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Remember the Inspiration that is Nancy Drew

Remember the Inspiration that is Nancy Drew

Inspiration: Today

Inspiration started with a book, which led to a love of mystery. But I wanted more than just to read the words, I wanted to write them.

After spending seven years in the mire that is marketing, writing, editing and parenting, I found myself stuck in the same place and it hit me, that something needed to change. Finding inspiration, I started over, with a new website, book series name, Facebook page name and Twitter handle.

Phew…And now I’m finally ready to release book two, with fear and awe.

While I reflect on the early days, back to a time when I had no idea what would become of my books or where the journey would take me, I find that inspiration and I share with you bits and pieces of that early blog. It sounds almost the same.

Inspiration: October 2010

I was a reader; everything from Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, and Little Women. It inspired me to write my first book at seven years old. At nine, I read Beverly Clearly and Judy Blume, hiding “Forever” under my pillow at night. I graduated to Stephen King and slept with a nightlight; words had that effect. I felt something for these characters, I was engrossed in a good story. I loved to tap into the imagination. Inspiration; I wanted to be a writer.

Though life sidetracked me with a job credit card services, my time as an interior decorator. I had kids and I forgot what I wanted to be when I grew up. Until Harry Potter reminded me.

It’s really not the end of the journey, now that The Day of First Sun eBook is published. I think I’m now just beginning. Book two Black Market is well on its way, and I’m looking forward to all the possibilities. Thanks to everyone for their messages, for their support and questions and if you purchased the book, thank you, thank you, thank you!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is The Day of First Sun

What is The Day of First Sun

Wheat field in late afternoon rays of the setting sun over Royalty Free Stock Photos

The thing about writing urban fantasy stories, you get to make shit up. I like to base stories on traditional folk tales, stories that are familiar. I enjoy resonating with our collective past. Really, some of these tales are just too fascinating to pass up.

However, sometimes there just isn’t an appropriate existing story that fits well with my plot and that’s when I make shit up. Unfortunately or fortunately for me depending on how you look at it, I’m a pantser, meaning I write my stories with a rough idea of what the story is about, sometimes I have the beginning and the ending, oftentimes they don’t present themselves until a later point in time. What’s great about that is, I get surprised much like my readers would be surprised by plot twists. The downside, I come up with the idea and have to back track, research while in the grips of a great writing session. And that’s where making up stuff comes in really handy. If you think it’s a bad way to write, read Stephen King. He’s one of us too.

I find that with enough careful editing, my stories tend to fall in to place better than if I could actually plot them out. I’ve tried, I just can’t stick to the plan and for those of you who could, you’re known as a plotter, much like JK Rowling. The point though that I’m trying to make is, regardless of your personal style, we get to make stuff up to fit our story the best way we can, whether it’s beforehand or while writing. And in that process, the magical holiday of The Day of First Sun was born.

Excerpt from The Day of First Sun

Magic came to the world with the birth of the first magical child in a mystical clearing of land around 3500 BCE. To this day, that clearing was considered holy land for all magicals born thereafter, both good and evil. Over a millennium later, a battle was fought on the sacred land with devastating consequences.

A portal between Earth and other realms opened, giving vampires, werewolves, and other demons access to Earth. Myths told of a time when the sun did not come out and the beasts freely roamed the planet.

Centuries later, a brave witch fought a second battle on the sacred land, closing the portal forever. The battle, which took place on the first of September, became known as the Day of First Sun. Once the threshold closed, the sun emerged again, but it was too late. The Earth was overrun with supernatural evil.

 

Curious how the Day of First Sun affects the modern-day witch? Join the celebration. To order The Day of First Sun

The Day of First Sun - Copy to Use

 

Hair Says What Now??? And the Stupid Who Can’t Shut Up About It

Hair Says What Now??? And the Stupid Who Can’t Shut Up About It

hairPerusing the internet the other day I found a blog from a mother whose son chose to wear his hair long. He like it long and was owning the look. Now long hair on boys and men really isn’t such a big deal now a days, but for this mom, it was. It wasn’t because she wanted her son to have short hair and be something he wasn’t but she didn’t like the reaction of those around him, to his long hair. She complained that he was constantly called she or her and she was tired of strangers telling mom that she had three beautiful daughters. Yes she had two beautiful daughters and one handsome son.

