2019 | Sheryl Steines

Archive Yearly Archives: 2019

Resolution – I Still Don’t Make Them

Resolutions

I still don't make New Year's Resolutions. I tend to think that by making a New Year's Resolution every year, implies that the only time of year you can make a change, is at the first of the year, and to the rest of the year, be damned.

While I do realize this is a perfect time to look back at the past year with reflections and contemplation, that act really serve to sadden me. It's another year down, and another year no closer to my dream of being an author or having a better job or whatever the thing is I wish for.

Every Day is a New Day

We're only human and in that, we tend to make mistakes. Most of them we can simply pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and move on. Sometimes we find ourselves stuck in the weeds, spinning our wheels. I've done that several times in the course of my life.

But what I've learned is, every day is a new day and every morning when I wake up, the day is full of possibilities and I have choices; I can either stay in the mire or walk away.

I've had a rather challenging adulthood from infertility, to mismanaging my career, to the inability to sell my books and having children with issues. The weight of it was overwhelming, and I've spent much of the time stuck in my own pity party of muck and mud, spinning my wheels.

It took a normal, average moment in time when I finally decided to stop. It wasn't the first day of the week or of the year, it wasn't a New Year's Resolution, it was just a day in the middle of the week. I was hit with a realization and I stopped, cold turkey.

The break needed to come to save my sanity and while it hasn't been easy to keep my life from overwhelming me and keeping me from feeling sorry for myself, I wake up every day and promise myself that even though the problems will come, I will not allow myself to step back into the muck and weeds.

How You Ask?

Talking to myself differently. Discontinuing certain behaviors that don't serve me well, discussing things in the positive not the negative, no longer saying “Why me?” and most importantly, pushing the negative talk out of my head.

Resolutions

I do make resolutions, but not on New Year's Eve. Every day I remind myself, that when the sun comes up in the morning and I have a chance to make changes from the mistakes the day before. I didn't eat healthy yesterday, I will do better to fuel my body with good food. I didn't sell a book, I will write my blog and tweet more, just to be social and kind.

While I do have the moments where I lie awake at night worrying about something, it happens, I will make sure that everyday I make I remember that I have choices and those choices can fuel my dreams, increase my health and keep me out of the darkness.

Life is about living it, both the good and the bad. It's what's we do with the quality of it that matters, and worrying about what I cannot change, doesn't serve me or my children.

My resolution, every day is to move forward and not spin my wheels. Life is too short to live in one spot. Grow, change and forgive your mistakes. Move on.

May you have a very happy new year and may you find all that you are looking for.

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Mindset – What You Tell Yourself Matters

Mindset

What your mindset is, the mantra you use, the voices in your head that you listen to, matter.

Sometimes I'm grumpy. I like my rigidity, because it stems my anxiety. There are certain activities that I'm not likely to do if they don't fit my hair washing schedule, my normal routines, or I just don't like them. Like biking on vacation.

So we're on a mini weekend away, staying at a friend's vacation house in Sanibel Island, Florida. The weekend is slow paced, we're on island time, not needing to be anywhere at any particular time until it's time to head to the airport.

If we can all live like that.

Our final day it was suggested we ride the bike to the beach, walk the beach for exercise and the sheer experience of smelling the salt air and shelling, because I do like collecting shells.

We do that and I'm ready to head back to the house. Instead, we ride. I don't like biking, it hurts my butt, my legs are tired, I'm hot, I'm getting grabby, we have things to do, and yet, instead of complaining, I agree to ride.

I'm sulking in my head instead of living in the moment, and enjoying the scenery, the beach, the water.

As the voice banters on in my head, I stem it, simply shut it out and the longer we ride, I realize, I'm less inside my head. When the crabby thoughts return, I force myself to change my mindset, to shut them out, because they keep sucking me back to the negative. They complain how much I hate riding and that my back and hips hurt; that we need to get back and get ready to go.

I got out of my head in that moment, concentrating more on riding, because I'm a dork and had difficulty controlling the bike, so much so that I nearly missed the turn and fell off. I chuckled to myself and instead of complaining I got back on.

All in all that morning, we walked two miles along the coastline and collected shells; we rode for four miles around the east side of Sanibel Island. I lived in the moment, not stressing about what was next, not worrying about what we still had to do, or that we were leaving at two for the airport. No anxiety, no stress, I slowed down, I lived my life.

What you tell yourself matters

I often wondered how some people have the ability to look at the positive in the midst of pain. I believed that we were born with that ability and it wasn't something we could control.

