My Writing Experience Archives | Sheryl Steines

Category Archives for My Writing Experience

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 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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Confidence – Take Your Inspiration Where You Can Get It

Confidence and the Childhood Role Models

I was watching a documentary this weekend on the Eighties – you know, big hair, no cell phones. It was my childhood in review as they discussed the women on television story. I watched Murphy Brown, Designing Women, Cagney and Lacey, and while I was in high school, I wasn't quite self-aware and didn't understand how groundbreaking it was and what that could mean for me and my confidence.

Early Disconnects and Lack of Self Confidence

Sometimes looking back on my early days, I feel disassociated with my life as though I wasn't actively participating in it. While I had a dream for myself and my future, I never connected an action to that dream. I didn't really think about the process of writing and what that would mean.

So back to my shows about strong, hard-working women who fought for the right to be treated equally in whatever job they took on. I could have used those ideas as a guide on how to manage my own career but a lack of confidence, had me taking one path rather than working on the path I really wanted. I spent my time working on Plan B, the plan to become a writer for some large company as I pursued my real passion. The problem is, I never really worked on my real passion, to become an author, spending my day writing books or magazine articles. There was too much fear in that unknown.

Today's Confidence

I find myself now, searching for the imaginary role models in Lorelei Gilmore, who finally followed her passion and opened her own inn rather than working in someone else's. I love old episodes of Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the women are strong and real as they work through their daily problems AND save the world.

When there's nothing on television or movies to use as a kick in the ass, I think of women like Amelia Earhart, or Kathryn Johnson whose mathematical calculations sent men to the moon, who followed their passions in their chosen field, fighting an uphill battle based on their sex and/or race.

The Answer

It's not lost on me that what held me back from achieving my dreams wasn't necessarily my lack of opportunity it was a lack of confidence in myself. It's not an easy to fix to all of a sudden find the confidence to achieve your dreams. What I've learned in my 50 years is this, you don't achieve your goals by hoping and thinking it will happen. There is no guarantee that you'll accomplish your goals but you most certainly will not if you don't try.

The answer for me was to take my jealously and work harder, try different things as I try to finish my next book and sell the three others on Amazon.com.

Even if I have to fake the confidence for the time being, I must take the first step and the next step and continue, one at a time if I must. It keeps me moving forward rather than keeping me stagnant, in one place. And yes, I still watch the old shows, and the new gathering inspiration. It's like a recharge and reminds me that we all have similar struggles and if we can share the stories, we can all benefit.

It's something I remember especially on #InternationalWomensDay as I try to be my own hero, an active participant in my own life. It's sometimes a struggle, but totally worth the effort.

 

 

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Write what you know – It’s all in book 5.

Write what you know.

I'm a woman, I write what I know. The struggle between holding down a job and caring for a family. The struggle between living my life and chasing after a lifelong dream.

Honestly I believe we can't have it all, at least not all in a neat little package where everything works. Usually something has to give: friendships, hobbies, travel.

Chasing the dream.

I struggle with the dream. The writing of the book, marketing it, trying to do it without a full-time job. And I'm finding myself at the end of this series, putting everything that I have in me, into the book.

When I read Harry Potter, I remember J.K. Rowling explaining what the dementors meant to her. She said they were a representation of her depression. I never forgot that.

My life in literature.

The nearer I got to the end of my fifth book in The Wizard Hall Chronicles, the more upset I was finding myself. I've been living with the characters in my head for 10 years, crafting their lives, creating their journey on the pages of the books. I decided it would be the end of the series and it left me sad. But it also became more than an end of one journey. It was as if Annie was taking on my emotions, my struggles, in a way she never had before.

Annie's struggling with changes in her life, a trip to the past and newly acquired information that smacks her hard with the truth about her life. Essentially, she's experiencing my struggles, my emotional upheaval as I witness my own changes. My kids are nearly grown, I'm debating whether or not I should stop writing and just live my life.

It's my own fears, my own lack of confidence that I'm writing into the pages of Annie's story. While I'm not writing these things in the demons she meets, she essentially is me, and she is essentially experiencing what I'm experiencing.

Write.

