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Category: My Writing Experience

Defining My LIfe – Defining Moments Don’t Have to Define Your Life

Defining My LIfe – Defining Moments Don’t Have to Define Your Life

Defining My Life

Defining my life fell into two separate and distinct periods of time; life before my daughter was born with a terminal disease and the path life took after. The single defining moment for me, was that second, that single moment before she was born (via C-section) and that long moment when I realized she wasn’t crying, that something was very wrong.

It sticks with you, these defining moments. Sometimes you can find yourself as a victim of the moment and let it drag you under, or you can use the moment to step forward and redefine your life and your dreams.

I fell somewhere in between. I found a way to move on, to raise my other daughter, have another child. While moving on, I seemingly found myself a victim of my circumstance, stagnating and letting that single moment define who I was.

Re Defining My Life

I read Harry Potter. I loved Harry Potter. It did more than entertain; it woke up a passion in me that I hadn’t realized was there.

That, coupled with a meeting of a former classmate at a twentieth class reunion, forced me to look at my life and the choices I made and something inside of me changed. I no longer wanted to let life and the bad things define how I lived my life. It was time for me to take control.

I remembered for the first time in years, that I had a dream. One that I cultivated since I was seven years old. I wanted to be a writer.

Writing That First Book

I tried over the years to write a book. I stopped at chapter 1 or paragraph 1, never completely understanding how to craft that story. Never really understanding what it was that I even wanted to say.

But this time, the jealously that my classmate was a published author and my sadness that had accumulated over a lifetime, forced me to open the book and really think about what story I wanted to tell.

It wasn’t very good or very long and it took many attempts to reach the published versions I have online. I look back at the first time I typed “The End” on that very first draft and I can’t help but be proud, I can’t help but realize my life is no longer defined by one single event.

Now I’m Defined

Now I’m a writer, who is a mother, one who lost a child. I write about the loss and how it affects me, but not as a single defining moment. It happened and it makes me sad and it always will. But it won’t always make a victim of that circumstance. I finally found the confidence to truly move on and I now weave those emotions and memories into my writing to give it depth and meaning. I’m no longer defined by it, I define how I use it to motivate and move on.

 

 

 

 

Why Do You Write – Where Does the Passion Come From?

Why Do You Write – Where Does the Passion Come From?

Why do I write?

So why do I write? It’s an intriguing question; to ask someone why they do what they do. What brought them to their profession, hobby, fandom? I took to reading early, ravenously read through entire series. It didn’t matter if it was Nancy Drew, Judy Blume, Stephen King or Harry Potter. Always with each book, as I experienced all these adventures between the pages, what I really wanted to do was write my own story.

It is my passion.

I am a self-proclaimed introvert. Being the center of attention is uncomfortable, confining. But when I write, I am free of anxiety, of fear. It is on the paper that I can write and re-write to craft the words that express my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions.

To be a writer, is what I have wanted to do since I was seven years old. I have never wavered from my desire to create my own worlds, my own stories and characters. To create something lasting. When I can’t form the words with my mouth, I can always type them with my fingers.

I’ve always been able to write about anything. Though sometimes, I just don’t know what to write. But when I do, it gives me power, it gives me confidence.

I love finishing that first book, letting the story pour out of me. It gives me a great sense of pride with each draft when I see the story fill itself out, when I link each book to the other as I tell a complete story. I don’t feel as confident with anything else in my life as I do when I write.

And through the highs and lows in my life, to write it was keeps me sane. When I don’t write, heavy emotions can wear my down. Writing is my therapy. It is my strength.

Why Do I Write?

I write because simply, writing is a part of me. When darkness gathers and envelopes me, writing is my light. It is my fire. I was born to do nothing else.

Pass it On

I read a blog Tara M. Martin . It was there she answered the same question; why does she write? So I had this idea to share why I wrote. And then it occurred to me. I’m going to pass the question on. To all my writer friends, why do you write? To all my non-writer friends, what is your passion.

Life should not be passionless. We should dance, sing, write exercise, mediate; do something we are passionate about every day. Every day.

 

Six Sins of the Writer – In Otherwords – Insecurity

Six Sins of the Writer – In Otherwords – Insecurity

We writers all do it, let our insecurity get in the way of what we’re trying to accomplish. We let it hold us back. Something I’m finding as I take a very personal book and shop it to agents. After 9 query letters, I’ve received 9 No’s. It makes me want to stop, hide the book under my pillow and cry.

