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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I am at the point in the process where I’m tired of looking at the manuscript I’m supposed to be working on. I just want to put this one to bed already and move on to the creation process. For some reason, the editing process does this to me. I procrastinate and I have to force myself to sit down and rework it on the umpteenth walk through. It isn’t that I dislike my story or that it isn’t engaging, it is. I’ve just read it all before; several times before. I’m ready to move on to another part of the overall story or something entirely new.
I have about a hundred ideas stashed away. There are snippets of the better ones in a binder that I work in for such things. Others are in file folders waiting for me to take them to the next phase. Some are just loose pages in a green bin beside my desk that I need to go through and find a filing cabinet to put them in. That’s something that I am lacking since the move that will need to be remedied or I’ll be keeping them in this tote tucked into a closet until I need them again. If I do that, they may end up forgotten but, that’s just a risk you have to take.
I was blessed with an active imagination from a young age. I have snippets of stories and character sketches stretching back to my days in high school when I really began to develop a love of more complex stories and characters. I’m sure somewhere in my grandparents’ basement there are boxes of old journals and notebooks that I’ve stashed away while I was in school. So, I don’t anticipate that I shall be at a loss for ideas for books anytime soon.
As much as I would like to just put the current manuscript aside and work on something else; I won’t. I need to finish it and get it out on the market. There are some perks to being your own boss. There are some drawbacks to it as well. An editor at a publishing house might push me to finish or face a penalty in a contract I signed. As my own publisher, I have to be willing to push myself just as hard, if not harder, to get things done and put the work out to the public. Sure, I can push a deadline here or there but, they never go away. For them to just disappear means that I am giving up on this crazy dream of writing stories for a living. That isn’t about to happen anytime soon.
Maybe it is just impatience on my part. I’m always wanting to plow into something new instead of finishing something that I already have in progress. I’m terrible with endings. It is one of my many weaknesses as a writer. This isn’t because I lack the skill to write an effective end to a story. It is because I get emotionally attached to my characters. I don’t want to see the worlds I created, the people in them, or even their stories to end. And I suppose that’s why I’m happy that so many people have contacted me to say how much they want a continuation of The Secret of the Storm. I actually am excited to oblige the requests and create a series out of Slauson Cove and Elora Castain.
The only real issue, aside from funding the expenses of producing a new book, is trying to finish what I have on my plate before I start working on something new.
Sometimes I wonder if I am the only writer to face this particular problem. Then I realize that being alone in that aspect isn’t likely and I laugh about it and sit my butt back in my chair to put on the editor’s cap once more.
To give readers a bit of a hint about the book that is being released this coming week I want to give you a bit of a sneak peek at the characters you’ll be meeting in The Secret of the Storm. To that end, I’m going to talk a bit about the main character in this book and how I created her and the fictional town of Slauson Cove. And forgive me if this seems vague but, I don’t want to give too much away for readers.
I spent a lot of time in my teens and twenties traveling the USA and into Canada. In fact for a while, I think my family feared that I would be a permanent nomad instead of settling down like they had hoped for me. During that time I did a good deal of traveling specifically in New England; visiting places like Cape Cod, Massachussettes and Newport, Rhode Island along with Philadephia, Boston, and New York. There were various things about these places that stuck in my mind and continue to do so today. Slauson Cove came from taking all of those elements that I came to love and weaving them together into a fictional place. From the local college campus coffee house to the stately historical homes, Slauson Cove was a bit of an ideal place for me. A conglomeration of all the things I had loved about New England towns. The lighthouses, the rocky beaches, and the quaint cottages.It wasn’t hard to imagine this town in my head with its sprawling hub of a town square and historical landmarks some of which aren’t put into the book at all.
You see, when I started creating this world there were so many details to the town and the people that comprised it that I wrote detailed descriptions of shops, offices, and even minor characters that come into play like the shopkeeper and his son that Elora meets when she is setting up shop at Walsingham Manor. The buildings in Slauson Cove have histories that are largely unknown but were important in my creative process. Coming up with the concepts are easy. Bringing them to life on the page is more difficult than people think. While you don’t use all the details in the manuscript, as the creator, you have to have them in your mind in order to keep things in a continuous flow. So in preparation, there was a good amount of “back-writing”, as I call it, so that those details were there if I needed them.
