writing Archives | Sheryl Steines

Category Archives for writing

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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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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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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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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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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Pitching an Agent – Someone Please Read My Book!

The Opportunity: Pitching an Agent

All we writers want is that single opportunity to give our book to an agent. To have one person be intrigued enough to ask for a full manuscript.

It's the first step, to traditionally publishing a book. You don't interview agents and pick the one you want to work with. You pitch the book with a query letter, and a small sampling of the book, usually the first 50 pages and a short synopsis. If you're lucky, they'll respond and ask for the whole book.

I've sent cold queries. Lots and lots and lots of them. I've come close. I had an agent tell me she wanted to like the book but couldn't get into the first three chapters I was required to send with the query. I was crushed.

When you find yourself with an opportunity to pitch an agent, you take it. I've been set up with agents through friends. I've been unsuccessful. I've gone to book conferences where I've met agents who have asked for more.

It was my weekend activity. I had the chance to pitch my book to several agents, four to be exact. Now the first pitch when badly in that I was all over the board and in the end realized I had mislabeled my genre. Who knew I wasn't urban fantasy. I am indeed, contemporary fantasy.

But I digress.

The Stress of Pitching: The Reward

The reward is to give enough information about your book that someone will ask for more; more chapters and the ultimate goal, the entire manuscript.

So back to this weekend. I had a total of four pitches. The first not so good. However, the second, third and fourth went better than expected. All agents asked for me to send them a pitch. One wasn't specific on requirements, I looked them up online. One agent was specific, I sent her what was required; the first 50 pages of the book to the address she requested.

Now the last agent was unexpected. She asked for the synopsis, my author bio and wait for it…. the manuscript. The holy grail of pitching the book. An actual request for the actual book.

The Aftermath

In the aftermath of a successful pitch; there's a down side. The feelings that come with sending your book to the agent. After hitting send, the feeling of dread that you've sent the book off and it wasn't ready. It sucks. It needs more work. “What was I thinking?” The process is a painful one for writers. It's sending your baby off to be critiqued, to be hated, or hopefully to be loved.

Thankfully, I was fortunate. Three of the four requested additional info, from synopses, to the entire manuscript.

I just sent my baby off to the agent. I hope she likes it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing: The Process – It Goes Round and Round

Once upon a time…

I had a story to tell, my own story of writing. I sat down at the computer and began to type. My fingers flew over the keyboard and the words poured out of me. And in six weeks’ time, I had a book. The End.
Only, it wasn’t the end. It was really the beginning. After that first draft, I must have made 30 more sets of changes. I was a total novice to this process. I used an online self-publishing site to create my book from cover-to-cover. I self-published the book in 2010. The End.

But this wasn’t the end either. After working on Book Two of the series, I hired an editor who suggested that I re-work the first book and re-release it. It had been widely reviewed and very well received. After a blog tour, my book was #1 in occult fiction on Amazon. The End.

The Writing Process Sometimes Doesn't End

Only, once again, I wasn’t at the end. I released what was then second book in the series called “She Wulf.”* And the writing process completely stalled. I realized that changes needed to be made to the whole series. I decided to rewrite the ending of The Day of First Sun and finish up story lines such as what happened to all the dead bodies and discuss what happened to the zombies.

As I read through the book, I saw many different things I hadn't seen before. I added scenes, I added conflict, and in the end, I completely rewrote the last half of the book, putting Annie in some serious situations she'd have to work through.

I also added more changes on the advice of my editor. She told me to put in more of the “beginnings” of the relationships rather than having all established relationships in between the pages.

In the process, one seemingly minor change, set the whole tone of the book with the addition of a dead body outside the bar. This new beginning unveiled the theme of protecting the secret of magic from the non-magical world. Lastly, I added a whole new character to the story that will play a big role in the series someone wanting to expose her and magic.

The Final Product

All of these changes led to a fuller, richer story. At least I hope so. In the end, I'm guessing that there were about 40 or 50 different drafts of the book. The current published version of The Day of First Sun is very different from what I sat down to write in 2009. And the process has been very different from I expected it to be when I had the dream of writing a book. It takes flexibility and the willingness to open your heart to change. It takes the advice of experts and listening to the inner voice within yourself about direction of the story and conveying the truth about the characters that you create. And, of course, it takes patience. The End. (for now…)

* She Wulf was shelved for a time and will be rewritten to fit the new timeline as Book 4 in the series. A new Book 2 was then written and published, Black Market. Click here for more information on this exciting chapter in the Wizard Hall Chronicles.

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Theme Writing – Saying Something with Purpose

Do My Books Have a Theme?

As a pantser, not a plotter, a writer who writes without plotting the story, I very rarely chose the book's theme before I begin. I actually don't think I really planned on a theme for any of the stories. To be perfectly honest, my goal has always been to write an entertaining story, one that leaves the reader happy they spent an afternoon with my characters.

I wanted relatable, real characters, a female lead who would be strong, and vulnerable as she navigated her life. I suppose for all intents and purposes, that was theme I was writing about.

After writing and publishing Black Market, I realized I was writing about so much more.

