Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The war in my mind

There’s a phenomenon that I don’t quite understand.
I was really pumped last weekend. No obligations, plans, or urgent to-do list. I decided early last week that I would “write like mad” on Saturday and Sunday. Treat it like a work day, except I’d be home writing.

Except I didn’t wake up excited. I felt a little nervous (and really overwhelmed), and talked myself into getting a few things done for a new business that I’m starting (which will hopefully allow me some freedom in the long term for more writing), and then I’d pursue my writing in the afternoon. It related to writing, I rationalized, but still, I wasn’t writing. Afternoon rolled around and I was stressed out by a website and Vistaprint and random other snags. I decided lunch would be a really good idea. How can I write if I’m not rejuvenated? Then I got a bit drowsy after lunch so I needed a cat nap. That’s just a sampling of how Saturday and Sunday went on. It got to be rather ridiculous. I talked myself into shoveling snow since it really should be done in case we get another storm, and there’s not a lot of time on weeknights for that. Shoveling snow!

By Sunday night I was disgusted with myself. Disappointed. Ashamed. Self doubt. I thought, maybe I’m not a writer. What sort of writer finds everything to do except write? I had been so excited about finally having a whole weekend to write. Everything was “perfect”. I finally had the time.

I’ve been a writer my whole life, but this is my first serious attempt at writing a novel. I’m a beginner novelist and I feel overwhelmed. So much to consider. Dynamics, background, setting, facts, plot lines, character development, and to put together a string of that many words and paragraphs that work well together and are inspiring, exciting, captivating? What if I can’t do it? I think I figured out my problem. Well there’s more than one when it comes to the fear that a writer battles. The war it wages within the mind. But my biggest underlying fear last weekend? What if I write a novel and then find out that I’m not good at it? What if I’ve deceived myself all these years into thinking I could write a good novel, but I can’t. THAT is my biggest fear. …So if I avoid writing it, I can keep living that dream of “hey I bet can write a novel!” and then never get the opportunity to prove myself wrong. But then I realized, if I never attempt it, I also lose. If I never confront the fear, never just go ahead and do it, I also lose.

Finally, late Sunday night, I sat and wrote for forty five minutes. I don’t know what the magic trick was. Only change was that my husband came home from being out of town and I liked his company. So maybe a quiet house with tons of time isn’t the “perfect” setting. I don’t know.

I also had one of those flashes of insight. A simple thought, but it was what I needed. I spend so much time and effort with every word and sentence being “good enough”, that the whole process loses its charm. The simple thought? “Just tell the story” Tell it horribly, tell it however you want, but at least tell it. So that’s my mantra right now. “Just tell the story.”

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Goal SettingI

I don't know about you, but without setting goals, I don't seem to get as much done. It's even more helpful to see a visual representation, which is why we created the GRRWG Goal Board.

I thought I'd show you how we're doing so far compared to the end of last year. Keep in mind that this is only one month worth of goals. I can't wait to see how the board looks next month with February's goals included.

You've got until February 1oth to complete your goals - how are they coming along?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Never give up. Never surrender.


That video clip is from one the most best Sci-Fi lampoons of all time, Galaxy Quest. While that line might not be as revered in cult-classic circles as Alan Rickman's "By Grapthar's Hammer," it's what's motivating me to meet all my goals this month, even if not in a timely fashion.

Case in point, this post. I didn't actually post it on the 20th of January. I'm posting it from the future, on the 21st. See, I made a goal this month to make all of my blogging commitments. I won't miss a single Wednesday post at Three Wicked Writers Plus Two. I'll keep up with my personal blogs that are currently active (though I'm not quite ready to commit to daily posting), and I have an unusually high volume of guest blogs to pump out this month, including one on the 26th at Reading For A Cure, which is such an amazing idea and I really encourage everyone to check it out and become involved, if possible.

I've digressed from my original point. I've made it a goal to make all these commitments, because I'm guilty of seeing blogging as just this thing you maybe might do if you have the time. But it's a vital part of a writer's career these days. But even though I set that goal, twice now there have been times when, through habit and laziness, I've forgotten to do my blogging. This is one of those times.