I know exactly what that mom was going through. I have a beautiful, smart, athletic and funny daughter who from the very beginning was nothing but a tom boy and has spent most of her 14 years, trying to figure out who she is. Until she was five she wore clothes from the boy’s section. At 3 she wanted her hair short like a boy. I was hesitant because she dressed like a boy and I didn’t want confusion for her or others. We made a compromise of sorts and the hairdresser did a great job giving her a cut that was short but kept her looking like a girl. She was thrilled. But eventually kids change their minds and she began growing out the once adorable cut. Still wearing boy clothes as her hair grew out, she oftentimes would be called he, him or my son. It would anger me and as she got older it bothered her.

She knows she’s a girl, but she’s not like the other girls. She doesn’t like pink or princesses. But she loved the Twilight books and she loves to hunt, wear perfume and makeup. If my daughter could, she’d live in basketball shorts but on that rare occasion that she has to dress up she doesn’t stop and slacks and a blouse. She goes all out strapless party dress with converse gym shoes. My daughter is just who she is but she hasn’t found her place in society or even in her circle of friends.

Who she is, is a unique kid who knows what she likes but surrounded by crazy, stupid, hormonal teenagers, she gets picked on and bullied, something I wasn’t completely aware of until I let her get a short hair cut. I convinced her to not go crazy and get that short spiked do’ but a very cute Anne Hathaway at the Oscars hair style. My daughter was adorable, one of great faces for short hair. I loved it, she loved it and felt very comfortable in her own skin. But her boyfriend at the time, granted they were 11, broke up with her, she was called a lesbian and teased about an awful hair cut.

My heart breaks for my daughter who so desperately wants to fit in but has her own style that makes her not quite fit in. I gave her a choice. You take responsibility for your look and ignore the stupid around you or you find a way to fit in that makes you comfortable and allows you to be you. She chose the latter because she’s not quite confident enough to own her look yet. I’ve worked with her on crafting a style that allows her to fit in and yet honor her style. Ripped blue jeans, rock and roll t-shirts from the girls section because their cut closer to the body and teal converse shoes, allow her to be her and yet, be a girl too. I’m willing to let her experiment with her style, her hair, her make up but not her hair length.  Because after all she went through and after growing her hair out she now wants it short again. I feel bad but I told her no. Not because I don’t want her to be herself but because I’m worried about the stupid that surrounds her.

Hair is so much of who we are, it’s the first thing people notice about us and they can perceive so much about who we are whether its correct or not. I promised my daughter that she could cut off her once blonde hair and cut it short but only when those around her are mature enough to not open their mouths. But then again, my daughter is 14 and has changed her mind again, she wants long extensions.

We can only do our best with our children as we navigate the ups and downs of raising them. I hope that someday my daughter will have a better sense of herself and trust that those around her will like her for who she is and not what she wears or by the length of her hair.

 

 

The Monster Is Me

The Monster Is Me

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I’m my own worst enemy, my own monster. At seven years old I decided I would be a writer when I grew up, I didn’t know about confidence or hard work or that someday I’d have two children that I would be responsible for. Unaware that as I got older, my problems would be bigger and harder I didn’t know that we don’t always get what we want.

I had two plans; Plan A and Plan B. Plan A was to be just like Stephen King and write for a living. But no one told me that to do that, I should just write. I attempted to start books, but I always fell flat after Chapter 1. Plan B was to work as a writer at a company, any company that needed a writer. That way I was still doing what I wanted and getting paid for it. I did that for a while and then the kids came.

Thinking I always roll with the changes, I got caught up in that life. Running the kids from school to activities to friends. I lived through infertility, a bad pregnancy, the death of a child and eventually a career change. But when my lost decade was over, I woke up and realized it wasn’t me. With the lack of confidence to truly be an interior designer and make the jump to my own business, I floated around a mother to older children and a desire to start working again. Feeling a complete and utter failure, heavier than I had ever been and not accomplishing anything in my life, I attended my twentieth class reunion. To make my low self esteem even lower, I met another writer (she wrote non-fiction) and I found myself jealous and angry at myself for allowing my dreams to die and for the first time in ten years, I realized what I was missing.

