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STORIES, THE COMPULSION TO WRITE: BRINGING WORLDS TO REALITY

STORIES, THE COMPULSION TO WRITE: BRINGING WORLDS TO REALITY

The Young Dreamer

When we are young, I think we all made up stories in our heads. Maybe when we were playing with dolls or building forts in our backyards. We made up the good guys and the bad guys. We made up the winners and the losers. We made up the fairies and the elves. We made up the happy ending. But at some point, for many of us, the stories stopped. Life got in the way — We went to college. We got a job. Kids needed to be fed. Dinner had to get on the table. Bills had to be paid. We no longer had the time to create princesses or dragons. The worlds we had created would simply fade away from reality.

Stories Are Still There

For some of us, however, the stories never went away. In fact, the worlds we were building in our heads became more and more solid, more real. The characters we were inventing compelled us to give them a voice. Every spare minute became lost in the world we were creating. Downtime became the cherished moments to let our imaginations reign free. Driving to work, scrubbing in the shower, breaking eggs over the stove – our heads would be writing dialogue, figuring out ways to save our heroine or mapping out the various paths our characters might take to resolve conflict. For us individuals, we became authors – compelled to make these worlds a reality.

So this is how I became an author. I realized that my daily musings were the foundation of a complex, interconnected world, with stories that I felt compelled to forth to others. When I daydreamed about Annie Pearce, it wasn’t just that I thought of a strong, interesting woman who balanced precariously on the seam between the magical and non-magical realms. Her life, dreams, abilities, family, fears, etc. all became apparent to me. I began to develop her story that would eventually span what would be a five book series. I felt compelled to make her world a reality.

How Far it Goes

Recently, I was explaining this frame of mind to a friend. I told her that I knew the back story to every single character – no matter the size of the role they play in my books. I know who marries who, the names of their children, the names of their grandchildren. Their lives have already been mapped out in my head, developed as I washed the dinner dishes or drove my kids to practice. I can see their stories so clearly and I know that they want me to share their journeys with all of you. And I guess that is what makes authors different from an imaginative child – we want our dreams into reality.

Are you still building worlds in your head? Do you want to make them into reality and don’t know where to start? Feel free to contact me I’d love to chat!

No Matter Her Age, Every Girl Can Be A Hero

No Matter Her Age, Every Girl Can Be A Hero

Hero Search

I search for a hero. It’s my current life’s quest or, in this case, of television time, it’s the theme I’m most drawn to as I clamor for a new television show. Generally I watch television for two reasons: first and simply, to entertain me.  Secondly and more complexly, I’m drawn to shows that resonate with me in some way. Lately it seems, I’m amenable to shows that center around strong female characters, women who fall and rise up again.

Who is a Hero

This could range from the obvious, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed come to mind. But it’s not the obvious I’m searching for. It’s more subtle, based in someway in reality. Stories centered around Queen Victoria or Claire Frasier in Outlander. Or even closer to home, the women of Criminal Minds.

A Hero to Lift Me Up

I fully admit, I’m in one of those valleys in life when things seem impossible, too hard. A time when I feel as though I work so hard without anything to show for the world.

It’s at those points when the search becomes the focus, looking for that story that will inspire me and lift me from the muck. It’s the one thing that can pick me up from this downer I’ve been in.

I’m drawn to stories of women and their struggles. Not because they struggle although that makes me feel better; rather I’m so very curious about how they overcome and rebound and say “Screw you!”

Be My Own Hero

Queen Victoria and Claire Frasier wanted more, wanted to be heard. Sometimes they knew it would have been easier to be born a man. I look to them with admiration whether they are real or just pretend and realize, we all have our issues. Our downfalls. Our time to shine. I don’t want to be them. I want to be me. To be my own hero and prove to myself that I am a good writer, I can do this for a living. Giving up isn’t an option.

I write my own hero in Annie Pearce. A women I wrote to be real, to be admirable. To rise and fall in a real way. I want readers to connect with her, to understand her. To love her and at times hate her because she can be vulnerable.

She is me and I am her and as I work through my ups and downs through specifically sought after television shows, I also channel that energy into a hero of my own creation and hope that someone who needs her, can find her, just like I’ve done in my own search.

Here’s to us, who search for that extra lift. A hero that inspires our dreams and grows side by side with us as we live our real woman lives.

 

 

 

Confidence after Spinning Tires in the Thick Muck

Confidence after Spinning Tires in the Thick Muck

When the Confidence Rut First Started

A few years ago with a lack of confidence, I joked about dying my hair red and calling myself Lola. My plan was try new things, reinvent myself, pull up and out of the mire, regain my confidence.