I was wrong.

I'm slowly realizing that we can retrain the voices we talk to in our head, we can relearn how to be nice to ourselves, we don't have to be lost in the weeds, we can be positive in the midst of adversity. We don't have to be a victim.

How we change our mindset

It's all about our mindset, how we speak to ourselves, how we approach every experience that crosses our path, how we discover joy.

I will never be an avid cyclist, but I'm pretty sure, I'd get on a bike again and ride through a small town, or the east side of an island to take in the sights. I will for the experience to slow down and live in the moment; hear the sound of wheels on the sidewalk, feel the heat of the sun as I work up a sweat, stop and smell the gladioluses on the side of the road, talk to the traffic cop directing traffic, saying hi to other riders and walkers along the bike path.

As much as I like jumping in a car and roaming the island, you don't get in touch with the world around you, unless you jump right in. It's all in your mindset.

I still don't like riding bikes and I don't expect that I'll be riding many miles soon, but there is something about taking the time and living in the moment that feels really good.

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This Is My Journey and I’m Gonna Own It

Journey

Life is a journey. I'm sure you heard that before. What happens on that journey comes down to three things; doing what we want, reacting to what happens and changing what needs to be changed.

My life's journey, for many years, was about dealing with my children's issues. This included doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, medicine. For years I wrapped myself in this and as a result, my life became one big pity party. I take full responsibility for letting myself get sucked back in, unable to leave the swirl of problems.

I also take responsibility for ending it.

How Am I Doing Since Ending the Pity Party?

Just saying you're done with the party, doesn't end the party. Things don't seemingly get better because you want it to. There will be ups and downs; you will feel as though you're being sucked back in.

I might take the attitude, out of sight, out of mind, but the calls still come. I still have to deal with my kids and their anxieties, their issues, their meds, their insecurities. But what makes it different this time, this time, I won't allow myself to get sucked back into the pity party, to wallow in their situations.

This time I listen, I give them advice, only when asked and I told them very plainly, it's their lives. Make a decision and move on.

It's hard to give up control. It's hard to become mean or tough in a way I never thought I would have to, but for my sanity, for myself to continue on my journey in a healthy way, I need to pass the torch to my children. It is their lives, their decisions, and I'm only here to support them.

I've done good. Rather than keep myself up at night, worrying about them, I've put that to the side, and accepted without question, that this is who my children are. They will find their way, I do tell them that. I also tell them to take it one step at a time. Have a goal and take one footstep in front of the other. Never feel defeated because there are always choices.

Moving On

I'm moving on. I'm only a support system, I am no longer making the decisions. While I still worry about my kids, I'm not letting myself swim in a sea of despair or a whirlpool of worry. They're young, they have time to make choices, to live good lives. The best I can do for them is to be strong, to be a good role model, to show them how to make a plan and ride it until they accomplish a goal.

While I try and support their choices and hopes for the future, I also need them to know, life doesn't always work out the way we want, but we surely won't get anywhere close to where we want to go if we don't try. I want a happier, healthier life, I need to control what I let in. This is my journey and I'm in control.

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Prophecy – Answering the Unknown Questions

Prophecy

When I wrote Prophecy, I knew it would be the re-write of She Wulf, a book I wrote after falling asleep during a documentary about the epic poem, Beowulf.

I loved the idea of going to the past to save the future. The problem this time around was, Prophecy had to do more than She Wulf did. She Wulf could be a stand alone story, an adventure to the past. Unfortunately, as I rewrote the series, book four now needed to be that epic time travel story as well as a bridge between books 1,2, and 3 to book 5.

It is a complex story line.

I always spoke of Annie's dad; his death seemed to weave itself throughout the series in a way I hadn't expected when I first wrote the series. As I moved through book one, two, three, and finally four, I realized there were some questions that finally needed to be answered.

Where is Annie's mom. And that was the most important theme I needed to convey in book four. How do you do that when are writing a stand alone time travel adventure? You write two stories simultaneous and interweave them because in reality, we have more than one thing going on at a time. We don't live our lives in a vacuum.

So there. I give you the beginning of the end of the Wizard Hall Chronicles. I'm so excited for this book. It was the most challenging and aside from the first book being the one I'm the most proud of because it was my first, I'm really the most proud of Prophecy, because it is the story that nearly ended my dream and it is the one that brought it back to life.