While it would be easy for me to blow things off and say, "Ah, I've already messed up, I might as well just give up," I'm not going to do that this time. I'm not going to give up, I'm not going to surrender. First of all, I don't need to feel Captain Taggart's disappointment in me. Yes, it's imaginary disappointment, but I assure you, it would crush me. Second, I don't need to disappoint myself. Only I can achieve my goals, and every one of them, even something that seems as small and extraneous as blogging, has to be important to me. Otherwise, it's not a goal, it's a thing that I might do sometimes if I have a minute and I think about it.

So, I'm not giving up, I'm not surrendering, and I'm making this blog post a day late and fudging my time stamp, because if I've learned anything from Galaxy Quest, it's that you can have absolutely no idea what you're doing and mess up countless times and still come out on top. That was the moral I was supposed to take away from that movie, right?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Being Meticulous

Yes, being meticulous about some things in life is a must. Taking that extra bit of time to attend to details makes life better. Especially if you're a writer. Nothing is worse than to have a savvy reader write to tell you how you missed some pertinent or minute fact and they will. You can research a book exhaustively and sure enough, that one little mistake is caught by someone. Where do these people exist? When I'm reading a book, I'm so into what the author is telling me, I'm not questioning her background research, but some people do.

Today, I'm crawling all over google trying to find background information for Arabian bride. I need to know all sorts of things to make her come alive to the reader, her religion, her position in life, her environment, rural or urban, traditions, language, mores, etc. etc. At the same time, the hero is an East Indian Prince who must become a pirate in order to regain his throne. More research! What would my story be without the richness of research?

We live in an age when such research can be accessed right from our desk tops, so there's no excuse for us not to be meticulous in said research.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Organize, 0rg@n1z3, organ----what?


If you’re like most writers, you’re never without a notebook nearby to jot down that amazing idea that will propel you into Stephen Kingville or Amanda Hockingtown.
Between writing, working full time, shutting down a house and planning phase two of my career, I’m besieged with things to do.  My list grows longer every day.  The trouble is, I’m not very good at organizing them in one failsafe place.  When I’m at work, I scratch everything down on scrap paper and shove the list into my purse.  When I’m at home, I’m too busy to remember I had a list.  Consequently, I write it down again the next day and the day after.
I’ve tried using a smaller notebook where I can divide my ideas into WIP, write reminders for Cheryl, Inc. and Sterling, Inc., but the notebook is one more brick to cram in my purse (alongside my Kindle, twelve store cards, gum, seven dollars in quarters and the vitamins I forget to take). 
I recently bought an app for my iPad.  It’s similar to a bulletin board in that you can stick virtual Post its to it.  I had great hopes for this system.  Different colors for different parts of my life.  Headings of “Today”, “Tomorrow”, “Soon”, and “Later.”  The problem is, I don’t always have my iPad with me, and I don’t want to start carrying it around (another brick).
Recently, our writing group had a discussion about Scrivener, which I’ve owned for a couple of years but never used much.  After the pros and cons were weighed, I went back into the program and pulled together all the odd notes, the scraps of paper, the website url’s, etc. and added them to the scant notes I had in Scrivener.  I'm amazed at what I now have for each story.  It’s a great tool, and I plan on using it for every project I’m working on, writing related or not.
Now, if I could just solve the scraps of paper in my purse dilemma…
How do you keep track of everything going on in your life?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Musings on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I didn't realize that my day to blog would fall on Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Perhaps that's because I haven't gotten this particular holiday off in over a dozen years. (Which isn't all that big of a surprise, after all my job is in IT and we typically do our biggest work on days when no one else is working.)

So, I started looking at some of his quotes. Everyone knows this one and it remains my absolute favorite:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was young enough when he was killed to not really get the importance of his death. Kids tend to be too self-absorbed to get some of the bigger events in their life. At the time I was more concerned about my math homework and recess than anything else. It wasn't until later on that I figured out how important he was.

This quote always gets me thinking about doors opening and paths not taken:

"All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are times when I'm involved in various groups that I wonder if Dr. King truly understood what he started for the rest of us. The Stonewall Riots came just a year later, helping bring the homosexual community together to take on the oppressive laws throughout the US (of which many are still on the books to my great dismay). Just two years later the first Gay Pride marches were held in LA, Chicago, and New York.


I believe our lawmakers have tried to make laws that will protect us all from discrimination, I'm just not sure they work well. Perhaps that's because some lawyers want to interpret the intent of the law, while others look for loopholes. Why don't we try simpler language? For instance: "A company is to interview all skillfully qualified candidates." (Already the lawyer in my head has a dozen questions). Can't we just use common sense?