I came up with a list of things I wanted to try. It didn’t quite work. I still find myself spinning my wheels. Desperate to figure out how to sell my books, to find a better job, to not work so hard for so little reward.

I Shared the Problem with My Therapist

You see, I send out resumes nearly everyday, I join book groups to make contacts, go to book workshops to learn how to handle the business of writing. I plan my social media. And yet every morning, I dread the drive to work, the long hours doing what I don’t want to do, and the having the knowledge that book two is so much better than book one and not being able to get it out to the masses.

The therapist told me that maybe I needed to approach the problem in a new way.

Climbing out of the Funk

So how to you climb out of the funk and change your life when there are so few options because you have responsibilities and little time.

I started looking for ways to change the strategy, the viewpoint, and the outcome.

I stopped forcing myself to write on week nights when I’m so exhausted from a full day of work. Instead, I work on social media, blogs, and other business and if there’s time I write. My goal, 500 words. Sometimes I get them in, sometimes, I fall asleep on the couch at 8:30 at night. I always write on the weekend.

But now I stop at 9 pm. I cuddle up in bed and shut out the world with a book, an easy read that allows me to meld into a different world and think of nothing else. It leads me to a more peaceful sleep.

I’ve been applying to jobs I otherwise might not have. Making a change in hopes that there’s a freelance gig that’s right for me. Less hours in order to give myself time to do what I really want to do–the thing that actually gives me confidence–Writing.

Most importantly, I decided that I physically feel horrible all the time. Stomach aches, headaches, cramping, bloating, and tight clothes.

Sometimes with all the problems, the kids with issues, law suits, jobs that make me unhappy, the last thing that gets taken care of is myself.

So What Now

I can do this. I’m re-starting the eating and exercise plan that I’ve had a lot of success with in the past. It balances the food groups, it balances exercise, and when I’ve done this in the past, I feel strong and healthy.

I’m looking for new opportunities. Different types of jobs and applying anyway. Just in case. I’m writing because it makes me happy.

I registered for a book workshop and signed up to meet agents. Because maybe in person, I can be heard. It might be good, it might not, but it’s interaction with people in the industry.

I’m building a following, a list. Following others. Sharing. A slow sell, encouraging others to read book two. Maybe finding others who like the same things I do.

It’s not about reinventing myself, becoming someone I’m not. It’s about remembering who I am and where I want to go and never loosing sight on that. To do that, I have to try new things, look at the problem with different eyes and all in all, take care of myself. Give myself a break and live a little.

Day one. I’ve eaten all the good things I’m supposed to eat. Without hunger, without guilt. I finally crafted a blog and worked on social media. I even took a nap.

We always have it within ourselves to pull ourselves up and out. We just have to let go of the fear and just say go.

 

 

 

 

A Year in the Life of the Tree Beside My Window

A Year in the Life of the Tree Beside My Window

Life – Less

I can’t see much outside my window at work. It’s high on the wall, it tilts inwards, leaving me a view of the sky and of the top of the tree just outside my window.

As a dreamer, I take time outs, day-dream of a story idea, fulfilling a wish and often times my attention turns to the tree outside. I watch with great interest, from season to season, that tree.

From the tiny buds that sprout in the spring, hiding the new bird’s nest, to the lush fullness of summer where the birds hide from the mid day heat, to the bright orange contrasting against the bright blue fall sky.

It’s barren now, with only a few dead leaves swaying in the breeze.

Ice collects on the ledge between the glass and the cement window ledge. Snow collects on the glass only to melt by the mid day sun, even as the temperatures plummet so close to zero. I stare all day at the grayness outside my window, dull and lifeless as I long for the coming spring.

Today I saw something different, unexpected, the first sign of the changing seasons. Several cardinals, several lady birds and their mates, red against the gray sky. They’re pecking at the water that collects near the base of the window, heated only by the heater in my office space. They keep at it for many long minutes, preparing for the gathering storm. I watch with interest as they fly to the barren tree and back again, lapping up the water as if it will be their last for some time.

Surviving Life

A simple act of survival, and I stood there and watched until they flew away.

When they were gone and I was alone in the grayness, I turned and walked back to my desk and waited for the gathering storm.

Queen Victoria – The Strong, Real Women

Queen Victoria – The Strong, Real Women

The Ultimate Strong Woman

I watch quirky, I also watch relatable characters, most recently, strong, real women. I’ve started a new show. You may have heard of it, Victoria on Masterpiece. While I’m a sucker for the dresses, the jewelry, the crowns, I’m wildly fascinated by the role of women in each century. While I realize that writers take liberties, I’m guessing there’s some truth to the portrayal of the Queen, and I’m finding it fascinating to see that a woman’s many struggles haven’t changed all that much.