It was then that I wrote my first book. It wasn’t that good, I hadn’t any idea of publishing or selling it but it was finished. And in the four years since I first self published that book, I’ve learned a lot about the whole indie author lifestyle. I wish I knew then what I know now, but rather than regret or dwell on it, I had to move forward.

I don’t sell many books. I haven’t been pushing them hard because I’ve rewritten the first book and restructured the series. It’s hard for me to hear about everyone else’s success. I’m on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I fight back by improving my social media, I’m trying hard to put together a fun and supportive blog. But it’s still there, my worst enemy, my monster, myself. Everyday I work to convince myself I’m an author. It’s not always easy and I have to work really hard to shut down that voice that tells me I’m a failure. It hangs over me my like a black mist, enveloping me and choking me. And yet, here I am, writing my blog, planning for the re-release of book one and the first release of the new book two. I can’t give up because that would me the self doubt and the fear will win.

I’m not sure who I’m doing this for anymore. Sometimes I think I’m doing it for my girls, so they have something to be proud of me for and sometimes I think I’m doing this for me because a seven year old still resides inside of me and she really wants this badly. But mostly I do this for me because I really, really enjoy what I do. I’m hoping someday that I find the audience that can enjoy what I do as well.

I kill my demon with a pen not a sword and someday, I hope to win.

 

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. I have memories of both sides of my family coming to our house. I always have a sense of warmth. Even as I remember fighting my dad and brother for crispy turkey skin or making stuffing in my pajamas. I have to admit, I don’t enjoy the holiday as much now that I’m an adult. It’s a lot of work and it’s exhausting. But I do hope that when I host it at my house, my children will take away their own special memories of Thanksgiving to pass on to their own children.

I’ve seen people this year expressing gratitude on Facebook. I didn’t participate because some of my things I’m grateful for might not seem as normal as others. But we’re all different and we all have different experiences that make us happy and thankful.

I’m always grateful for my children. They are amazing kids, fairly well-behaved, good students and constant reminders that I should be present in my life, take a little time to stop and enjoy and spent some quality time with them. Sometimes it’s not always easy, sometimes I just have to turn off the computer. Annie and Cham will just have to wait.

I’m thankful for the people in my life. Some you get stuck with, some you let in because you like them. It’s not always easy but they and the experiences you have with them make you who you are whether you like it or not.

I’m thankful for two amazing editors, Kira and Ashley. Not because they edited my books, but because they offered me a level of support beyond what was required and it was that support which kept me writing. For whatever reason they chose to give more of themselves and for that I will always be grateful and thankful.

I may never meet the next in my list but they influenced me in ways that truly shaped me as a writer. I’m thankful all of the writers of Nancy Drew who wrote under the name Carolyn Keene. It was my first time reading mysteries. I loved them and have ever since. To Judy Blume I’m thankful for the lesson in writing about characters you care for. I might not always hit the mark, but it’s always in the back of my head as I try to draw a complete picture of who they are. To Stephen King, I’m thankful for the lesson in imagination, and thinking outside the box. I’m writing fantasy, anything can go, so let it flow. And lastly I’m thankful to JK Rowling for simply writing books that made me happy, but most importantly, reminded me that I wanted to be a writer. Without that little push, I might not have written my own books.

Lastly, I’m thankful for being me. For learning something from all of my setbacks and realizing that with a little belief in myself I might be able to get somewhere good.

It’s always nice around this time to remember what we’re thankful for. I can add so many other things and people and expand beyond my books or career but for now I’ll leave the list where it is. It’s a fluid and ever-changing thing as life moves about.

So what are you thankful for? Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

On Writing – Stephen King

On Writing – Stephen King

I write in the supernatural. I read in the supernatural, horror, mystery, and thrillers. Preferring to read for the share entertainment of the stories and the characters, I enjoy the emotion, fear, and intensity I feel when I read such books by Stephen King or Agatha Christie or James Patterson. The good thing is, I can feel these emotions in the safety of my own home. It works out well for me, my sanity and my safety.