Excerpt:

“How much do you know about my dad’s murder?” Annie whispered. Instinctively, he placed a hand on the wall and sent a muffle spell across his small cubicle, enveloping them in privacy.

 “I know Rathbone did it. It’s related to the Fraternitatem and the Chintamani stones. Beyond that, I’m clueless,” Bucky said.

 Annie shook her head. “This needs to stay between you and me. If I’m not around, find Cham. He’s the only person who knows this.” Bucky understood her stern, serious expression and nodded in agreement.  

 She handed Bucky a picture of Dr. Arden Blakely with Emily Pearce. He examined the picture and glanced back at Annie. “Isn’t this that doctor? The assassin? She looks younger, but . . .” 

 “It’s Dr. Arden Blakely,” she said quietly.

  “That’s not why you want me to see this,” Bucky said.

Annie nodded.

Bucky grimaced and reviewed the picture again. This time, he couldn’t ignore the striking similarities between the other woman and Annie. He stared back at Annie. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say the other one is related to you,” he said guardedly. Bucky observed Annie carefully.

Annie cleared her throat to find her voice. “It’s my mom, Emily Pearce.”

 

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To Write Helps Keep the Pity Party Away

I Write what I Like

When I wrote my first book, I wrote what I liked. I was greatly influence by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed; urban fantasy, female lead, real women saving the world on a weekly basis. At that point in time the thought was, write what you like.

What I discovered over the course of the years, not everyone wants to read what I like, and the new thought is, write to market.

A Lifetime of Dreaming

I write what I like, it gives me pleasure. I gain confidence when a story works out well, whether I planned it or not.

This is what I had wanted since I was seven years old, to sit at home and write stories, and earn my living entertaining the masses with my words.

Sometimes it doesn't work out that way.

To Write to Market: Research

So I'm spending my time trying to do two things, write what I like and write it to market. I've been researching what the market really is. What do readers enjoy and clamor to read?

The problem is, I'm not enjoying the books I'm reading. I feel like they're, not as original as they could be. Well yeah, they're written for market.

Congrats to the writers who can make it work. As I sit at this crossroad, I have to make a decision. Do I write to please the masses so that I can stay at home and live my life long dream, or do I write for me and get a job elsewhere to make money?

Where I am Now?

A few weeks ago, I announced that my pity party is over. I came to believe that I was addicted to the pity party, that it was consuming me and I needed to be done. Like any addiction, it doesn't go away just because you say so.

I'm in the middle of a bump in the row. I'm feeling pity for myself again. But I can't stop writing. It's who I am at the core.

So I'm diligently preparing to release book four and get book five ready to publish. I hope that the boxed set of the books will sell better than they do now. It will always be a struggle for me; to write or not to write. To live with passion or not to live with the passion, the thing that makes me uniquely me.

So where do I go from here?

I'm a writer. It's what I do. I'm getting better at it. I don't want to quit. I use these bumps in the road to re-examine where I'm at and where I need to be. I've decided I need a new project. I'm working on my memoirs. My experiences raising three children with very difficult situations. I'm writing short stories, I plan to enter writing contests and submit my work to magazines. I want to freelance.

What I don't want to do is quit the thing that gives me joy, confidence, and passion. Ironically, it's also the thing that makes me angry, jealous and bitter, but I'm trying really hard to focus on the good.

So I'm in a good place. I'm continuing with yoga, I'm cutting back on crackers, cookies and sugar. I'm working out harder than I've been able to in years. It's all about controlling the positive and letting the negative go. It's not easy by any stretch, but I finally switched that thing in my brain that gets me out of the hole and back into the light.

I'm a writer at the core. It's what I know.

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Change – How Am I Doing So Far?

Making the Change

I made a change about three weeks ago, when I decided I was done with my pity party; I had been having it for almost six years.

Making changes was easier than I expected it to be. I'm basing that on my past experiences of worrying and fretting and not sleeping.

It wasn't just a change of view, it was a change of attitude. I decided, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.'

While I love my kids and want the best for them, I decided that I can't worry about whether or not they're making friends, joining groups or getting good grades. They are adults. The most I can do, at this point in their lives, is to be there to support them.

So How's It Going?

Surprisingly well. I've been sleeping better without the constant worry. I've been present in my own life. I've written a short story to accompany my urban fantasy book series, I started writing my memoirs.

Change is never easy because it means you need to go from the familiar to the unknown. That is what scares us.

We all know where we want to go. It just that sometimes we're just too scared to do what we need to do to get there. I hate to say it, but it was familiar living in that pity party and I knew while I lived there, it wasn't a good place to be.