After spending the last 7 weeks healing from shoulder surgery, I’ve had a lot of time to think, a lot of time to re-assess and a lot of time to feel sorry for myself. I’m not where I want to be physically or professionally, I’m not this, I’m not where I should be. I started thinking about the Writer’s Deadly Sins.

The Insecurity of Fear –

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Franklin D. Roosevelt

I’m terrified to send the next letter, put myself out there, expose myself and a book that became something so personal it feels like each rejection is a rejection of myself and my person. It’s ridiculous, I know. And yet, I promised myself I’d sent out three query letters a night. After the 9th rejection, I haven’t sent out another. I will tonight, I swear it!

The Insecurity of Comparing Yourself to Other Writers –

Try not to get lost in comparing yourself to others. Discover your gifts and let them shine! Jennie Finch

This is my biggest fault as a writer. More so because I see others succeeding where all I feel I’m doing is spinning my wheels. I try this, I try that, and all I’m looking for is a simple boost, a simple jump from nothing to one, just to show I’m making progress. Sometimes I stop reading other’s posts on Facebook because I just can’t deal my own lack of confidence.

I’m me, however, once in a while the comparison might lead to something amazing. Like when I walked into my 20th class reunion. I’ve talked about speaking with a former classmate, Joy Meredith who I found out was a published author. The jealous, the anger at myself grew and pulsed until I finally sat down to write my first book.

Still, don’t compare yourself to other writers. It’s not apples to apples, it different genres, different stories. Just be you.

Not Giving Yourself a Break –

Women need to hear the words, ‘It’s okay if things don’t go exactly the way you want them to.’ Give yourself a break! Brooke Burke

To sell books you need to market them. That means social media, blogging, book fairs. There’s so many pieces in the overall scheme I get overwhelmed when I realize I’m not doing everything there is to do. I read The 30 Book Marketing Challenge, by Rachel Thompson, which was set up to be doing something everyday for a 30 day period. And I did. I was crazy with carving out the time to look at a new website, change-up a Facebook page, tweet something important. It made me nutty, depressed, jealous. Yes, I recognize I need to be doing most of the things she wrote about but realistically, I was not getting graded on my work, it will not make me a best seller after 30 days. What it will do is help. Rather than making myself nutty, I should have given myself a break, taken one action when I could and realize that it wasn’t going to change over night. I can only do what I can do; after all, I work full-time, write in my free time, raise two children and care for a house.

Insecurity makes you Forget to be Proud of Your Accomplishments –

You have to remember that the hard days are what make you stronger. The bad days make you realize what a good day is. If you never had any bad days, you would never have that sense of accomplishment! Aly Raisman

I might not be where I want to be but I can’t forget that I’ve published three books and have written another three. That’s six books that I have fretted and stressed over, that I have passionately crafted. Not everyone can say they’ve written a book. I’ve written six and I need to remember that I have accomplished something. And if I want more, I will grab hold of the accomplishment and carry it around proudly.

Insecurity and Forgetting Your Passion –

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Maya Angelou

Writing makes me happy. I find confidence when I craft a story and when the story works with the series. Sometimes I forget what I really need to do is write passionately.

My last writer’s sin…

…is to forgetting the seven-year old I was so many years ago. She’s the one who fell in love with Nancy Drew and the detective story and she’s the one who decided definitively that she wanted to be a writer.  I need to remember myself when I was her and honor the dream I came up with so long ago. I know what I want to do, now all I need is to take another step in that direction.

 

Life – Writing Your Own Story, Literally and Figuratively

Life – Writing Your Own Story, Literally and Figuratively

My Life – A Raging Tornado

Life, my life has been a roller coaster, of highs and lows, some so low, I thought that there would never, ever be another problem to contend with for the rest of my life. I’ve struggled to get pregnant, I’ve gotten pregnant easily. I had a difficult pregnancy, I’ve had an easy one. I carried twins, I’ve carried a single baby. I’ve given birth to three children, one born with a genetic disability that took her life at 11 months old; I have a child with such severe anxiety, that it has been a struggle for her and the family to live something normal, and now I deal with a transgender child.

As soon as I think I’m coming to the end of the roller coaster, just as it’s ready to pull into the station, I instead, and catapulted back to the first loop d’loop to start the journey again.

My Life – Yes, Sometimes I feel Sorry for Myself

I could have become an alcoholic, or a drug addict or harmed myself, but I didn’t. I thought for a while I was handling the lows, coming through them and surviving. What I was doing was merely surviving, allowing myself to merely be a victim of my circumstances. And yes, in that I felt sorry for myself. Sometimes it’s hard not to do that. After all that I’ve seen, all that I’ve lived through, after life battering me, throwing me from one situation to another, I realized, it’s okay to feel this way. Sometimes you have to let it go and simply feel for the loss of what you thought life would be. But what’s not okay, is wallowing for too long in the low.