The year that Dr. King died, women were given protections from sex discrimination by an Executive Order, and affirmative action plans were required for hiring women. A year later, my home state of California, adopted the "No Fault" divorce law, allowing divorces by mutal consent. In contradiction, men still had legal control of whether or not their wives worked and where they would live - in California of all places! Luckily that law has since been axed.  This was the year I started paying attention to women's rights as I had one grandfather who constantly told me what professions were "appropriate" for girls, of which a Veterinarian was not one, and another one who told me girls could be anything we wanted to and that my chavenistic grandfather was full of it.

"Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
Martin Luther King, Jr. "

This quote always brings to mind several friends who are talented, outspoken people, many of who are Gay. While minorites and women have come a long way, the Gay community as a whole hasn't seen as much progress. And the sad part is, they've been there for the rest of us all along. It is fairly well understood that making progress for one oppressed group helps bring the other groups forward as well. I was quoted over the summer as saying something along the lines of "It is now our time to stand up for the LGBT community, as they were there for women in the 70's". I do feel responsibility to be an ally and to help move understanding of this community forward. And it makes me incredibly happy to see the current generation being more tolerant in general when it comes to orientation, skin color and gender.

However, I don't think we are quite at the point where people are judged for the content of their character. We seem to be sliding backwards on that one. Perhaps technology is to blame for as we put more and more focus on what people look like (regardless of skin color) and less on who they are. Televeision, YouTube, and the anonymity of the internet, have made instant judgements incredibly easy, without forcing people to take the time to truly think things through.  Bullying has skyrocketed and too many teens and young adults are committing suicide over violent vitriolic posts on social media sites.

Still, on this particular holiday I have great hope that someday Dr. King may be able to look down and smile upon a nation that finally accepts people as they are and for who they are. Even though we may be taking a few steps back, we are still miles down the road from where Dr. King started.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

When Is Enough Rejection Enough?


I’ve been undergoing an Existential Writer Crisis for about the last year. I thought I’d be over it by now, but it just keeps getting worse. In fact, it’s really starting to feel like that “I give up entirely” feeling.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It’s my first memory (drawing a book); it was my identity in elementary school through college (Tanya Wants To Be A Writer); and it’s been the driving force in my life. Every experience I’ve had has been filtered through a writer’s experience. Knowing that I could write about something helped me be more adventurous, and it’s helped me cope.

With my 1st book, I self-published, knowing that the market was saturated with Chick Lit novels. Agents loved it, but no one wanted to invest. When “Blunder Woman” was published by Champagne Books, I thought my chance had finally happened. Once people discovered my work, they’d love it and I’d finally get those big contracts that many of my colleagues have.

Then the sales started rolling in. And by rolling, I mean barely a trickle. High hopes turned into sober reality. Not only were my books not the staggering success I really thought they’d be, they were virtually invisible in a world where a book is published nearly every second. I’ve probably sold less than fifty books; maybe closer to twenty-five.

I’ve done all the things you’re supposed to. I’ve built up a platform on Facebook and Twitter and my Blog. I’ve “engaged with my readers”. I’ve joined writer groups and attended conferences where I’ve pitched my novel, received requests, and then had a response of silence. I’ve written through pain and loss and love and beauty. And I keep writing.

The question is…do I keep promoting? How long do you keep sending your work out until you realize that maybe your best is only second rate? When is enough rejection enough?

I don’t know. I struggle with this every day.

I try to remain upbeat and positive, but lately I feel pummeled. And it’s coming from all sides. My kids are in a moody difficult phase. They don’t like anything I cook. They don’t like anything I do for them. They’re annoyed by me. Husband has been sick for two weeks and is not himself and grumpy. Teaching is good, but it’s still a one-year contract, so maybe I’m not good enough for a real-long-term job. Narrating is going well, but I can’t seem to get work at any other companies.

It’s like I’m doing okay, but am consistently second-rate. And it’s making me tired.

Now I’m asking a real question of myself: how much has my pursuit of this dream kept me from actually living? If I look at everything through a writer’s lenses, does it separate me from everyone else? And when is it okay to give up?