In times like that we need to remember that we are responsible for our own happiness, regardless of the ups and downs. My life is still complicated, I still have serious issues concerning my children, but I also have me and my life and if I can't find my happiness away from all of the craziness, than I will always be sad, angry and upset. I decided I don't want that.

In the short few weeks since giving up the pity party, I have made changes in other areas of my life and decided to put myself first. I'm giving up sugar, I'm committed to eating food that will nourish me, not feed my emotions, and I've started going to yoga again.

All this, because I finally decided I'm worth the time and energy.

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The Pity-Party is Over. It’s my Independence Day!

Why the Pity-Party is Over

I met with some friends last week for dinner. I’ve known these women for 15 or so years. Our kids grew up together, we see each other monthly with or without our children. Twice a year we meet to schedule the next few months. I must admit, I had never felt so disconnected to this group as I did that night.

It was an eye opener for me, to say the least. To say the most, it was clearly a result of actions I’ve taken over the last several years that leads me to this moment.

You see, for the last 21 years, I’ve been on the journey of motherhood, just like my contemporaries. But from my view point, the ride has been akin to a roller coaster ride that doesn’t end.

Now I’m not too naïve to know that we all have issues, are children aren’t perfect, they have anxieties, medical issues, mental stumbling blocks. I’m oftentimes on Facebook, the great motivator, the great divider, the great fake. I know which friends have kids with autism, or Crohn’s disease, or anorexia, and I know with great certainty that their triumphs were hard fought wins.  

I feel that jealousy that comes with other’s successes, because I still feel so mired in issues. Each new problem is shoved on top of the last, and I find myself overwhelmed with the whole of it. I pull away because I’m so pre-occupied with the bad, and I realize there is so much that another can deal with that isn’t their own.

With that comes the disconnect and an abject loneliness and I find myself stuck in the muck, so to speak, struggling to breathe.

It's No One's Fault but My Own

There is no one to blame but myself. I let myself ride this pity-party to the bitter end. To feel sorry for myself because I feel like I’ve received more than my fair share, when all I want is to have a normal day, where I’m not concerned about ADHD, severe anxiety, OCD, transgender issues or doctors. The thought of it has battered me down, left me years of sleepless nights, leaving emotionally exhausted and a shell of myself.

No pity please. I’ve heaped enough on myself. I’ve let the problems run my life. The choices that I’ve made have left me scrambling to find my happy place and enjoy the what the world has to offer.

I'm Done

This blog is my Independence Day. Because after dinner with my friends, I realized, finally, that my pity-party has to end. By not getting myself out there, by not focusing on the good, the world is gray and isolating. If I can’t love myself enough to take care of and put myself first, no one else will want to either.

The problems will still be there, but I’m no longer willing to them rule me, and I’m not longer willing to be their victim.

Being a mom is hard. The greatest gift we can give or children is to love them and to teach them self-care and to enjoy experiences as they come. The best way I can do that, is do it for myself.

 The pity-party is over.

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Prophecy – Gently Based in Reality

Reality

I learned from J.K. Rowling that when you write about your reality, you don't have to do it in an exact way. She wrote about her depression through her dementors, soul sucking creatures that drain you of your life.

What I discovered as I worked my way through my books, that my reality was seeping through the pages, as I placed my doubts, fears and questions squarely on my main character, Anne Elizabeth Pearce.

Annie is smart, hard working, beautiful and as she moves through her cases, some directly involving her and her life, she begins to doubt her abilities, blames herself for the fall of the black market and Princess Amelie's rise to vampire.

While she isn't responsible for these things, she feels she is. It makes her vulnerable and she doubts herself and her abilities.

How does it relate to my reality?

My youngest child went off to college this week for the first time, making me an empty nester. You wonder at that point, did I give my child the best I could, was his life good, does he have good thoughts of home and the experiences I tried to give him?

But that's not all. I also, on a constant basis, wonder if I'm a good writer, wonder if I can hack this life as I strive to move forward to achieve my life long dream.

My writing has become personal. Annie's journey has become my journey. As I work toward the end of The Wizard Hall Chronicles it feels very much like I'm entering a new phase of my life and my writing and I'm looking forward to what happens next.

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Challenges – We’re Not Alone

Challenges. We all have them. It’s not so much the challenge itself, it’s how we react to the challenge and overcome it that’s the key.