My Life – At the Edge of the Abyss

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the 19 years of parenting. It’s okay to not be perfect. And it’s okay to put yourself first. I’ve stood at the edge of the Abyss with the universe pushing me, pressing me against the edge, laughing as I slip on the weakened earth beneath my feet. And as it pushing me toward the deep end, the my bottom, I’ve learned one last thing about myself. I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be. And I shouted at the universe “NO! You can’t have me!”

Writing is what saved me from losing my mind, from letting the weight of the problems overwhelm me and victimize me. Twice this week I’ve heard myself saying or thinking, “We write our own story. ” Literally and figuratively that is. Granted life has a funny way of shoving us down certain paths, but what we do with these changes, is up to us. We write our own story.

My Life – My Passion is the Written Word

I write. It is my priority. It is my love and it is my passion. Someday I hope to do this as my living, not my “hobby” as I learn how to find a fan base big enough to allow me to live my dream. And what I’ve learned about that is, “You must never give up.” It’s that drive, that desire that has kept me grounded, that has made me a better mom, a better person. It builds my confidence, it makes me whole. It is what keeps me from falling off the roller coaster when it whips me around.

This is my life for better or for worse. And I’ve made my choice on how I write it. The glass will always be half full as long as you have the confidence in yourself to make it so.

See the glass as half full and find me at the following book fairs, Summer, 2017.

Printer’s Row Lit Fest

Ann Arbor Book Festival 2017

 

 

 

Confidence: My name is Sheryl Steines and I’m a Local Author.

Confidence: My name is Sheryl Steines and I’m a Local Author.

All it Takes is Confidence

Even social media is difficult for an introvert, who oftentimes lacks basic confidence. So what’s an inspiring author supposed to do when she needs to recruit strangers to help with a social media campaign?

You pretend you’re not shy, or an introvert and you fake yourself out, acting as though you really have no problem making conversation with totally random strangers.

But they weren’t so random, the locations were selected carefully. We wanted cool., comfortable, roomy enough to spread out our stuff; the camera equipment, the books, the giveaways, the props.

But I had to recruit, dig deep and walk up to the ones I wanted. The kids that looked like they might like an urban fantasy, who weren’t so engrossed in conversation it would be a complete intrusion.

And There Goes the Confidence

With a deep breath and a lot reserve, I introduced myself as if I owned it, as if I exuded confidence and asked for what I wanted. The first guy gracefully declined, he was meeting someone soon. I thanked him for his time and moved on.

It was a perfect location. a coffee shop. There were four of them, twenty something’s out on a Sunday afternoon. Some with backpacks and homework, all of them with their phones. I was surprised how willing they were to have their pictures taken. They graciously did as we asked as my friend and photographer Jim took their pictures.

In exchange, I gave them copies of book one, The Day of First Sun. I gave them some swag. They were nice and they seemed to enjoy the surprise in their day, something different, something unique.

Am I Really an Introvert?

The funny thing is, I always tell people I’m an introvert. Which I probably am, until I find myself in a perfectly comfortable situation. A happy place, where I do what I love, in a place where I’m passionate for what I do. Maybe all those times I thought I was shy and unable to do things is because I really didn’t find that thing I loved, or I forgot what it was that I wanted to be when I grew up.

I seemed to have found my confidence, my strength. When I write, when I talk about my books, when I attend book fairs, those things I once thought were scary aren’t so much anymore. I’m drawn to the life of an author and I look forward to the experience that comes with it.

Come see me at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest on June 10th and 11th.

And for the first time I’ll be attending the Ann Arbor Book Festival on June 17th. I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait to share.

 

 

 

Creating News Events

Creating News Events

Creating News Events

As an independent author, I’m always searching for ways to create news events. Those events that bring my books to the public. I’ve sat at book fairs, and comic

cons. There were advertisements, and book catalogues. Who can forget the tweeting and sharing on social media? I can’t tell you how many marketing promos have led to free Kindle Fires for participating bloggers that I’ve given away. All in all, the results have been varied.

Now I’m looking for new ways to create news events that are different, fun and worthwhile.

Seize Those Opportunities

Opportunities come from anywhere, by simply retweeting and sharing an author’s book posts. Or aggressively advertising on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe a friend direct messaged an opportunity based on a shared interest. Or sometimes you just stumble across something interesting, different and new.