February has in effect been a difficult month of selling books, of writing the last book of the series, of deciding whether or not this is all worth it. But in reality, I can't give this up. It is so much of what defines me, who I am and what I do. While I get frustrated reading best sellers that are poorly written, or discover what works for some isn't working for me, I'm still finding myself obsessively working to finish Annie's story, to the completion of her journey. It is what I have been working toward my whole life, writing, a book, a story, with meaning, something relatable to others.

I had a fan send me a word of encouragement, telling me not to give up because the story of Annie resonates with people. Maybe not a lot of people now, but someday maybe. She's relatable because she's me, and I'm writing what I know. And what I know is the only way to achieve your dreams or your goals is to keep moving forward, even if forward is only one step at a time, one day at a time.

Here's to the dreamers who can't give up.

 

 

 

 

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Confidence: A Writer’s Journey Begins with the First Step

Confidence

I don't throw the word Confidence around lightly. It is my biggest foe, my biggest hope. I lack it most of the time, but when I am a confident writer, employee, mother, I'm unstoppable.

Confidence is the writer's biggest asset, it gives you the strength to endure low sales, or none at all, and helps you to ignore the bad reviews that inevitably will come.

I'm Lacking Now

I've been doing the things I should have been doing 10 years ago, but have only begun doing. Concentrating on ads, blogs, creating relationships, researching the genre, author branding, updating the website.

Why did I wait? Lack of knowledge, lack of confidence, mostly the reasons I didn't start writing until I was 40.

It's been a tough few weeks. I always heard, write the books you want to read. So I did. But I didn't research the genre I write in and realized, my books are niche, and I'm not finding much similarities in other books out there.

When You're Discouraged

I'm in a position now that I'm very discouraged, after misjudging my genre. It's time to fall back, review the marketing plans, shake things up.

But it's more than that. It's the idea that it might be the time to quit, time to let mediocrity envelop me, get a 9-5 job and move on.

But I can't.

I was Born to be an Author

It's all I knew, all I ever wanted to be. I gain so much confidence when I write, when I create a complex, full story with great characters in all of their glory and their low points. When the books come together as a complete story, it's a high like nothing I've ever experienced. It's where my confidence comes from.

I was born to create and be this. As I write my final book of The Wizard Hall Chronicles, I find myself to be sad that it will be over, glad that I can start completely fresh with something else. But what I really see, is this; Annie is me and I am her and what I'm experiencing now is what she is experiencing.

Changes are coming for both her and I and we are struggling to work through challenges. It takes me longer to work through plot points because this time, I'm not just working things out for Annie, I'm doing it for me to.

It's Not That Bad

It's never as bad as we think or it's much worse than we know. I'm pushing myself more, more words per day, more ads, more time on social media. More, more, more, all in the hopes that I can move this crazy train forward and achieve something more than mediocrity.

I supposed that's the lesson here. Sometimes the confidence wanes and sometimes we have to push ourselves beyond that low point and move forward. We only get to where we are going if we keep moving forward.

As long as I remember that, there will never be room to quit.

 

 

 

 

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Being You – If I Won the Lottery This is What I’d Do

Being You

I've been a fan of the rock group Queen since I was in middle school. Queen was my first rock concert in August, 1982. I finally saw Bohemian Rhapsody today actually. The move struck a chord with me.

Freddie Mercury, he was at times an ass, he was at times a great love, he was most of the time so sure of himself and his talent and his vision.

I've shared many times my desire to be an author since I was 7. I very rarely strayed from that dream. I always chose jobs that would inevitably lead me to a writing position.

Taking a Chance on Me

I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, I clearly saw the idea that you have to believe in yourself, you have to take chances. I quit my job when I first read the quote: “She believed she could so she did,” by R.S Gray. I had never heard the quote before, I found it on a charm and bought it. It stuck with me. So much so I decided it was time to quit, time to manage my ads, get my books ready to be published. I needed to take a chance on myself and believe in me.

The Daily Struggle

I started really selling books last summer, though I've been trying for years. It was about learning to target, to write engaging copy, to put myself out there. For three months I sold something everyday. It was time. But it's been a struggle. Sales drop off, ads change, testimonial makes me nutty. But my friend Bri asked me what I would be doing if I won the lottery tomorrow.