I’ve struggled to find a job after college; I worked in a bookstore, I worked at a contract employee in my chosen field to get experience, I filed and mailed stuff for money. Even when I found the job, it still wasn’t what I wanted to do. I made the jobs work for me. I learned, I grew, I started writing policies and procedures. At least I was writing.

I created a career as a writer, I also worked on databases, I worked in compliance, I continued to learn. I finally wrote my first book.

Challenges continued as life moved along. There were infertility struggles; my children have extra ordinarily difficult situations in their lives. One is transgender, the other suffers from OCD and severe anxiety. The only answer for these issues is to take one step and then another. I grow and change, I learn to accept. I write more books.

Writing Through the Challenges

Writing is my respite from the challenges life continues to throw my way. It’s been my dream since I was seven to be a writer, create worlds and entertain others with these stories. While I continue to write, my greatest challenge is to market the books, find readers who enjoy them and hopefully be able to support myself as a writer.

I continue to grow and change. I’m on draft four of book five and I’m winding down my first series. I used my main character, Annie Pearce to mirror the challenges in my life. She struggles, she fails, she takes one step and then another, toward a successful conclusion. I test her, she wins.

If only it were that easy in the real world.

While I still struggle, I keep taking the next steady step. For me there is no stopping, because once I stop writing, or stop parenting, the battle is surely lost. As long as there’s one foot in there, still hanging on then there’s always a chance to succeed.

No one is immune to the downs in life. We all ride the roller coaster. Sometimes, it slows and stops and we get off and move on. Sometimes as we pull in to the end of the ride, the coaster slips and sends you through the twists and turns. When that happens, we simply hold on tightly to absorb the twists and turns.

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The Dream is winding down. Prophecy coming soon.

The Turning Point

It has been a dream to become a writer since I was seven. I've said that many time here. The reason it's so important now, is I'm putting the finishing touches on book four of the Wizard Hall Chronicles called Prophecy. While it'll be out in November 2019, it is the turning point of the series; the work horse. It links The Day of First Sun, Black Market and Wizard War to the final book in the series. It tells a complex story.

I had to get the story right. When I originally started writing the series, I had planned on stand alone books, that told a different story in the wizarding world all centered around Annie Pearce. I wanted a strong female character, a role model for everyone.

The series shaped up to become something far more than I anticipated.

Reality

I wrote The Day of First Sun, a story about the magical death of a high-profile, non-magical princess. I combined my two favorite genres, urban fantasy and the police procedural/detective novel.

For many years I sold the book to readers by stating “It's a little like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and CSI.” It's still a bit true, but the reality of the series changed as I wrote Black Market. A plot point began to develop and I couldn't overlook that both book 1 and book 2 tied back to the death of Annie Pearce's father, Jason Pearce.

I'm not much of a plotter. I tend to write by the seat of my pants, having an idea of what the book will be about and how it will end. I hadn't planned to link the books, but I couldn't deny, there was something there.

Clue emerged in the first three books pointing to the climax, the truth about what happened to Annie's dad. I couldn't stop it from happening and yet, I needed to tell the story in two books.

It used to be called She Wulf

Many years ago I had written a book called She Wulf, a tale loosely based on the story of Beowulf. The book was released and to make a very long story short, it didn't go well. In the end I decided to take She Wulf off of Amazon and work on the next book in the series.  As I've mentioned here before, that too didn't go well and I ended up rewriting The Day of First Sun and re-releasing it.

I followed the natural flow of the series which led to Black Market and Wizard War. In my infinite wisdom I decided it was time to retell She Wulf.  It could no longer be a cute stand alone story, it had to do so much more. I renamed it Prophecy, and pulled out of it Annie's journey to the truth. The truth about the past and the truth about her family as she must make difficult choices in her life that could result in Annie loosing everything.

My personal journey is mirrored in Annie's

As I struggle with various things in my life, a child with anxiety and OCD, a transgender child and the death of my first child, I channeled all of the confusion, hurt, anger, and love into Annie journey. While she and I are on different journey's we are trying to overcome our problems with class and grace and come out on the other side intact.

Prophecy became an act of love from me to myself as a way for Annie to forgive herself for her past mistakes and for me to forgive myself and learn to accept the realities as they are.

Will Annie accept her destiny and save the future or return to the past to save her family?

We all have difficult choices in our lives that deserve careful consideration. Some of us have more difficult choices to make but we must trust ourselves to make the choices that best fit our lives and our families and we must most importantly love ourselves, care for ourselves as we move through life.