Where the idea is born doesn’t matter, as long as you seize the opportunities as they cross your path. You never know where it could lead.

So when you say yes to the news events as you find them, in time you share those websites and links with others to spread the news. Please, visit and share these sites and the great work these bloggers and reviewers do.

Bloggers Carry the Weight

Trisha Sugarek, Writer at Play: MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?   November was best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series. January is Dinah Jefferies and February’s author is Sheryl Steines.

http://www.writeratplay.com/2017/02/17/interview-with-sci-fi-author-sheryl-steines/

http://www.writeratplay.com/2017/02/25/interview-with-author-sheryl-steines-part-2/

 

Midwest Book Review:  “Established in 1976, the Midwest Book Review is an organization committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. The MBR publishes the following monthly book review magazines specifically designed for community and academic librarians, booksellers, and the general reading public:”

http://www.midwestbookreview.com/sbw/dec_16.htm#Fantasy/SciFi

 

ThreeifbySpace.net:  Need a Good Read? Books by Outlander Fans Fill the Bill

“We’re a reading bunch. I like big books, and I cannot lie… of course, we all love Diana’s books (or why else are we here!), but many of her fans are authors themselves. And since November is the month to turn yourself into an author – it’s NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month – it seemed appropriate to introduce you to some Outlander fans who have taken that big leap and put out their talent for you to enjoy. Here’s a good selection of books written by fellow Outlander fans that are available to purchase and read (some of the books are free for Kindle users!) – support your friends! This is, I’m sure, not a complete list – if you have a published (self or traditional) book, feel free to leave info in the comments! Click on book titles to learn more and buy?” by Erin Conrad  https://www.threeifbyspace.net/2016/11/need-good-read-books-outlander-fans-fill-bill/

 

 

 

 

Book Release, New Website, Oy the Changes

Book Release, New Website, Oy the Changes

A writer’s life.

It started with a rewrite.

It wasn’t working. It was no one’s fault, but what do you change when it feels like you’re mired in a sticky, muddy mess?

My first change was the book itself. It didn’t feel right, some plot lines hadn’t been resolved; something did feel quite right; it affected the writing of the next book. I must say the rewrite was better than I could have imagined. That sparked an entire series rethink, which spurred … well it led to an excitement, a new confidence. And now after seven years, I finally have a series that clicked on all cylinders. I couldn’t have imagined it had I planned it that way.

Now What?

I wanted to sell the new version of The Day of First Sun. I was nervous, scared…did I really make the right change? Was it good at all? I sold the book at Book Con, Chicago 2016. One week after the sale, I received a Facebook message from  a reader, telling me she loved the book and couldn’t wait for book two.

I was no longer afraid to sell the book and decided then and there, when something doesn’t work, it’s time to dismantle the thing and start again.

My Twitter handle, the Facebook Author Page, and even this website became more streamlined, I had SEO (search engine optimization) to contend with, you know? And it all came together just in time for Black Market to be released. I’ve waited years for February 6, 2017 to arrive because I finally had the next book in the series. I was finally ready, the change was here.

And I can’t wait to see what happens.

 

 

My Author Journey

My Author Journey

My journey begins today!

Thoughts from today:

It’s been one hell of a journey, these last 7 years. In that time, I’ve been up and I’ve been down while at the same time and I’ve been standing still. It was time to make some major changes. It started with the complete rewrite of book one and restructuring my entire series. I had the blog completely recreated and organized. My Twitter handle and Facebook author page changed. I turned it upside down.

It’s funny though, because the struggles from seven years ago are still the struggles I have seven years into the journey. The only thing that’s changed is; I’m far more knowledgeable and maybe a little more confident about what I want and where I want to go. And as book two is finally about to be released, I remember and reminisce, and really the journey is still the same.

So here’s my Throwback Thursday blog from 2011.

I can’t believe that it’s been a year, this month, since I published The Day of First Sun. In that time, I’ve cried, complained, written, edited, worked on the blog, cried, hated Twitter, loved Twitter, cried, threw my computer down in disgust. I’ve researched, questioned other writers, sat for hours under a cold breeze at Wizard World, all in the hopes of finding that one thing, the one spark that would get my book out there in the market, in front of the right person.

In the first 11 months, I did what I was told would work. I got a Facebook author page, a Twitter Account, Amazon author page, sent letters to independent books stores in hopes I could get a book signing. But in that time all I’ve managed to do is sell my book to my friends and family and maybe some strangers. 

It’s always time well spent, on an anniversary, to take a moment to reflect on the past year and learn something from it. I learned I suck at marketing and I’m rather computer/internet illiterate.