I would be a writer.

Being You/Being Me

And back to Bohemian Rhapsody. Freddie Mercury found himself, in how he dressed, how he spoke, how he engaged with people, he believed he was born to perform. He went on his own personal journey and in the end, he found his success, happiness and love.

I learned a valuable lesson. I have me, and if I don't believe that I wrote a good book, or that I should put myself out there, than why do it. As always, it's about being myself, taking risks, and believing that I can do what I set out to do.

It may not work but then again, I may just find myself with everything I ever hoped to have. And if I won the lottery tomorrow, this is what I'd still do.

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Beginnings, Middles and Endings – Day 21

Endings

After sending book four of The Wizard Hall Chronicles, Prophecy, to my editor for a content edit, I decided it was time to plan for book five called The Rise of the Black Market. I wasn't quite ready to start the book, I was prepping the document adding a title page, the list of the books in the series, the copyright page, an acknowledgement page, Chapter 1. As I saved the beginnings of the book, it occurred to me in a very concrete sort of way, that this would be the last book I write in The Wizard Hall Chronicles.

Beginnings

The Wizard Hall Chronicles was the start of my author career. I had lived with the characters in my head for almost two years, learning about them, discovering their likes and dislikes, personality traits I wanted to explore, stories I wanted to tell, until one day I had enough confidence to sit down and finally write the story.

It started with the first draft of The Day of First Sun which in the end became over 50 drafts. Because I was new at the craft of writing novels, I ended up publishing the story three times. It was a necessary evil that propelled the story in a way I hadn't expected.

When I originally started The Wizard Hall Chronicles, I first had no series name and I had intended to write the series with stand alone books. The characters would waft in and out as they took on new paranormal cases. But that's now how the series progressed.

Middles

You see, before rewriting The Day of First Sun and publishing it for the third time, I was stuck. I published book two She Wulf, and it didn't go well. I found it difficult to move the story forward. I tried two different stories. neither worked.

I realized the problem was book one and in a flash, I was rewriting, in a major rewrite sort of way, until I had something that was so much better than any other incarnation.

When that happened, the rest of the series flew from my fingers in lightning speed. And another interesting thing happened. I found myself with a theme I never intended; the death of Annie Pearce's father. He was never supposed to be anything but Annie's background. Instead, his death was her past, her present and her future.

Sometimes you can't fight the direction the series will traverse. Sometimes you have to go with it. I went with it and it led me to the series finale, The Rise of the Black Market and I wasn't expecting how it would make me feel.

Endings

The series filled out. Characters went in and out of the stories as their roles changed or grew. I filled in more background of the characters so much so that Wizard War became the continuation of The Day of First Sun while Prophecy linked the first three books and acted as a bridge to the series finale.

But as I started Chapter 1, The Rise of the Black Market, it hit me hard. This book is the last of the series. It made me sad. It made my prematurely miss the characters that I had been living with for the last 12 years. unexpectedly, it made me long for the finale so I could start a new project, something different.

I'm a mix of emotions as I work through Annie Pearce and Cham Chamsky's final case. The case that brings all the stories together, the battle that will change their lives forever. I look forward to the work on this book, I look forward to putting the series to rest, to moving on and yet I know I will miss Annie, my alter ego. As she grew, I grew.

Beginnings, Middles and Endings

Here's to the next stage in my writing career!

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New Beginnings: Welcome to 2019 – Day One

New Beginnings – New Year's Resolutions

Welcome to new beginnings. I've already admitted I don't make resolutions. I realized a long time ago, they never really work and waiting for one special day to state what my intentions are for the coming year is a waste of emotional energy.

I'm fairly self-aware, so for me, I know what I need to do, and I don't limit myself to one day a year to bring about changes. Though I will admit, it's always easier to make a change at the start of the week or the start of a day.

New Beginnings – My goals are always the same

I try to eat right, exercise regularly, write everyday. I won't make a resolution per se, what I have done is set a goal for myself and for this year, it's selling more books than I sold this year. I really hope to become a full-time author and not have to rely on an 8-5 job.