With characters it is much the same. I did extensive sketches of my main characters. When you meet Elora Castain she is a reporter for the Boston Globe who has worked her way up the ladder but, she is somewhat burned out on the job. It was never her real passion and the circumstances that she finds herself in give her a way out to explore her creative side. She’s more than happy to take the risk of starting over in her career in order to explore that part of her life.
I had an editor in the refining stages tell me that Elora came across as far too naive to be in the position she was in and living in a metro area like Boston. Personally, I refuse to think that there are not naive people living in bigger cities like Boston but, for the sake of the story I tried to rewrite certain elements in order to give her that city-girl edge at first. But with Elora, there is a sort of innocence that had to be explored. She discovers so much about her family’s history in such a unique way that it was, for me, important that the vulnerability show.
For Elora I did a number of sketches. I even wrote letters back and forth between me and the character that asked questions about her lifestyle, what she did know, what she felt when she discovered certain aspects of the history, and how she felt about the slayings in Slauson Cove. It was an eye-opening exercise that was used in another project that I was working on during the same time with a co-author. So, as people read the book, I might just release some of those research and developmental writings if people want to read them.
In my notebook there are sketches for characters that I didn’t even introduce in the book. There are notes for a sequel since so many of my beta readers wanted more after finishing The Secret of the Storm. Weigh in as you finish it and let me know if you’d like to see another volume. I’m open to the possibility of revisiting Elora and Slauson Cove. For now, get a sneak peek with the digital version via Amazon for the Kindle. It is available as a pre-release and the print version, if you prefer, is on the way soon.
I have been so super busy between work, discussing options, and writing that I hadn’t even realized that it had been a month since I updated this blog. This isn’t a bad thing for me. In fact, it means that things have been going very well for me. New relationships, new job (that I actually enjoy), writing projects are going well. Other than being sick yesterday, I have only minor complaints about my life at the moment. Those things that I am complaining about will be rectified soon enough.
There is something exciting about moving from one phase of your life to another. And I will admit that if you’d told me where I would be a year ago, I would likely have just laughed and replied, “Yeah, right.” But, here I am. And truth is, I am happier than I have ever been. I have so many amazing things in my life now that I couldn’t have had before. I attribute these changes to 3 things:
- 1. My acceptance of my faith and putting my trust in God to direct my life.
- 2. My realizing how utterly unhealthy my last relationship was and having the courage to do what I needed to do to get out of it.
- 3. My amazing family who have been such a tremendous support system through all of this.
Honestly, one should never underestimate the importance of a good family. I’m not saying that every family is a good one. Certainly, there are some dysfunctional ones that you may be better staying away from but, I am blessed with at least one side of my family being awesome and I try to not take advantage of their support. They may not understand everything I do but, when a decision is made – no matter how they may talk me out of making that decision- they do their best to support it.
I am still working on that balance though. Between the part time work, spending time with family, and writing it gets a little strenuous on my time. Not that I’m complaining. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My time is spent doing things that I love and with the people I love. So, there isn’t much more in life that I can ask for. Well, with a couple of obvious exceptions in my neck of the woods.
As I write this, I’m on my lunch break from the day job excited that I’ll get more hours than normal this week. There are lots of things that I am looking forward to doing with the money; goals that I will be able to reach faster. I’m working on edits for the book and will be making some announcements on it soon (I hope). I’m developing a game plan, which is something that I’ve not had in a long time. I think things work better when you have some sort of plan and organization method.
I’m so proud right now though. One of the amazing parts of doing what I do is watching the difference it makes in the lives of the kids around me. I participated in the Young Author’s program when I was in school. A couple of weeks ago, I found out that my niece and my god daughter both have followed suit and won awards in their age group. Needless to say, I’m a proud Aunt at this point. It also motivates me to continue working on my own projects. It truly is amazing what influence a child can have on your life, even if they are not your own. Just knowing that they want to emulate you is enough to make you want to be the best person you can be.
Now, I am trying to work on getting my life in the order I want it to be. I’m trying to organize things for my work and jut for life in general. I have two projects to put to bed and I have others that are just getting started. I also know that I’m going to be moving again soon and setting up a new office in the process (along with the rest of the house) and I am trying to simplify and get things in order. That, my friends, is sometimes easier said than done.
Life is good though. I’m happy and working away on projects while spending time with the amazing people in my life and working at a day job that I enjoy. So, I can’t really ask for more than that at this point. Well, maybe I could ask for these edits to be done already but, that’s just part of this writer’s life.