Life of an Author Archives | Sheryl Steines

Category Archives for Life of an Author

Next: Where to Go From Here

Next

Next. I feel as though, since I finished The Rise of the Black Market, I need to find the next project. In a way, I do. I had been looking for a writing position before coronavirus stopped everything. But as I discovered with the ups and downs my life has gone through, writing has been my way of working through it.

So I feel stuck at the present moment, as I'm sure most of you do as well. But for me, my block has to do with managing my way out of a badly managed situation. My career. It's full of holes, it's been inconsistent, and now I have to scramble to figure out where to go next.

I've always wanted to be a writer and get paid for what I've written. That hasn't changed. Not selling books has been the hardest thing for me professionally, especially now, knowing I do have some fans and the product is pretty good. I wrote what I liked. At the time I wrote it, I didn't know that I should have researched the market a bit more.

So where do you go when you're stuck? How do you move forward? Well like others, I've been purging. Cleaning out closets and drawers and finishing projects that have been waiting for me for years.

Books

I have an opportunity to do things different this time. While I wrote what I wanted, I realized, the market expects certain things, and maybe this time, I should write a little closer to it.

But there's still that desire to differentiate myself from what's already out there. So having said that, I'm returning to my first love; the mystery. I'm obsessed with Sue Grafton and the ABC mysteries, I'm reading J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) and the In Death series.

What I've noticed, I'm still drawn to strong, female characters, but as I read through the newest series for me, I want to do it a little different. A little less, in your face, a little more vulnerable. A little more a reflection of myself.

Next Steps

In the coming months, I'm putting together something I hope is more in line of what the market likes to read, because realistically, it's really what I like to read as well. I still hope to have a likeable character, who grows and changes and stumbles and succeeds.

I've been lucky and safe and my children are fine and pushing forward with school in the midst of all this madness. And me, I'm taking a hard look at my writing career so that I can move forward, hopefully successfully, hopefully happily.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy spring and wish you all the happiness.

For something to escape from reality, catch up on The Wizard Hall Chronicles, today.

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What are Your Experiences During the Pandemic?

Committed

I decided at the start of 2020, I would commit to learning new things, new experiences whether that entailed new people or places. The plan was to simply be open to whatever might cross my path.

A pandemic, was surely, not on my list.

It's been two and a half weeks since Illinois issued the stay-at-home order. It's a struggle for the for of us to continue with online schooling, working from home and generally not annoying each other.

What I've Been Doing

While we can't enjoy places we love, like the zoo or botanic garden, nor can we travel or gather, I've continued to exercise and will start online yoga classes. I walk and see neighbors (at a 6 foot distance,) that I haven't seen in months. I spend time with my kids just talking.

I continue to write and create, taking on different projects to keep myself engaged. I bake and cook. We finished putting trim on the windows that had been off for years. I'll be staining my bookshelves when the weather warms.

Being limited during the pandemic and forcing four bored people to find something to do, has slowed us down a bit and caused us to be creative, and present with each other.

Having said that, here's some recommendations for reading and television that might make those quiet times a little less boring, or frightening or tedious.

My New Experiences

New Authors I've tried: JD. Robb, Laurence Shames, Neil Gaiman, Molly Fitz. What your new favorite author? Tweet me their name @SherylSteines.

New Television Shows since the stay at home was enforced: Deadwood (Prime), Justified (Hulu), Queens of Mystery (Acorn TV), Hunters (Prime). Send me some new recommendations on Facebook at Sheryl Steines Author.

Movies: Ford vs. Ferrari, Deadwood (the movie), Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears. I'm looking for more recommendations. SherylSAuthor on Instagram.

Re-watch: One of my favorite shows ever, Avatar the last Airbender. I also re-watched Star Trek Beyond, Kingsman The Golden Circle and Supernatural. What are you rewatching while at home?

Stay safe. Try something new. Learn something. And share. Experiences don't have to be big and grand, they just need to be. Looking forward to your new ideas. Hope to hear from you.

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Experience Regardless of How Small

Step Away

I created an experience after my day started rather unlike how I planned it. When I just couldn't look at the computer screen any longer, regardless of still needing an ending to the second book of my new series.

I had run up to my daughter in Kenosha, WI., earlier that day because she was busy and needed some school supplies. I drove an hour and a half, dropped them off and promptly returned home. I was a bit grouchy for having made the trip and getting stuck in traffic and though it was a great day for a car ride, I had things to do.