New Beginnings – Selling More Books

I'm in a tough industry, this writing gig. It's a lot of ups and downs. Most of the time I want to throw my computer out the window, quit writing, stop spending money on ads, marketing, editing, book covers and software packages. And then I think, what else would I do with myself if I didn't write?

Once in a while, someone responds to an ad I'm running, stating that they loved the series and can't wait for the next book. I cry a little because I never realized I might have fans.

To to achieve my goals, I promise in the coming year I will not give up on the dream I've had since I was seven-years old. I want to be a writer and damn it, I shall keep trying, with new plans and additional help.

New Beginnings – The Resolution, Sort of

Rather than make resolutions, it's really about setting goals and completing the step needed to accomplish those goals.

I took a hard look at my book sales for the year and for the life of my books. I haven't made nearly enough to do this full-time, but since I started running ads in July, I've sold more in six months than I had in the last eight years. It's the first positive step on the way to a dream.

Now that the plan is in place, I'm concentrating on the positive strides I've made this year rather than all of the past failures. I'll ride this wave throughout this year and every month try to increase and make changes to the previous work.

You can look at the glass as half full or half empty, it's your choice.

So I look back at 2018 as a year of trial and error and the learning of many things and I look forward to 2019 with clear eyes and a real plan.

Welcome to 2019, may it bring you peace and happiness. I promise not to give up on my dreams if you promise not to give up on yours.

 

 

 

 

 

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Resolutions at the new year – I don’t need them anymore.

It's that time of year for resolutions

It's the time of year for resolutions when we make these pronouncements:

  • To lose weight
  • Start exercising
  • Take up a class
  • Finish a book

I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore.

Yes, I like to have a date when I will begin a new book, or have a book ready for publishing, but when it comes to these shouldas, couldas, wouldas, about my person, I feel as though I need to make a decision and begin, whether it's the beginning, middle or end of the year.

It's because I know what I need to do. I just have to get off my butt and do it, whatever it is, whenever it is.

What I know

See, I know I need to lose a few pounds. I need to eat smaller portions and eat less sugar. I didn't wait for the end of the year to make my New Year's resolution to begin. I just said, “This is what I need to be healthy.”

And I know it's not a diet. This is the way of life. I just have to do it.

For my career I knew I needed to manage the advertising and marketing and writing. I quit my job because at the moment I was able to. Because this is what I had to do if I want to be an author.

New Beginnings

We like the idea of new beginnings. The ability to shed the bad stuff from the previous year. I have a lot of baggage I could do that with. What I need to do instead, is remember to live in the moment. Not my resolution, but my real life, all the time.

It's not a resolution, it's simply me remembering that today is a new day and I need to live today with all that entails. No more resolutions, no more attempts. Just one day at a time. If I slip today, I pick up and do it again the next without judging myself or being hard on myself when one day goes badly. I tomorrow, not January 1. There's always tomorrow.

If you must have resolutions

If you must make a resolution, do this: Each and everyday I will:

  • Honor myself and my dreams
  • Live in the moment
  • Be passionate about something
  • Stop judging myself
  • Have a bad day and move on
  • Forgive myself for infractions that mean nothing

We mess up. We take corrective actions we move on. I will remember to live in the moment, not starting on January 1, but starting today.

Have yourself a very happy holiday season and be your best self, even if that means you lay around in your jammies watching Doctor Who episodes once and while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Giving to Get Without Meaning To

It Fell Into My Lap – A Giving Moment

So preoccupied with my own things, I hadn't thought about giving back, until four days before Thanksgiving, when my dad gave me a tip about an event honoring military personnel in basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Academy just north of Chicago.

Thanksgiving with the Navy, a Thanksgiving day for these young recruits away from the base, for bowling, for dinner. It's run by a veteran named Don, an Air Force airmen level 3 who served in Vietnam. After his experiences coming home, he vowed to honor the mem and women in the armed forces and 21 years ago, he came up with the idea to honor them with Thanksgiving dinner.

I'm a creature of habit. I have to workout before I do anything else, or I have to starting working on my books by 1pm. Spontaneous, I'm not. It was four days from Thanksgiving, I was hosting 14 people at my house; I had things to do.

