those moments that adds just what you needed to your projects.
For me, it is all about embracing this journey we call Life.
We are quickly approaching the end of 2017.
To be honest, it’s been a bittersweet year for me. I’ve tried new things. I’ve dealt with some major health issues. I’ve worked, I’ve played, I’ve procrastinated, been distracted, and at times had a sort of laser focus. The one thing I have to admit is that I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I wanted to this year. Procrastination is not your friend, as I’ve learned. But, there are still two months and a major writing challenge left in the year and I’m going to make the most of it.
It doesn’t make sense, to me, to start a quarterly goal list now. So I’m just going to set a few goals for the next two months as I prepare to tackle 2018 and make it the year of the writer.
- Finish my draft of the second Slauson Cove book. – Tentatively titled The Castain Curse, this WIP has been much requested by my current readers. You’ll likely be happy to hear that this project is taking a front seat. I’ve made it my NanoWrimo project so you can follow along on progress by going here: Anne Belle but keep in mind that the goal of NanoWrimo is to complete 50,000 words in 30 days. I already had about 18,000 words drafted when I started. The over all goal for the novel is to have at least 100,000 words to make it a complete novel. So my Nano efforts will likely get me about 3/4 of the way to completion. Completing my first draft by December 31st will allow me to start fresh in January with edits and getting beta reader feedback .
- Start that darned YouTube Channel – Yes, you read that right. I’m stepping in front of a camera. This has been on my mind for over a year. I’ve gotten so much motivation and clarification on writerly things from watching videos from other writers who have been generous enough to share their journey to publication with the world. Not to mention giving a more realistic picture of what the writing life entails. For me, it helps me feel less alone in this process. I’ve had a difficult time connecting socially with other authors in my area because of this crazy work schedule. So, I’ve decided to add my own voice to the writing community online. And I can’t keep procrastinating based on appearances. Like many a plus size person, I usually avoid the cameras for fear of not being taken seriously and it turning into a circus. But, it is high time to face that fear and just do it. I see plenty of bold and beautiful plus size people doing this so, I can do it too.
- Create a plan for marketing new and old work in 2018- This means I need to figure out a budget, how much time to spend on things like social media, blogging, videos, and all the other things that go into it. I need to do some face to face marketing so, I need to research conferences and events at which I can go and sell my books. This is, quite frankly, just as daunting as that camera. But it needs to be done. And I know so many things need major updates if I am going to make a serious go of writing fiction as a career. So, getting that plan in place is my first step.
- Purge The Papers- I have more mail and paperwork piled up on my desk and in the nooks and crannies of my room than any one person should have. I have to take time to sort through them and organize myself. On top of that it won’t hurt me to do a general purge and clean of my space. The organization process may require me buying some file bins and shelves. But it will definitely be worth it to start with a clean slate in the new year.
Those are pretty big goals for two months time. So I’m going to stick with those. January, I’ll post some quarterly goals and a recap on whether I met these or not. Call it my accountability post, if you will. I think it will help though.
What about you? Do you have any goals for the rest of 2017? Share them with me in the comments or by email.