I submitted “Foodies Rush In” to three online presses. It was through a pitch session. Two writers from this pitch session already got offers (within 24 hours!). I’ve heard nothing. I’ve made a last ditch effort with Foodies…had it edited, have someone creating a cover for it so that I can self-publish this too. But it does feel like the last gasp before dying. I’m putting the last of my belief and energy into getting this book out there. I never wanted self-publishing. I wanted to be a ‘real’ writer. I know the arguments. Everyone will say “You ARE a real writer”. But that’s not what I wanted. I wanted a contract. I wanted my books in a bookstore. So, I guess the dirty shameful secret is that I didn’t want to be JUST a writer; I wanted to make a living at it. I really thought I could.

It’s not happening for me. I’ve seen friends appear on NY Times Bestsellers lists, NY Notables, books distributed nationally, highlighted as Michigan Authors, even a guy I dated in college was on the Daily Show. I can’t even get my books into a local bookstore and give a reading because I’m ‘just a local author’.

When is it okay to let go?

I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m just tired of constantly working and trying. Maybe I just need a vacation from being a writer for a while. And I need to go out and win a ribbon for something. Anything. I just need something besides yet another rejection after decades of rejection.

I’m sure some of you can relate.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why I Don't Bake...


The picture pretty much says it all. 

Those are supposed to be scones. They aren't months old, found hidden in some warm, moist, long-forgotten drawer. I made them this afternoon. 

I had an issue with the blueberries. They may have been shoved in the back corner of my freezer for much longer than they should have. So when I mixed them in, the berries turned the whole batter purple, which after baking created this wonderful moldy-looking confection. 

My son says he doesn't like green muffins. I'm not sure I find them appetizing either. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Laws of Attraction

If you've ever read (of been on Netflix and have seen) The Secret, you should. It deals with the "strongest force in the universe" which is the law of attraction. Don't worry, they explain and it's pretty compelling. It discusses how you can live your best life now, filled with abundance and positive thinking.

But I like to overreach. I know, you're surprised. I liked the presentation of the law so much, that I decided to apply it... EVERYWHERE!

Case in point: Bronwyn Green (love you honey, but we all know this is true), has a freak magnet. Strange strangers approach her all the time to tell her random personal stuff. John Denver stuff. Hanging out, trapped, in the car repair shop stuff. Reading over her shoulder stuff. It's hilarious. I propose that she knows it's going to happen, expects it to happen and therefore "by the laws of attraction!" (attach echoing announcer's voice to that), she brings it to herself.

Having used that as my example, then, you can understand why my ridiculous dating experience is all my fault. Like Bronwyn, I attract my own brand of freaks. Now, I'm not saying that my following script is freaky because someone has a...leaning, but because the guys I talk to don't seem to know their audience. Or try to know their audience before they hit me with the big guns.

Another case in point, ala true story:













~Mia

Mia Watts also writes as Katie Blu. You can find her at www.MiaWatts.com, www.MiaWatts.blogspot.com, Twitter: MiaWatts, Facebook: Mia Watts, and on  Thursdays www.ThreeWickedWriters.blogspot.com

New Releases: Nailing the Boss, Katie Blu (EC for Men line, EllorasCave.com)
Upcoming: Skin Deep, Katie Blu (Resplendence Publishing, January 25th)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Big Race

Writing, like any project or goal, is like a race. There’s a beginning, middle, end. Training and preparation make for an effective start. I’ve been working on my routine lately, going so far as to create what I call a World Class Routine. (I heard that phrase recently and became immediately infatuated.) Committed to this routine, I’m back in the race, so to speak.

I made a list of everything I wanted to improve or add in my life, getting back to my work-out schedule, daily writing, flossing, drinking enough water. All those areas in my life where sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. Then I started with my morning routine and figured out where my weak areas were and addressed those first. I realized that my biggest problem was leaving my important activities for the end of the day, after I’d gotten home from work. So I’d stay up late and try to get everything done while trying to relax and unwind at the same time. It’s not an effective combination.

My biggest change is going to bed at a decent hour so I can get up and work out. Once that’s out of the way, my evening gains at least an hour. Not that I always worked out at night, but feeling the pressure of leaving my walk and exercise undone put a real damper on my evening.

All this to say that I equate my new routine to the training phase of a race. Once I’m at the starting line, whether a real race, a new chapter in my novel, or even a writing conference, I experience the giddy excitement of beginning. The excitement doesn’t last too long because the work begins. During this part of the writing or big race or any big project, looking at the end-goal will get me through the tedium of the middle. Crossing the finish line is exhilarating! Then it’s on to the next accomplishment.