I first wanted to be a writer when I read Nancy Drew, I and was pulled in and hooked after reading Stephen King. I have no recollection as to the first book I read by him, and based on my age can only assume it was The Shining, Carrie or Salem’s Lot, but that’s not what’s important. All that’s important is remembering that feeling of reading something that made me angry, frightened, terrified or entertained. And as I worked my way through the Stephen King library, every new book sustained my desire to be a writer, to play a creator, discovering new worlds rich in imagination that make you experience and feel something.

When he came out with his autobiography of sorts, On Writing, I was blown away. For anyone who wants to be a writer, or is a writer, it’s inspirational, funny, honest and a little informative if you’re the type of writer who laps up constructive information, to learn anything you can about the craft.

Connecting with the book was easy and forced my to think about how I write my stories. How do I develop them and the characters? Am I a plotter or a pantser? As it turns out, Stephen King admits he’s a pantser making me realize that I’m not alone and I’m not wrong in my approach. Both of us start with a basic idea, maybe do a little research and then begin writing without a true sense of where the book will take us. He approaches it as an archeological dig, starting with the first hint of an artifact and continues to dig deeper, until the entire item reveals itself to him, just as his books do. He allows the story reveal itself to him rather than him dictating the story.

That’s exactly how I write my story. I start with a brief paragraph of what I think the story will be, do a little research and then set off to write the story. I let the story reveal itself to me, not as if it’s an artificial but rather as if I’m psychic and the story just reveals itself. I experience the story as a reader would not as the writer, full of the surprised, tension and happiness or sadness depending on the storyline.

It’s an amazing way to write a book, to feel the emotion that the reader might feel, experiencing the twists and turns, much like I hope you will too. That makes me a pantser, a writer who writes by the seat of their pants. It’s a little chaotic, but a thrilling ride. If it’s good enough for Stephen King, it’s most definitely good enough for me.

 

The Walking Dead – Family Bonding

The Walking Dead – Family Bonding

One of the most popular shows on television is The Walking Dead. If you haven’t heard of it – you know the joke, insert here – you’ve been living under a rock. Based on the graphic novel by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead is a journey into a life as it could be should the zombie apocalypse happen. Well, couldn’t it, really?

Why do we love our monsters so? We have seen the re-emergence of the vampire and the wizard, finding ourselves enthralled with the zombie. What is it about the end of the world that has our imaginations running, our hearts pounding cheering for more? Is it the idea that a wild brand of justice works, that the bad guys are punished and the good guys win, that there is a fine line between the two? Or maybe we all expect that Stephen King was right when he wrote The Stand and a super virus is on its way.

It’s simpler to solve the world’s problems in the vacuum of television, specifically on a show based in fantasy and horror, rather than one seeped in reality. A world so shocking, that if we can truly suspend our disbelief, we can imagine the possibilities and resolve all the evils and dare I say, be led by hope.

Quickly, the world of a post apocalyptic zombie virus, which destroyed most of the world, we, my kids and my husband and I, sat for the first time and watched The Walking Dead. My daughter and I started watching over spring break a spur of the moment we needed something do decision. It just so happened to be the week of The Walking Dead marathon, conveniently allowing us to catch up on all three seasons. Staying up till three am during one of the nightly marathon’s might not have been the most wise decision, it was however, spring break, so that made it okay. My daughter became hooked; I soon followed, growing to care for the characters and their struggle in our world that no longer existed.
We watched most of three seasons in five days, reaching its fevered pitched on our last day of break. After racing to finish projects and homework we found ourselves in ridiculous glee, the last seven episodes before the season finale. I’m not kidding; this was family bonding at its finest. We sat anxiously waiting for Rick to “get” the governor and save the prison. We sat ill after another character lost their life, we watched as the old world fell farther and farther into the past as characters adapted and survived in the new world. We watched with rapt attention, shocked and amused for the pure fun of it.

Rather than watching shows that are a reflection of ourselves in a world we’re familiar with, we watched a world turned upside down and what we thought we knew about society, manners and the everyday normal taken for granted, no longer existed. Sometimes you need to see things in such a way to either make you grateful for your place or envious because you wish you were elsewhere.

It makes me want to write about zombies.

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