But when I get home, I found myself unable to stay indoors with the temperature reaching 64 degrees in February.

I decided to go for a walk.

Experience Softly

My neighborhood is quiet, the walk undulates through the subdivision in a languid motion. Up and down, past the pond, through quiet, private streets. While it's an easy walk in the sunshine, I chose instead, to drive to the marsh near my house.

I've never really been there this time of the year, usually it's warm, or hot when I take a stroll. I hadn't really thought about it much, until I got there.

I wasn't dressed for the mud, the snow and the high levels of water. While i had on my gym shoes (a Chicago thing,) I found myself walking through overly saturated sandy paths, thick, icy snow, and sloshy grass.

It was beautiful. While a lot of people had the same thought as me, the trails themselves seemed empty, quiet, serene. And I did something I never do; I left out the ear buds. I walked in silence.

Well not really silence. I listened to the birds, to the families that were on the trail, to my shoes as they crunched against the hard snow, as they stuck in the muddy, sandy trail, to the cars that drove along the roads that border the marsh.

My summer walks can be exhausting with the heat, I look forward to the end of the trail. This time, I never worried about the end, rather, I simply took the time to enjoy the stillness around me. I felt the change in temperature from where the sunlight melted the snow, to the shadows that were left behind trees that blocked out the sun.

I was never too cold or too hot as I walked my usual path, farther from the parking lot as I saw fewer and fewer people.

Live in the Small Moments

I find myself, for the first time in my life, really living in the small moments. Learning to be alone with myself, making time for things that make me happy.

I said this was my year of experience and I've yet to make plans for a big experience. But what I done, it create experience when there was none and learned to revel in the simple; as I enjoy the day, or an hour, or a single minute, living in the present, not in the past or in the future; but just here.

I heard once, that the days are long and the years are short. And as I finish my 51st year, I realize that those long days, broken up in little moments are refreshing, and lovely and are very necessary.

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Writing and Believing and Being Stuck

Writing

Writing has always been my dream and from an early age, I've always thought of myself as one. Even at age 9, I was told, I was pretty good at it. When I started writing my first book, I realized it might not be so.

I always believed in the characters and the story, it took me years before I felt comfortable and not guilty for selling my books. Positive reviews have built me up, while negative reviews made me lose my confidence.

Believing

Comic cons, and talking with future fans always built me up and invigorated me as I kept crafting the series. I always believed in each story, I always believed that each one got better and better. Not just the writing but the plots and the characters. They grew, became complex. I believed I had something.

And then book four – Prophecy, happened. I knew I had something great. It was a rewrite of the book She-Wulf. I worked really hard to rewrite, restructure, and tie the story into the series. I had multiple content edits to ensure the story flowed, that there were no plot holes, that it bridged books 1, 2, and 3 into book 5, the series conclusion. I knew it in my bones. I had it right.

Prophecy

I wasn't expecting what happened. While I sent out a request for ARC readers, I had usually received 50 to 100 responses. For Prophecy I received 10. I was disappointed. I hoped in all the other requests I would have had readers who wanted to continue the story.

I accepted there were only ten, and hoped for the best.

Prophecy currently has nine, 5 star reviews. Some of them made me cry. I was pleased to know that the story worked, that book was entertaining, that someone was pissed at the ending and sad and confused.

All of what I had I put into the story. I felt stressed as I wrote the journey, I cried at the end. The results were what I hoped for.

Stuck in the Writing

I worry the final book, the conclusion to Annie's journey, won't live up to the book four. It terrifies me, and now I'm suffering from a bit of writer's block as I work on my next series.

Writing is always an up and down as you try to write complex, exciting, enjoyable stories, as you try to sell them so you can continue to live your dream.

The process offers me the most confidence I have ever felt in my life, I was meant to spend my days writing. And the process deflates me faster than anything else in my life.

I love writing. No matter how stressful the rest of my life can get, it is and will be the most satisfaction I have ever had and I don't think I can give it up. For now, I'll enjoy the results of Prophecy and feel proud that I did it!

Prophecy – today on Amazon.

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Experiences – Living it One at a Time

A Year of Experiences

I decided this year is my year of gaining experiences and not a year of acquiring more things. It's not so much that I'm going to jump out of an airplane any time soon, it mostly has to do with saying yes and putting myself out there by trying new things. It's about putting away the anxiety and just living.

It's about traveling because that is one of the few things I've always wanted to do. It's about finding a job that gives me confidence and maybe a little satisfaction. It's about not letting the weight of all of the issues wear me down.