I never want to be a wannabe. If I want to accomplish a goal, I want to find a way to make it happen. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of making a couple small changes to get on track. What do you do to get yourself back in the race?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paint Job and a Contest!!!

Nearly there!

There's a corner of our family room that used to have a tall entertainment center bolted to the wall. When we got rid of our old TV and replaced it with a flat screen last year, we no longer had use for the old furniture. When my hubby removed the screws, it left large holes in the wall. It took several months - okay, it took nearly 10 months - for me to get around to spackling them.

Then I had to find the right paint on the basement shelves to match the family room walls. The trouble was the paint was 7 years old, and wasn't quite the same anymore, which was obvious after I painted over the spackle.

I took the can to Home Depot and they mixed up some new stuff based on the numbers on the sticker label on the lid. After applying several more coats to an increasingly large area, it was obvious the color was wrong - too orange.

Did I mention these are deep red walls that took 6 coats of paint originally to get the depth of color I wanted? The chances of matching this color is practically nil.


But I wasn't defeated yet. I went back to Home Depot and grabbed about 20 paint sample cards in deep red. The family voted for their match, and we bought a small sample jar.

I've applied 3...4? coats over the past few days, trying to replicate the layered textured look of the original color. It's getting closer, and in poor lighting it's barely noticeable. The trouble is that in daylight it's glaringly obvious where the line of demarcation is. After applying the last two coats, I've used a wet washcloth to try to smudge the line. It's sorta working.

If this room wasn't so big with so many cut-outs (cut-ins?), I would have just given the whole room a new coat of paint. But that was way more work than I was looking to do.

So in the meantime, I sit here and watch paint dry...and pray the color will match.

What about you? Any home improvement projects planned for the new year?

CONTEST!!!
Today's the last day to enter to win a Kindle Fire from 6 erotic authors.
To learn more and enter, please visit my blog here.

Good luck!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Television Writing

Do you remember what families used to be like several years ago? When I was growing up, I remember how I'd go to school and race home to tell my mom about my day. Then, we'd make dinner and sit down and eat as a family at the diner table. Afterward, there would be time to play outside, complete homework, and then sit down as a family and enjoy watching a good television program.

How I miss the television programs of the past. Do you remember the following programs:
Cheers
Home Improvement
The Bill Cosby Show
Life Goes On
Seinfeld
Family Matters
Alf
Boy Meets World
Friends
These are programs that almost everyone loved.

In regards to television programs and movies of today, it seems the writing has changed. Now, don't get me wrong, there are several good programs. It just seems the writing overall isn't as good as it used to be.

Look at the movies that are made today. Most of the movies are quickly written, produced, and sent to the theaters by Hollywood. Many of the stories have been retold over and over. For example, Spiderman, Little Red Riding Hood, Footloose, etc. are movies that keep being remade. Many movies, if not retold, are also created from novels. Examples are the Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings, and Nicholas Sparks books. Some of these stories are told in a very positive and enjoyable way. But some tales just don't stand out as an exceptional story.

Especially focusing on this new year, I hope writers who are trying to make their mark in the world, telling a good story in a new light, are able to become published and noticed. Though I don't mind some of the television programs or the movies that are occasionally produced, I wish we could become more family oriented with a positive and inspiring message for the younger generations. Or more so, I wish writers who have a story to tell with a different way of telling the story, are published. A new year, a fresh tale, and lots of remarkable programs would be great.

To those who continue writing and striving to become published, please don't give up. It's stories like yours that we need to hear. :)

Happy Writing!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Balancing Act - Life, Writing, and Responsibilities

It's the beginning of a new year, resolutions are being made, celebrations and decorations are winding down and nearly everyone hopes things will be better in 2012. I'm no exception, but the changing of the years can also bring time for reflection or sometimes it just the ball life throws at us at a point in time that causes the reflection.

I think on the Writer's Evolution Blog it lists me as a rookie - the newbie - I kind of like it, because it means that I'm still learning and there is a huge path ahead of me. Sometimes it's fun because no body really knows what you're going to do next, but sometimes it sucks.