But it was a worthwhile story to investigate. And after contacting my dad's client Lori, an owner of the Wauconda Bowl, I scheduled a time to meet with her, Don and Lisa, who runs the Thanksgiving dinner at the Moose lodge.

A Touching Moment of Giving Back

It was a touching conversation with all three organizers. Lori's son served in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s. Lisa's brother served in Grenada and Don was injured in Danang, Vietnam. We had a conversation about their connection to the military, their family sacrifices, their worry for their loved ones.

Thanksgiving day starts with 100 volunteers on motorcycles, many retired military, escorting the bus filled with Navy recruits, to Wauconda where the young men and women are walked through town, honored by participants of the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, and walked to the 9/11 memorial at the center of town.

From there, the recruits are taken to the bowling alley, opened by Lori, where they spend the morning bowling, eating donuts, chatting with the volunteers and former members of the military. Phones and computers are donated for the day so recruits can call home, or check Facebook or simply connect with friends and family.

There is no political parties, no rancor, only Americans doing something nice for other Americans during one of the most depressing times of the year; they holidays without family. The event in itself is a simple act of kindness.

My Giving Back

I'm a writer. To use my talent in the best way possible would be to give this amazing group of people the recognition they deserve. Not so much to give them the kudos for being selfless on Thanksgiving, but to also help them secure donations, to get their message to media and in doing so, encourage others to give of themselves, even if they're like me; creatures of habit who work very hard to go “off script.”

The little I did, was interview the organizers and show up the day of the event for an hour speaking with them, meeting some of the participants and other volunteers.

But what effects me so profoundly was at the end of the meeting on the Tuesday before the event, was speaking with Don, thanking him for his time and his service and assuring him, I will do my best to find an outlet for the story and I hoped that I could do the story justice. He nearly cried when he thanked me for what I was doing.

I wasn't expecting that.

Sometimes you take on a project for one reason and end up with a totally different perspective. I hope in the end I can do them justice and help out, if only for a day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Big Release – Wizard War

The Wizard War is Coming. What side will you choose?

I'm very proud to announce my third book in The Wizard Hall Chronicles series, Wizard War.

After spending the last year deep in edits, working with beta readers, and sending out books to ARC readers, I'm so excited to share this new adventure with Annie Pearce, Cham Chamsky and the rest of the Wizard Guards as they traipse through Europe in search of a vampire on a murderous streak.

The book in few words…

Eight months ago, Annie Pearce, closed the murder investigation of Princess Amelie of Amborix and put her killer in prison. So receiving a newspaper article with a picture of the princess alive and well, walking the streets of Paris, left Annie shocked and confused.

Who sent the picture?

With the threat of exposure hanging over her, Annie and her wizard guard partner, Spencer Ray chase the wily, young, vampire across Europe attempting to stop her murderous streak. When finding the vampire seems nearly impossible, Annie seeks out an old nemesis, Sturtagaard the vampire, to help them kill the demon princess.

But all is not as it seems. As Annie traipses across the jurisdiction of other wizard guard units, who blame her for the situation, tensions rise. A vulnerable Annie, must push aside her self-doubt and focus her energy on stopping the vampire. If she’s not careful, all her plans can lead to a wizard war, one that only she can stop.

Want More?

Get your fix of the Wizard Hall Chronicles anytime by signing up for my newsletter here on the site, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

 

 

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Inspiration is Around Me – This is Life

This is Life

Life is hard. We work full-time. We have children, friends, family, hobbies if we're lucky. We need to eat well, exercise daily. I have an adult child with severe anxiety, ADD and OCD. My youngest is a transgender male.

There's sleepless nights worrying about the extraordinary and sometimes I only have time to worry about the ordinary. You have to pick your battles.

I've always wanted to be a writer. I was seven when I started the Nancy Drew Mysteries. From that moment I not only wanted to read her adventures, I wanted to create and write my own adventures.

As life pulled me in difficult directions, writing became something more for me than just a means to make money doing something I was fairly good at. It became an escape from increasingly difficult and out of the ordinary situations. It was my inspiration.