I have a dream that I keep front and center because it is what keeps me sane in the middle of the insanity. I can't let go no matter how much stress I carry in the rest of my life. That includes the impossible task of marketing myself and trying to sell my books so that I can stay at home and concentrate on creating more stories.

As Annie struggles, I struggle and together, I can assure you, Annie Pearce and I will make it to the other side.

Catch up on the Wizard Hall Chronicles on Amazon today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fallacy of Normal

Fallacy of Normal

Nothing about my life as a parent has been especially easy or completely normal. Even getting pregnant came with fertility issues, morning sickness, cramping, pre term labor, multiple hospital stays and a carbon monoxide detector going off at 1am.

Once the babies came after my first pregnancy, I really believed I was done with the bad stuff, that I could go on my merry way into the normal sunset. But even that, wasn't meant to be. I gave birth to twins and even that couldn't end on the right side of happiness. Kids aren't born that way. While I had one healthy twin my other was born with a neuromuscular disorder. Her life was hard, with hospitals, multiple medical procedures and a feeding tube. I lived with nurses in the house for 8 months. If there was no nurse on duty, I was it.

My daughter Stephanie Paige died at 11 months old. It was a painful life for a small body, it was a stressful time for the family. We knew the outcome, regardless of what we did, and when she died, we thought, foolishly I might add, that we would soon be ushering in something more normal.

While children don't come with instruction manuals, they also done come without issues. My oldest, twin to Stephanie was diagnosed with ADHD, severe anxiety and OCD. Over the course of her young life, she had Theron's  Disease in her left eye, Gilbert's disease with her liver, scoliosis, torn ligaments in her right wrist. I took her to therapists, psychiatrists, the pediatrician, an orthopedic.

My youngest was happy, athletic, social, busy. While I dealt with my oldest and her issues, I relished in what appeared to be normal, easy. But at 12 she came out as gay and with it came depression, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem. This round came with drugs and therapists. And in the end the announcement that my youngest daughter was a trans male.

It brings on sleepless nights, as I worry about an unkind world and how it will affect my children. No parenting book guides me through these issues.

We all buy into normal; we live for it on Facebook where we put our best foot forward, our pride in our families and children, in our bragging, look what I have. But that's not life, it's certainly not normal. It's a fallacy.

Life is messy and hard and sometimes it sucks beyond the telling of it. My life oftentimes feels like I'm a roller coasters as I'm up and down, upside right, and just when I see the end of the tunnel, when the ride will stop, it drags me along and pulls me upwards to the next, newest, problem, more complicated than the last.

I move forward in a fog, still hopeful that I will see the light at the end of the darkest tunnel. Right now, all I see is more dark. To keep sane, I write, and today I start draft 6 of my fourth book in The Wizard Hall Chronicles called Prophecy. It's where I can feel normal because I can write about something “normal.”

When we move past the fact that nothing in life is normal and will never be, we can strive for acceptance, act with compassion, and live as humans without labels. It's far better to live for happiness than normal. Only one is achievable.

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Prophecy – Excerpt Part 2

She hid the letter in her thick sock and through the evening, when she moved her leg, the paper’s edge would scratch her leg. Annie hadn’t shared what she discovered with Cham yet, there were still too many questions. In her silence, he knew something was bothering her; it made him overly attentive, and patient as he held up the conversation, and in that, she felt guilty and anxious. All Annie wanted to do was pull out the folder and dig into its secrets.

Even her exhaustion couldn’t contain her thoughts and let her sleep. She sat on the window seat beside the bed and watched the moon travel across the sky. It didn’t calm her or help her quiet the thoughts; instead she broke down and snuck through the dark house retrieving the folder from her locked cabinet. She held her breath; it burned in her lungs as she opened the folder. Well organized, the folder was broken into sections, separated by a sheet of colored construction paper. Each section contained a different aspect of the case; a stack of photos in one section, case notes in another. She slowly let out the air from her lungs and took a deep breath as she peered into one more section. Stapled to the folder was a plastic bag containing a small cassette tape.

What the hell?

She forced herself to breathe, in and out, in and out as she unclipped the binder clip that held a large stack of photos together. Her jaw dropped violently, her heart hammered; the pictures slipped to the table.

“No. No. No. That…” her voice cracked.

“Annie what’s wrong?” she had been so lost in the first picture, she hadn’t heard Cham entered the kitchen.

“It can’t be,” she murmured.