2012 for me is about regaining balance in all facets of my life. This year starts with a promise to myself to set goals and to work towards my goals and to reduce the clutter - physical and emotional - in my life. Part of it starts with reclaiming my office and my life. Because I let it go chaotically haywire - even if I couldn't control what happened to me, I absolutely can control how I react and reacted - I have to work twice as hard to regain trust, to regain lost abilities and lost confidence - from myself and others.

Most of my non-writing goals for this year center around regaining my balance and relearning to be me. It'll be a hard journey, but it will absolutely be worth it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vanity or Self




After sending my 2 children's books to only 4 different publishers that accept solicited material, and getting rejected - I thought of trying to get an agent.  Because not very many children's book publishers will even look at any material without an agent.  So I took advantage of an opportunity to attend a Writer's Conference to meet an agent.  The agent had informed me that it is always better to have an agent to submit material to publishing companies, because the material goes directly to the person that makes the judgement instead of getting weeded out by interns.  The agent also said they would love to work with me, so I emailed per request TWICE and no feedback.  So I began to ponder the best solution to get my books published.  The first question was about whether or not I truly believe in my books, and would I enjoy reading them to my child.  HECK YES....   My only personal issue was my own personal drawings, I wasn't happy with them.  So if I'm not happy with them, then why in the heck should I expect anyone else to be.  Thinking of having someone that is a stranger draw pictures for my books bothered me a bit knowing my mother and sister are the artists in the family.  So I finally talked my mom into drawing the pictures, and I am absolutely happy with them.  The next step was to figure out if I should self-publish or use a vanity publisher.  Self-publishing takes alot of hard work and motivation.  After talking to a few authors that have done self-publishing, I began to wonder if it truly is the best option.  Self-publishing does not get much marketing without a publisher, but you do get to keep 100% of the profit.  It is actually a catch 22.

To Self-Publish you need to:

  • Set up a publishing company
  • Get ISBN numbers
  • Set up distribution
  • Get Edited
  • Figure out cover design, color, and picture quality
  • Printing of the book (print on demand) could be an option (ebooks)
  • Marketing
  • Copyright (optional)

Self-publish means that you have to do all of the work, unless you pay do get help.  To use a vanity publisher, there is a flat fee and a percentage of royalty for books that sell.  Grant it, it's a percentage, but it takes care of everything up front. 

To use a Vanity Publisher:

  • Get approval of books
  • Publisher does the marketing
  • You own rights to do what you please, and sell your book whereever you want
  • Editing is included
  • Cover design, color, and picture quality is included
  • Have publisher name on books the help sell for first time authors
  • Copyright included
After some research, and even reading the book by Richard Paul Evans "The Miracle of The Christmas Box" I realized that it is very difficult to get your book into stores to sell if nobody knows who you are.  Which makes perfect sense.  Stores are more willing to sell a nobody's book with a publishers name rather than no publishers name at all.  So I came to the conclusion to use vanity publishing to have everything done for me through one place to get the extra marketing and publisher name
2 Moon Press has approved of my children's books and is in process of publishing them now.  My first book "Sammy and his Lucky Hat" should be ready to sell by February 2012.  This has also been a dream of mine for over 15 years, and I am finally doing something about it.  This is very exciting to see the beginning stages of my cover.  Woohoo......

Jamie Chester
Sammy the Frog









Motivation and Pity Parties

By W.S. Gager
Today I thought I would whine for a while. No, don’t stop reading. I really have a point but first I get to develop a bit of sympathy before I move on. This past couple of months have been incredibly frustrating and painful for me. I’ve had a shoulder problem for over a year and thanks to “I can fix that easy” doctor, my calcium deposit in my right shoulder turned into a full blown hole in my tendon resulting in rotator cuff surgery before Christmas.

The thing is that I could have lived with the annoying pain for a while. (Yes, it hurts a bit but I can still function.) The quick fix turned into a I can’t even think pain. (Stabbing bursts that shoot down my arm on a regular basis or at least whenever I tried to type or move my appendage.) Enter doctor number two who showed me the hole, the reason for the pain and loss of strength and two weeks later I had surgery. Recuperating with lots of family and holiday distractions kept me from my computer. However the last week I’ve been waking up early with lots of great ideas running through my head and no idea how to capture them. Holding a pen for very long really kills and my family hid the laptop which I’ve now found. The stabbing pain is mostly gone except when I do something stupid, like try and lift my arm for anything. Have I mentioned it was my right arm and guess what handed I am? I have this lovely sling that I must be in for at least three more weeks that straps my arm at my side to protect it from injury while it heals, according to my doctor. It has two straps that wrap around and over me and another two that Velcro across my arm making my lower armed affixed to my side with great force.