Inspiration

Mystery novels have always been my first love. Taking a problem and digging one layer at a time to discover the truth. I also love the urban fantasy, epic fantasy realm. Hiding in the make-believe. It's there that I find equality lives, women can be strong leaders, justice most often prevails.

This is why I imagined Annie Pearce. Young, smart, beautiful, seemingly perfect but when you dig deeper, when you get to know her, she's flawed, she's vulnerable, she's real. She works in a highly male field as a Wizard Guard. A magical police officer who fights demons, vampires and evil wizards. She falls in love with her best friend and partner at work, Bobby “Cham” Chamsky and had to deal with the new emotions while investigating the biggest case of their careers.

Annie Pearce makes mistakes, some are small and easy to fix. Other mistakes can risk exposure or cause a wizard war. But she perseveres because that is her make up. She wants justice for the downtrodden, for the victims of crimes. Though she is young, she can be an inspiration.

Annie is the Me I Strive to Be

I wrote Annie to be the woman I wanted to be. A strong survivor who can and will find her way through a difficult and often scary world. Joss Whedon's Buffy Summers was one of my inspirations for putting together a relatable woman.

While I stumble through my life with increasingly difficult situations that make me want to cry or hide in the sand or simply run away, I remember the alter ego that I created. I suck it in and imagine the confidence and take one step in front of the other. This is what I want and for now, Annie is my own fairy godmother and inspiration as I make my way through the world of writing to become the author I want to be.

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Not a Self-Help Kinda Girl But This Changed My Life

She Believed She Could, So She Did – R. S. Grey

I'm not much of a self-help kinda girl. I don't criticize those who like that stuff. For me it's just so cult like. That someone could convince you to be a certain way or do a certain thing by what they say, versus you being able to do that for yourself.

When I Read Motivation, Self-Help Non Fiction, This Happens

That notwithstanding, I have on occasion read non-fiction works that have left me thinking, wishing, wanting something. My favorite has been and will always be On Writing by Stephen King. All writer's should read this, though I admit, it didn't quite light that fire under my butt and get me writing. And once I was a writer of a real book, it didn't inspire me to quit my job.

So next read, was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. It was also a journey about finding fulfillment and doing what makes you happy. What it made me want to do was prune and care for my yard. But as it was mid winter and my yard was covered under several inches of snow, I never made it to the reconstruction of my back yard and the growing of grapes on a trellis.

My last foray into the non-fiction inspirational type of self-help book, was Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I came across that quite by accident, when surfing cable for something to watch. Weirdly, I thought, it actually hooked me but really it only left me wanting to take a trip to Naples, Italy, find the restaurant with the green and white tiles and eat a margarita pizza. So much so I put it on my bucket list. No kidding.

Everything Changed With the Arrival of a Gift

Nothing, I say NOTHING has ever left me more motivated to do anything than the quote, “She Believed She Could, So She Did by R.S. Grey. Funny story. I received a Pandora bracelet for my 50th birthday recently. Not knowing much about it, I went online searching for a charm that represented me as a writer. Surprisingly I found a typewriter, with a disk and that exact quote etched into it. It was specifically marketed as a charm for writers, authors, bloggers. Perfect.

I had never heard the quote. But I ordered the charm. It stuck with me. The quintessential quote about confidence. The kind of confidence that lights a fire under your butt and forces a change in the way you live.

It took me all of two weeks to assess my situation; to realize that I've been steadily selling books. Maybe not enough to replace my salary, but enough to that I could quit a job I really didn't like and make a major push for the end goal.  A full-time writing career.

I Didn't Look Back

I kept my job because I wasn't selling enough books. But in order to sell more books, I needed more time. Once I found that quote, once I realized that all I needed was pure confidence in myself, than I could take that first scary step and author for a bit. Truly become that person that I knew I wanted to be when I was seven years old.

I never wavered from that dream. It has traveled with my from the time I was seven. It was all I wanted to be, and everything I did from writing my own detective stories at seven, to taking English classes in high school and getting a BA degree in English, to taking as a procedure writer, a blogger, writing brochures, newsletters or biographies. Everything I have done as been for that single moment when I took that step forward into the world I had dreamt of most of my life. To be an author, to say what I have to say, to be who I want.