No I actually did learn something valuable. I learned my passion and my love, is the path I should take. It fosters confidence, which breeds more confidence and that opens you to possibilities. I’ve always looked at the book as my product, one that I need to get to market. In an effort to accomplish that, I attended my first book expo and that was my greatest lesson. I realized how much I didn’t know about publishing and that I had choices to make; I either stop pursuing this journey, stop spending money in hopes that something good will happen, or I stop straddling the fence, jump in with both feet and make the dream a reality.

 

 

What Do You Do at the Fork in the Road?

What Do You Do at the Fork in the Road?

black-market-3b1JK Rowling always knew she had something good. I know I have something worthwhile; a full and complete book series that weaves the story throughout each book, that will, in the end, culminate to a final resolution.

After re-writing The Day of First Sun twice, commissioning several different book covers, and restructuring the series, I can finally say, I have a good product that will entertain someone, if I can find the right someone.

And now it’s time to release Black Market.

So what to do with my next book? I have an opportunity to sign with a publisher, but hairs on the back of my neck caution me. I can sign with the publicist and venture down an entirely different marketing promotion than anything I’ve ever done before. But will it gain me anything?

It weighs heavy on me; the direction should I pursue as I flip 180 degrees and back again, staying awake all night in a debate with myself.

Mistakes in my past come back to haunt me; the premature re-release of The Day of First Sun, without a marketing plan, because I really had no idea what to do, early editing errors that ran me in circles through multiple drafts, my inability to outline as story and stick to it.

As I wait for the final design of the interior layout of Black Market, I worry, will book two succeed if book one was just thrown in the marketplace?

It’s a question many independent authors ask as we muddle through the ups and downs of publishing. If we do this will it get us closer to our dreams, but what if it doesn’t?

I mull over options, I take a long hard look at the world I created, the media I’ve made. I ponder and ask my fellow indi authors, what did you do? What path did you take? Was it worth it?

The Day of First Sun available on Amazon.com.

The Day of First Sun - Copy to Use

 

Embrace Myself – I’m a Pantser and Proud to not Plot my Books

Embrace Myself – I’m a Pantser and Proud to not Plot my Books

What’s a pantser you ask?

I  didn’t embrace myself when I started to write. I assumed I was doing something wrong until I met other authors. As I quickly found out, there are two types of authors. One like JK Rowling who meticulously plans out the story. I’m sure if you’re a fan you’ve seen the notes and graphs of her outlines. She is what’s known as a plotter.

The other side of this is the writer who starts with an idea, a beginning, middle and end and sits in front of the computer screen and just writes. That would be Stephen King, He approaches his stories as if he’s discovered an artifact and as he writes, he carefully unearths the story. This is called a pantser.

And that is me.

Doing it wrong – embrace myself.

For the longest time I thought I was doing it wrong. The crafting of the story I thought might go smoother, easier if I could plan it out. Unfortunately for me, planning always goes off the rails and I end up writing by the seat of my pants anyway.

After reading On Writing, by Stephen King, I realized other authors write like me and I stopped fretting and worrying, and finally embraced my style, learned to work with the quirks rather than fitting my style into someone else’s.

But is this a good way to write?

Hell yes! As I write, I become kinda like the reader. I might have a direction in which I’m heading, but the story is slowly revealed to me and that includes twists and surprises. There have been times that the story unfolds and I will stare at the computer screen and think, “What the hell? I wasn’t expecting that!”

I enjoy the surprises, not knowing exactly what’s coming up for my characters. Though I must say, it can take more draft before the story is crafted the way that I like. But it is so worth the extra time. And I enjoy the surprises now that I embrace my process.

Lessons

Lesson in the first: Embrace yourself. Why fight your true nature. Learn to work within your quirks.

Lesson in the second: Know your limitations and find a work around. I know it will take me more than two drafts before I have a well crafted story. It’s just the way it is. I couldn’t be happier with how The Wizard Hall Chronicles are shaping up. It wouldn’t have been this good if I planned it.

Lesson in the third: Embrace who you are. When I stopped worrying about doing it like other authors and really looked at how I worked, whether it’s writing as a pantser or writing best between 1 and 7 in the afternoon, I worked better not harder.

Lesson in the fourth: I’m not a bad story teller and I have a good product. Be proud of your work, put the effort in and people will notice. I’ve been fortunate to have found some amazing fans. Now if I can only clone them and find more like them, it’ll be gravy.

So here’s to the writers who plan and plot and those of us who sit down and write and let the story unfold. We are who we are however we get there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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