The good news is my mind and imagination are back. Pain is not conducive to creativity and the last couple of days I’ve been trying to get back to the keyboard. That d$&# sling blocks my arm and my short fingers from reaching the keys. This morning, thanks to that great imagination, I woke up at 5 a.m. with a great idea how to defeat the sling. I’m still wearing it as ordered but tipped my laptop down at a 45 degree angle and moved my arm a bit further out of the sling than it was designed for but I’m not out of the sling. Typing this only gave me a few tingles. No pain, at least not yet and the doctor said I could type but not for long periods of time at one sitting. I don't think he figured that I would defeat the sling.

If I could, I would be doing cartwheels but I’m pretty sure that is not in my recommended list of activities. And since it is very early morning and my kids can’t see me work, they still have to cook and clean and all those activities that poor mom can’t do because she can’t move her arm. Yes, I’m still whiney but just for the kids’ motivation. I’ve figure out how to write and that is the best medicine! When you are a writer, the most painful thing of all is not being able to. If I can write with my arm in a sling, you can find a minute to jot some words down. What more motivation do you need?

Come met me in person and hopefully without the sling from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Literary Life Bookstore & More, 758 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids.

W.S. Gager has lived in West Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional woman's golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted and write mystery novels. Her main character is Mitch Malone who is an edgy crime-beat reporter single-mindedly hunting for a Pulitzer Prize. A Case of Infatuation won the Dark Oak Contest in 2008 and A Case of Accidental Intersection took first place in the Public Safety Writers Contest in the unpublished category. She loves to hear from readers at wsgager@yahoo.com or on her blog at http://wsgager.blogspot.com/. Check out my blog later today and maybe I will put up some photos of me in my sling!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Toy...err, I mean, A New Tool

I'm entering my fifth year as a writer - whew, where has the time gone? - and I've decided to take a step up from relying solely on a word processor to create my works of fiction. A fellow member of this writing group started researching novel writing programs in December and was excited to show me what she found. It got me thinking of how I could really use something like that to create a Series Bible for the new set of books I want to start writing this year.

After poking around online myself, I decided to download the trial version of Scrivener. The demo version is good for 30 days, and those are actual days of usage, not 30 consecutive calendar days. It comes with a brilliantly written tutorial that I've been making my way through because if I'm going to spend my money on something like this, I want to know what all the features are and how I can best use them. It's a very flexible and easy to learn program, and I'm excited to import my material to start playing, err, working with it.

I've never been one to use note cards, but these virtual ones look like so much fun, don't they? The ability to split the screen in a huge variety of configurations is amazing. And the Research feature allows you to import pictures, video, audio files, and other files. Plus, they have a writing mode that blocks out everything else on your screen, other than the page you are writing on, and you can customize the background image.

So for me, the new year means a new writing toy...err tool, to bring better organization and a little of the fun back to my writing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 is MY year





Like most people, I make New Year's resolutions on January 1 each year that are usually skipped by January 7 and totally forgotten by February 1. I'm sure I'm not alone.  Most people can't remember what they resolved the previous year except that it was probably something about starting a diet or a healthier life style.

But this year, that's going to change. 

The crazies keep telling us that the world is going to end in 2012, so if I'm ever going to accomplish my dreams, this year is it. 

No, I'm not talking about a diet or losing weight...good Lord, I've worked for decades to build this shape, why would I want to mess with it now? Besides, if I'm going to spend Eternity without cheesecake and coffee, I'm sure not going to deprive myself of them now -- and Prime Rib, got to have Prime Rib and Carrot Cake and cream curls -- yes, definitely cream curls. Oh and we can't forget M&Ms and Lake Perch dinners and ....

Okay, so maybe I could work on that food addiction, too. :D 

But seriously, whether the world ends or not (NOT!) I absolutely refuse to waste another day making excuses.  I've given myself a bad case of Paralysis by Analysis over my writing by comparing it to my favorite authors, other member's writers, and some vague ideal set forth by my inner editor.  Well, this is it!  Let this serve as notice to Ms. Inner Editor that you are being sent on a long term vacation.  I will summon you when I am ready to see you.  I will no longer be dictated by your whims.  So tale off for Cancun, Cabo or wherever you choose to go because you are no longer welcome to reside in my head.