It was all because of that quote. “She Believed She Could, So She Did.” To RS Grey I thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writer’s Block – It’s Only a Fallacy – Just Write Something

There is No Such Thing as Writer's Block

So how can I say that? Because yes, there are days that I can sit at the computer and the words don't come. Other days, different things become more important and I put off the writing because it's hard. It's not writer's block. It's anxiety of my own making.

How I Overcome What Isn't Writer's Block

Writing a book, a poem, a novella, a short story, is a scary proposition. You put yourself out there, expose your emotions, your story, personal story. The anxiety of that can be overwhelming. My anxiety stems from the fact that I'm rewriting my former second book in the series called She Wulf. I'm using part of the original story and expanding on it to now fit in the new series arc. It's a daunting project and in a way, I'm tied to the series, and have to work within these new parameters.

There's been a lot of that thing called writer's block, that thing that doesn't really exist. So how do I get past it. I write. I'm not talking about amusing, well written, ready to publish writing either. I'm talking about raw, nearly outlining, crap. Stuff I wouldn't bother to show my best of friends.

I Just Write

Being a writer is just that. We write. Even though this is essentially a re-write, it is truly a new book that has to do more than one thing. It has to link all of the books together, it has to explain a lot of unexplained plot points, it has to be an interesting story. And when I struggle to sit down and write chapter 9 because in all other incarnations of the book, this scene was always troublesome and never worked well, I had to seriously look at how I put this scene together.

It took me two days to work through the problem and only tonight was I able to really figure out how it happens. It's a pivotal scene. It moves the story from here to there, it had to be right. It also stinks. The writing is poor, but the story is the way it needs to be.

Believe in Yourself, Believe in Your Story

I truly believe there is no such thing as Writer's Block. After working on my fourth book, I understand that when I'm blocked, it has more to do with anxiety of the scene I'm setting up. When I understand that I have the ability to forgive myself for taking my time, for wasting time away from the book. And when I release some of the anxiety I can I ultimately always do, return to the book and write past the block.

I think it's the same with anything in life. New experiences can cause us to put things off because we're uncomfortable. Or we can feel stuck at a job, or just feeling the blues. It happens. Life is tricky and I think the key to working past the bumps whether its life or writing books is to believe in yourself, believe in your vision or in my case my story, and chip away little by little at the problem or the plot point that isn't working.

Or in some cases, completely re-write the book to make it work. Don't settle. You are worth the effort.

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Distraction can be used for Something Good

Distraction

So I have a confession to make — I sort of skew ADHD. No, I haven’t been officially diagnosed anything. But, distraction, when other things need to be done, oftentimes gets in the way. Does this ever happen with you? I have set myself a deadline to write, but the kitchen is slightly messy; I need to clean it before I can string together even a few words. I have calls to make for doctor appointments or for workmen to come fix things in the house, but the beds aren’t made so the calls go unmade. I find group projects can be a bit frustrating because I can see the order of the work flow and my colleagues may want to approach the topic from a different direction. Sometimes, I need to be all caught up on my “to-do” list to move forward in life.

This “affliction” drives my family crazy. My children do not understand why I need their rooms straightened so that I can focus on the writing. Perfection is a heavy burden to put on anyone’s shoulders.

Channeling this to be a Better Writer

But sometimes, this tendency of mine helps me to be a better writer. The “messiness” of a storyline may send me through a loop back to the very beginning of the writing process. For example, something didn’t click the when I finished the original book for the Wizard Hall Chronicles. While a great deal of time and effort went into the first publication of the series, I began to realize it “wasn’t in its right place.” Part of me knew I couldn’t move forward without going back to start again to put things on the right track. I was correct. Rewriting the story propelled everything forward.

So, as frustrating as it may be to others and myself, I know that my compulsion to have a certain amount of “order” in my personal and professional life is a secret weapon of some sort. Do you have any secret weapons? Are they personality quirks that may seem difficult on the one hand but bring you to a better place in the long run? Do these traits help you move forward or hold you back? Are you even aware that you have these traits? I think that being self-aware is the ticket to using your superpowers for good and not for evil.

 

 

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