“Annie?” she hadn’t acknowledged him; he sat beside her and grabbed the first picture. His jaw went slack. “This is… ”

What did Annie find in her father's last case file? Read the Wizard Hall Chronicles on Amazon today.

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Prophecy – The next Wizard Hall Chronicles story coming this fall! Part 1

One week after Annie returned home from Paris…

Since returning from France, Annie couldn’t help but think if Sturtagaard hadn’t let her know that Amelie was a vampire, she would have spent the week deliriously recovering from her recent injuries, watching television, baking, or enjoying some other mindless activity rather than chasing and killing the vampire. She shuddered at the thought.
She had little time in France to dwell on the loss of the black market or of its connection to her father’s eight-year-old murder investigation. But in the end, the journey across Europe left her exhausted. She moved the heating pad to a new location and snuggled in to the corner of her sectional sofa, wrapping herself in a thick, warm blanket. It didn’t take long for sleep to overtake her; leaving her blissfully unaware for the entire afternoon.

When she woke, she was enveloped in Cham’s arms as he himself slept soundly. Wide awake, Annie grimaced.

Of course, and I’m not anymore.

Annie slid out of his embrace, pulled the blanket to his chin and left him sleeping in the corner. The house was dark, she switched on the kitchen light blinding her momentarily. When she gained her bearings she was immediately drawn to the dusty box that had been sitting on her kitchen table since before she left for France. After searching her house and garage, she finally found the box in the crawl space in the basement, where her father hid it eight years prior. But the newspaper from Sturtagaard, letting her know Princess Amelie was still alive and living as a vampire, put the box on hold; and though Cham was curious, he left the box alone. Now feeling better and rested, her curiosity was overwhelming.

Maybe it’s nothing.

Annie was fairly certain it would be his missing case file for the case he was investigating when he died. She sighed, glanced at a sleeping Cham; his chest rose and fell peacefully.

She lifted the lid and peered inside where she found a case file, and pulled it from the box. His handwriting was slanted and square, scrawled across the spaces for Guard Name, case name and number. She could still feel the grooves of the ink as he pressed the pen into the folder. Her stomach roiled with relief and uncertainty.

Is this still important?

With a tentative sigh, Annie opened the folder that had been partitioned into several sections; the first item she saw was a note addressed to her in the same familiar writing.

“What the hell?” she asked no one as she unclipped a note.

My dearest Annie,
If you are reading this, I am dead. And as I write this, that realization hits me hard with the things I will miss or have already missed. For that, my angel, I am so very sorry.
But sometimes as a wizard guard, there are cases so challenging that you are forced to do things that you otherwise would not do. Sometimes the rules can no longer apply. There is too much at stake to risk our way of life and the lives of our family.
I have to make a choice. I have to choose being with you and Samantha for as long as I can, or I can save the world from ourselves. It’s a choice that I deeply regret that I have to make. Sometimes our choices lead us to this very place and time.
I came across Wolfgange Rathbone in the course of this case. The Chintamani Stones that once belonged to King Solomon have been stolen and are sold in the Black Market. They are a danger to our people, and to the nonmagicals that we share this world with.
So sorry my love, but they asked me to stop. They asked me to hand over the stones that I was able to retrieve. They belonged to the Wizard Guard, to the Wizard Council but I did as they requested because they threatened my child. They threatened you, Annie.
My dear, sweet Annie. It wasn’t the first time that your very existence has been threatened. I regret that I will not physically be there for you at any time to protect you. But there is a reason why I so diligently trained you, my dear. Because there will be a time in your future when you need to know what to do, how to keep yourself alive. I gave you all that I could in the short time that I had with you.
I promise you, Annie, that I gave them back all of the stones I had in my possession. But when you deal with secret societies such as the Fraternitatem of Solomon, which hide themselves away and don’t participate in the world as it is, you find that you can’t trust them. They are paranoid, distrustful, and have many secrets I wish I could have shared with you.
They had Rathbone in their employ, and it’s him I fear the most. Not because I can’t defend myself against his weaknesses, but because I have you in my head, and your safety blinds me. I will die before I let them get to you. Because there is a prophecy my love. You are at the center, and I will do whatever I can in life and death to ensure that the prophecy doesn’t come true.
This might seem to be the ramblings of a man who knows his death is eminent, but I assure you this is real. If I am dead, it was at the hands of Rathbone on the orders of the Fraternitatem of Solomon. They will still be after the stones that I promise I no longer have.
Please believe me that I will do everything in my power to keep myself safe, to keep my friends and my children away from this difficult case. I do this for all of you because it was I who dug myself into this mess.
You deserved so much better than what I gave you. I wish that I could have raised you more like I did Samantha, but I couldn’t. I had to protect you.
Rathbone knows this prophecy, and he is using it against me to get what he wants. Be wary of him.
I didn’t die in vain. I died to protect you and the powers you will someday have.
You are so very special, my love, so strong, so beautiful. I wish you happiness, security, and safety. May you remember all that I taught you. Be safe, my darling. I love you always.
Dad