Queen Victoria

Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837 at the tender age of 18.  Almost immediately, she found herself struggling to be heard, to be thought of as the monarch, of a strong leader. It hadn’t helped that she was a petite, delicate flower, considered mildly incapable of doing much more than having children and spending time in the nursery. The life she would most likely have had, had it not been the accident of her birth, to be born as the heir to the throne.

You can hear the frustration in her voice as the young girl fights to be heard, to find her way in a male dominated world, where simply by her sex and stature, she brushed aside as nothing more than a girl.

Our Struggles are Universal

Victoria stumbles along the way, but remains steadfast in her duty, in her desire to make a difference, to rule her subjects with honesty and do what’s right. But she does all this by her own rules, choosing to marry for love, not duty, standing up to those who wish to sway her and push her aside.

Though she’s the ruler of England, a vast kingdom in 1837, she’s still a woman. She suffers postpartum depression, she struggles being heard, she’s jealous, when her husband flirts with a female mathematician. But when Victoria meets the woman face to face, she sees a woman struggling just like her, who is constantly trying to find her footing and prove herself.

The Picking of a Role Model – Real Women

Who knew I’d find a role model in a woman who lived 181 years ago, in a time and place so different from my own. And who knew just how much just being a woman, has not changed. How we still want the same things, and our difficulties are universal. And more than anything, the answer is same. We are the solution to our own situation and only we can make it right or better. We are our own strength and we owe it to each of to be supportive of our choices whether we chose to stay at home and raise our kids or we chose to work outside of our homes.

And just like Victoria, I stand firm in my desire to write, to create, to say something and leave behind a legacy. To help others like myself by sharing my story in hopes I can help someone else find their way.

No matter what, we’re all strong, or delicate flowers, smart and capable and sometimes we stumble.

And Victoria isn’t just the strong female character, it’s not just watching and getting angry by thoughts and ideas I’m not used to, it’s also the dresses, jewels, and crowns. Because hey, there’s still that.

Victoria on Masterpiece

 

 

Living for the Weekend – Living a Satisfying Life

Living for the Weekend – Living a Satisfying Life

Living for Precious Moments in Time

Why are we living for the weekend rather than the living in the present moment? Is the thing we spend most of our time doing, that distasteful to us, that we long to be any where but where we are?

I don’t enjoy living for the weekend. Living for the sweetness of lazing around, taking my time to drink a tea, watch some mindless television, to not rush awake before the sun rises so that I can get it all in before work. Because realistically, I’m still not getting it all in.

It’s time to enjoy the time in between doing what I love to do.

I Was Born to Write

I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, when I was seven years old. I never once wavered from the dream. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to create worlds of my own making, make my own schedule, feel the sense of accomplishment and freedom you get working from home. It is a great dream and during those periods of time when I’ve been at home, in between full-time paying jobs, I felt that freedom, I experienced the sense of accomplishment as I finished 5 book drafts. As the book series worked itself out.

And then I got a job.

Full Time Writing for Cash

It’s boring. It feels like a time suck and I find myself living for those moments in time, in between being at work where I can finally sit down and write. Where I can feel productive and proud of the work I do. Unfortunately I haven’t fully found my audience and the reality of life was such, I needed to go back to work.

My daily struggle, rising before the sun and rushing out the door al the while knowing that I’d rather be at home being creative, letting that side of myself stretch out and explore. I don’t have that opportunity writing procedures.

I sigh. The dream is still the dream, the book, is still being written. Creativity is my escape from the mundane as I explore options for not letting myself get sucked into the living for the weekends. There is so much time wasted, longing to be where we are not.

It’s time to not live like that anymore. I make a vow to myself.

It’s Okay to Not Accomplish Everything

It’s time to let go of the desire to be perfect. It’s time to create priorities. Yeah, something’s need to get done. Dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, seeing friends. Something has to give, a plan needs to be constructive, sleep needs to be had.

When we let go, not hold on too tightly, we can live in the moments in between where we want to be. Life is too short to work through it, to miss the other moments in time. I forced myself to go to yoga tonight, even though I wanted to come home and write before I became to tired to think. Because I know, I needed that hour and 10 minutes to be alone with myself. To recharge and stretch. Something had to give. Tonight that thing I let go of, laundry.

I can wear dirty pants one more day. Can’t I?

 

 

 

Confidence – Shall We Pretend Until We Believe?

Confidence – Shall We Pretend Until We Believe?

The Greatest Confidence Boost

The greatest boost of confidence that I have ever experienced was writing my first book. The greatest loss of confidence started when I tried to sell the book.