While my biggest dream and goal is to be a writer who can support myself with royalties and such, it's not happening any time soon. It's about moving forward regardless of the set backs.

Experiences: 1

I went to Aruba two weeks ago. I never really had a dream to go there, but there it was, an experience thrown in my lap. I had roughly two days. It was quick, it was tiring, a little fun even. I think we saw everything you could see and it was nice to be in the 84 degree weather instead of at home in the 30 degrees.

I like to plan, this wasn't a plan. This was pick yourself up and go. It was pushing aside the anxiety of travel and just enjoying being away from home. Forgetting that while flying standby, things might not go as you hoped. It's traveling international and having to stand in the security line and then U.S. Customs while still in Aruba and then going through security again and not losing your composure, stomping your feet or getting frustrated by the process.

Learning to accept is far less stressful. Saying yes is more enjoyable, even when there are doubts.

Experiences: 2

Yoga. I've been practicing yoga on and off for twenty years. At one point of was consistent, twice a week, and growing stronger. I hurt my back, I had two shoulder surgeries. I was off for two years.

When you come back to an activity like yoga, or lifting weights or running, there is a period of time when your body will ache, you will be tired, you will want to quit.

I didn't quit.

Instead, I dealt with the inabilty to twist a certain way and the muscle aches afterwards. I fought through it and within weeks, I found myself growing stronger and finding my poise and grace when I practice.

Recently I went to a yoga event. The class was hard, but I powered through, i learned a little something from this teacher I never met and I felt good challenging myself to something new.

I take in the lessons of yoga. I learned to take in the teachings. I have a new respect for myself and what my body can do. I'm proud of the strength I've gained, I'm proud I didn't give up.

The Lesson

I'm learning, it only took me 51 years to do so. You have control over how you react to what happens around you. You can choose to not let it bother you. You can choose to have fun, live in the moment, even when the rest of your life feels as though its crashing in around you.

I'm putting myself first. I'm taking care of myself, nourishing myself with good food, and good exercise. I'm taking it one step at a time. That's all I'm asking. Just one step at a time.

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We Always Have a Choice – What Is Yours?

Choices We Might Not Want to Make

What choice to you have when life intervenes? We have choices. In every situation, we can do something, or we can do nothing. We might not always like the choices we have in front of us, but they are uniquely ours to make.

I didn’t choose to suffer from infertility, but I had choices on how I would complete my family. I didn’t expect to give birth to a terminally ill child, but I did and I had several choices to make when it came to her care and how to give her a good quality of life.

When my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, severe anxiety, and OCD, I wasn’t happy to be embarking down this new path, but as a mother, we do what we need to do in order to give our children a better chance at a happy and healthy life. And when my youngest came out as transgender, I felt an overwhelming crush of stress. I almost let it beat me.

Consciously Choosing

I didn’t like the pity party that I found myself in. I made a choice. Living in that party and alienating myself from friends and disconnecting from life was not the right path for me. I wouldn’t let my life beat me up and win.

It takes a lot of resolve and energy to change your thought process, to change your attitude. There are a lot of ups and downs, and when I think that I’m moving upwards, the universe sends me something else. Eleven hours after the new year, I discovered my daughter was suffering from something new. And in an instant, 2020 wasn’t looking like it would be any better than 2019.

So What Choice Did I Make?

I won’t give in. Rather, I’m finding new ways to fill my life with experiences rather than stuff, to not wallow in the sadness and anger and to not allow myself to be weighed down by the overwhelming dark stuff. Things that aren’t so easy, that put me outside of my comfort zone.

I jogged for the first time this week. Maybe a quarter mile, maybe a half, during my walk. I’ve never been a running; I usually give up after a block. But this time, I got tired and stopped and walked for a while and then jogged again. I kept pushing myself. I was tired. Next time, I’ll go farther. If only a step.

It might seem like small stuff, but each experience rounds out a full life. It takes one step at a time. One step at a time to move into the light from the dark, to find peace, love and friendship. Life is static, it moves quickly and if you don’t pay attention it will most definitely pass you by.

My growing list of new experiences:

Belly dancing (totally out of my comfort zone)

Rock climbing (indoors at first)

Soul cycle

Tearto Zin Zani

An American Ninja Warrior gym (accomplish one obstacle and then we’ll see)

Run a 5K

Travel more

Cairo, Illinois (abandoned town)

And the list will continue… What are some of your most memorable experiences and what would you recommend?

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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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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 – 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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