Shaking, Annie placed the folder inside her blood-lock cabinet and slammed the door shut. As she reread the letter from her father, she slid herself to the floor, lowered her head, and cried. Read The Wizard Hall Chronicles on Amazon.com.

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How We Overcome – Whe Art Imitates Life

Art Imitating Life

My writing reflects events in my life; cross roads, decisions, my horrible feelings of coming disasters. I've been incorporating all of these in Annie Pearce's journey. She's on a big journey this time. Full of adventure she didn't ask for, questioning her purpose, and feeling as though she's failing miserably. Much like I feel like right now.

It's the end of the school year, a time when decisions need to be made. I have an 18-year-old embarking on college next year and a 21-year-old who's struggling to finalize her major and what that means for her future. I have a writing career that feels as though it's spinning in one place and am struggling to fix the issue.

I always remembered J.K. Rowling discussing her depression and how she wrote about it through the use of dementors. It stuck with me. While I'm not creating a new demon to characterize a mental health issue, I am using the story and Annie's reaction to the events in the plot to work through my own life's situation.

Has it helped? I'm not so sure.

Overcoming

My life's issues might be a little unusual, but I am certainly not the only one who has events that weigh me down, that make me rethink my life's choices that make me sad and want to throw things. I'm dealing with that now.

It's not what we overcome but how we overcome that's important. Do we hide our heads in the sand or do we stand strong, carry on, make choices that get us to where we want to go.

I'm trying to overcome, I'm just not sure how much more I can do.

Sharing

So what do you do when all seems lost, or you feel you lack control of the situation, or there's not enough time to do what you need to do?

We all struggle and rather than beat ourselves up about it, or troll others and shame them, we need to lift each other up. Read and author and review, comment on a post or like a picture. Share how you overcome and offer support.

I'm not alone and I know that I'm not. I have a friend who's going through something big too. All I can do is ask how she is and she asks that of me.

We can be compassionate, understanding and help each other. And most importantly, be kind to yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Marketing Plan and Still Flying by the Seat of My Pants

The Marketing Plan

I had every intention of using my marketing plan this year. I had the plan down to weeks. I had a theme for each month, I had topics determined and I knew what I'd be writing in each blog for the year. Really, I did.

But stuff happens and it's the last day of March and I didn't follow any of it. Nothing. No themes, no blogs, and my advertising went out the window.

And I just filled out my expenses for last year and I'm having a minor heart attack.

What Really Happened

You see, I've never really been good at making a plan and executing it the way I planned. It's actually how I write books. I've mentioned it here several times; I'm a pantser not a plotter, I write by the seat of my pants rather than plot out my books. I tried, really I did, but planning has a way of binding me, I lose creativity, my freedom. And in that it takes me longer to write a book. There are down sides you see.

My marketing seems to work the same way. Things happen, I read something on line and decide I should write about it, or advertise that way, or rewrite my descriptions, change my keywords. You get the idea.

I do worry as I pulled together all of my expenses for 2018 that I really need to keep with a plan or I need to quit this writing thing all together and do something else. Spending way more than I should have makes you rethink a lot of stuff.

And that's the point of the marketing plan.

But it still didn't work.

Changing the Future

What I really learned is this, I personally love my books, the characters I've lived with for a decade. But that doesn't mean the stories are right for the market. I missed an essential piece of this, what would people like to read.

I've also learned to cut back on the things that do me no good. The stuff that makes other people rich on my writing career.

No more buying other people's books. There's plenty of free advice out there if you know where to look.

The Plan

I'm just going to write what I love, and slowly, organically pass it around. I'm going back to comic cons where I know there are fans. I'm starting to connect with people on line, who like the same things I do. Just simple statements, simply retweeting, liking , sharing. Nothing fancy.

It's the problem of the writer's journey. How do we find the audience who will like what we write. I can't quit, it's something that's been a part of me for so long. All I can do, is make a plan and this time stick to it.

 

 

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