Being confident is like riding a roller coaster. There are so many highs and lows, twists and turns, and big-ass drop that turns your stomach as you purse your lips to hold back the vomit.

Trying to sell books is that same roller coaster. There’s tiny bits of good luck and lots of down turns-Much frustration and then the high when the story comes together in a way you did not predict when you first started writing the book.

The Confidence Struggle

I’m not the only one who struggles to remain confident. Life gets in the way, we all have problems, situations that are so overwhelming, all of this can attack our total being.

That’s where I am right now. Honestly, my confidence, at this moment is low, I feel as though I’m the worst writer ever, not only as a fiction writer but as a technical writer. I sometimes feel as though I can’t string words together to form a complete sentence.

I struggle to find something to change the tide of emotion, that one thing to make that upturn. Basically, I am looking for the path that leads me to a place where readers find me and read my books and get enjoyment from the story.

Though there’s been some positive movement, there’s been much disappointment. So much so, I’ve been researching options in which to find that boost, that change, a way out of this perpetual rut I find myself in.

At first I thought I’d, try some self-help books. I’m not great at self-help books. They may inspire for a moment, but I can’t carry it through to a conclusion. They just don’t get me.

Next I’ve opened myself to new experiences. This one is a work in progress. I’ve joined writer’s groups. And as my schedule opens up, I plan on participating and trying to glean something from the experience. I hope this will finally convince me I’m actually a writer. If I keep telling myself that, maybe one day I’ll believe it.

There’s Always Something Positive

As I open to new experiences, I need to remember to acknowledge those moments. Single moments in which I feel confidence. When I feel fierce and indestructible. When I look in the mirror and confidence radiates from my face, in my clothes, in my psyche, there’s no more brushing it off as if it doesn’t matter. It’s time to work toward the greater good. The more I tell myself I’m confident, the more I’ll start to believe it.

Never Give Up, Never Give In

I keep plugging along because I so believe in myself at times, regardless of the underestimation that comes my way. You can’t win, if you don’t play; you can’t succeed, if you don’t try. I can because I do. Join me on the journey, because someday is almost here.

Baseball, Poetry and the Linking of Time

Baseball, Poetry and the Linking of Time

There’s Poetry in Baseball

There’s poetry in baseball. The movement of the ball as it flies off the bat; the slide into a base; the swing of the bat. Hot summer sun beats against your skin from seats in the bleachers, a permanent fixture since 1937. Animated crowds pack themselves inside for the widest view of the field. And if so inclined turn and wave upwards to the scoreboard operator, the third generation in his family to man the board.

Wrigley Field is the past, it is the present, it is the future. They are all linked by fandom, those of us who bleed Cubbie blue. We were raised by parents, who were raised by our grandparents, and we are linked irrevocably by the love of the game, and the history of our team. Collectively we hang on each hit, each ball carried on the wind. It carries our hopes, our dreams in each at-bat.

Each season ended with immortal words, “Maybe Next Year”. We would slink away and lick our wounds, another season lost to time. 108 years of time.

They rewrote the story, and those of us who bleed Cubbie blue, breathed a collective sigh of relief, only after we jumped up and down, let out energetic screams and some of us even cried.

Baseball Links Us

I watched the series with my grandfather, who died in 1987. HIs picture lay on the table beside me;, facing the television. This he would have loved. That team would have sparked in him the delight of a child. How he loved baseball, how he loved the Cubs.

Live in the moment when it comes. Leave for the sporting goods store, 20 minutes after they win and bask with others as we wait to buy the prized “World Championship” gear. It doesn’t matter that it’s midnight. As “Go Cubs Go,” plays from someone’s car, chat up the next jubilant fan and share the stories. “Where were you when the Cubs won?” For a mere moment, there was no division, collectively we were simply Cubs fans.

It was the fourth largest gathering of humans in the history of the world. They snaked along the parade route to the rally. We packed ourselves into the park. It was a sea of blue, thousands of stories jammed together celebrating for themselves and for those who never got to see what we got to see.

At the rally.

LIke nothing before, we rolled from the rally, stretched out along the avenue, steady and proud in gear. A club of millions.

Michigan Avenue Chicago

This Year is Different

We are now experts in rooting for the champions, we’ve been here before. And yet, my stomach roils with each error, I hold my breath with each swing. We are giddy with excitement, because we know, how few and far between this could be.

I’ve passed my affliction to my children; they are now the fourth generation of Cubs fans and they understand the suffering and jubilance of truly being a fan. I cried today when they squeaked out a win. I will always bleed Cubbie blue.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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