My mother used to tell me: "How you begin the new year is how you will end the year." So, New Year's Day, I decided to spend the day relaxing and writing since those are the things I enjoy the most (after my wonderful family of course).  The day was wonderful.  I hated for it to end.  Mom, I hope you are right, and I'll finish the year having just as much writing fun.

Hope all of you have a wonderful 2012, too.  May all your wishes and personal dreams come true!

~ Stephanie

Monday, January 2, 2012

What a Year Brings!
So here we are on January 2nd, our second day into the new year and it's my birthday as well, so surely a time to contemplate what the last year brought and what the new year might bring. First off, I sold a bunch of e-books which made everything feel better! Our writer's group had a successful writer's conference which was great. We'd talked about doing it for several years from the time of our first forming, but had somehow always decided the time wasn't right. Finally, some enterprising gals took courage in hand and went at it with focus and determination. They were unbeatable. I was very impressed by their efforts and the final results. Altogether a fun year with strong women that I've grown to love and admire. Plus there was a lot of success in our writer's group which inspires you in your own efforts.
On a more personal level, I got new knees which took away a lot of pain and makes life better. I've enjoyed my family more than ever and I think life is wonderful. Oh yes, did I mention I'm a bit of a Pollyanna, better than being a grumpy ass.
My goals and expectations for the coming year are to get my books out in a timely fashion, to write better than I ever have and create some truly memorable characters. My second goal is to lose weight, damn it! My next goal is to bring about world peace and make sure every child has a loving home and food to eat. Though I say this lightly, I truly wish I could impact some of the misery in the world, especially to children who are the first to suffer in almost every instance.
I want to love my family more and be a good Samaritan, to clean all the clutter corners in my house and attic, to be more organized, less procrastinating and more thoughtful to friends and family. I want to curb my shopping fetish and spend more time on more meaningful pursuits. I want to become a better speller. I want to figure out what God put me on earth for and what He's waiting for me to do to fulfill my potential as a human being. I want to understand more of everything, to be less judgmental and more accepting of others and all their foibles. I want to protect everyone I love and even those I don't know. I want to be a super hero and have my house sparkling clean all the time. I want to grow more as a human being and I want to thank all those who are in my life and help me do that. I try hard not to be greedy, but I want God to give me gobs of years yet, so I can enjoy life for a long time. I guess I just want to thank God for the good life, good friends, wonderful family and in the end the promise of His salvation. It's going to be another great year, isn't it?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's the Year of the Dragon!

Water Dragon from ctnews.com

Growing up in Grand Rapids I was raised with Christian doctrines, so I didn't really learn much about the Chinese zodiac except what I read on Chinese restaurant menus. But as I met and became acquainted with my Japanese relatives I learned the twelve signs of their zodiac play a very important part in their everyday lives, and I started to investigate. I'm not sure I will ever totally buy into all the system, but it's fun to take a look and see what some people say will happen.
According to the Asian calendar, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. To be more specific, it's the year of the Water Dragon. Each of the twelve signs of the zodiac has an association with one of the earth elements - water, wood, fire, earth, and metal - so the year 2000 was the year of the Metal Dragon, 1988 was the Earth Dragon, 1976 was the Fire Dragon and 1964 was the Wood Dragon. The "New Year" actually begins on January 23 and ends on February 9, 2013. Having checked out a few sources it looks like this will be a great year for creativity - and that's a wonderful thing for people like teachers, musicians and authors. For people who spend time in all three fields, that's wonderful news!
While the western world views dragons as fearful, fire-breathing creatures, the Asian view of a dragon is more benevolent in its power. They are viewed as wise and intelligent. All are great attributes for those of us who write.
Elephant Journal had an interesting proclamation: "If you have an East facing door, sleep to the East or your home faces the East this will be a good year to meet a new lover and is also good for getting a book published." I'm not too eager to meet a new lover, but the book publishing deal sounds good. It might be worth turning my bed around.
Whatever your beliefs, whatever your motivation, here's a toast to you and your endeavors. May your accomplishments be many and your pitfalls few. May the fire in your dragon be filled with power and benevolence, and may your every need be filled.
Happy 2012!