The Review that Got Me Thinking of my Book's Theme

Black Market – Beautifully and eloquently
combines themes of empowerment,
social justice, resilience, balance,
strength and vulnerability.
Erin – Good Men Project

Yes, I wanted Annie Pearce to be a symbol of empowerment, a woman in a man's world, navigating difficult men who called her “girl”, vampires who treated her like a dolt. Set in the world of the police procedural you'd even see the theme of social justice and what does good vs. evil look like.

Wizard War – Book Three – Theme of Justice

I hadn't realized when I wrote Wizard War, that I so heavily discussed the meaning of justice. What it is and how do you determine if justice was served. For example, it's much like the debate, the death penalty vs life in prison. Though I'm not here to discuss that, I do examine how the magical world makes deals with the demon to further the course of the investigation.

In this story, was justice served if the investigation techniques fall in the ethically gray area?

My characters aren't perfect and are oftentimes faced with decisions that affect the outcome of the case or challenge their existing beliefs.

I don't think I could have planned for the story's themes to blend so beautifully if I tried. But the reader or in the case the reviewer of the attached quote, saw what had been floating around in my head. A book so much more than an afternoon adventure, one that might even have a message, something important to say.

I'm always amazed by what I see in my stories as it compares to what others take away from the book and I'm glad that I can offer something more complex than just a stake through the heart.

 

 

 

 

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If Magic Were Real Would We Have to Share

Protecting Magic at all Costs

It’s a common trope in supernatural books: magic must be hidden from the non-magical world, no matter the cost. In Harry Potter’s world, the Ministry of Magic would punish offenders for exposing magic. In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, protagonists Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein were threatened with execution when it was thought that they conspired to release a dangerous Obscurus on the unsuspecting citizens of New York City. When destruction and chaos followed, the American version of the Ministry of Magic repaired the damage and removed all memory of magic from the minds of “non-mags”.

There's a Plan In Place

In the Wizard Hall Chronicles, my characters are also charged with protecting the secret of magic; a theme important throughout the series. The Wizard Guard has a team of experts, led by Graham Lightner, who come in immediately after an event to clean the scene of all traces of the supernatural. In book one, The Day of the First Sun, kicks off with a vampire attack discovered before Graham’s Vampire Attack Unit can conceal the aftermath. In book two, Black Market, it's a race against time to keep magic a secret as the barriers between the two worlds are threatened.

But even as I have created this world and bought into the theory that the secret of magic must be protected at all costs, it makes me think; what would happen if the non-magical world knew that magic exists? There are so many benefits that magic could bring to humanity – curing diseases, ending poverty, saving lives…Is it fair to hide these valuable benefits from humankind?

Should the Gifts be Shared

This debate really hit me after watching Black Panther. In the movie, the country of Wauconda has prosperity and incredible technology due to the resource that they possess – vibranium . They can heal, build powerful weapons, and protect their people with this element. For generations, they chose to keep it a secret in order to safeguard their way of life. The moral debate: open up their country and share their “magical” secret with the rest of the world. As they heal an outsider from the brink of death, it’s hard to argue that their abilities should not be shared with all of humanity.

Ethics of Sharing

Even in my world, magic has healed severely injured characters. So why not reveal the beauty and power of magic? For me, I think my characters realize humankind cannot really process and accept magic as a safe way of life. Even as far back as the Salem Witch Trials, we have seen that fear and ignorance can be dangerous. Also – there are nefarious individuals in this world – what would they do to have magic at their control? Right now, the magical world of Wizard Hall uses their magic on a finite group that is considerably small. If we added the rest of humanity into the equation, is there enough magic to take care of the billions more involved?

These answers are not easy. What do you think? Does the magical world have the moral imperative to share their abilities with the non-magical world? Or do you think exposing the secret of magic would be a disaster? Share your thoughts with me .

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STORIES, THE COMPULSION TO WRITE: BRINGING WORLDS TO REALITY

The Young Dreamer

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

Stories Are Still There

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

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

How Far it Goes

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

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

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Here’s to the Strong Female Character! May we know them; May we be them; May we raise them; AND MAY WE WRITE ABOUT THEM!

March is Women’s History Month

It brings me back to a familiar topic here on my blog – the strong female character at the heart of an interesting, complex story. As a fan, I look to books and movies that feature kick-ass women as their lead. These ladies are the ones who don’t wait until their boyfriends show up to save the day – they kick down the door and take no prisoners.

As an author and as a woman, it was important to me to create such a protagonist. I wanted to imbue Annie Pearce with a sense of fierceness, intelligence and bravery usually associated with heroes like James Bond or Indiana Jones. In MY story, other characters look to Annie for guidance, intuition and answers.

Why I Created a Strong Female Character

Annie Pearce is who I would be, if I could snap my fingers and be anyone. In Annie’s world, magic is a comfortable tool to help her solve crimes. She dares to go in dark, dangerous places to hunt down clues and witnesses – never afraid to step into places like the Black Market filled with vampires, dark magic practitioners, and beasts not seen in our everyday world. When faced by treacherous villains who may have been responsible for her father’s death, she digs deep inside herself and finds the inner strength needed to confront these individuals. When her own life is threatened, she doesn’t wait for someone to come and save her – she finds her own way out of the situation and manages to save others at the same time.

Annie is also compassionate and thoughtful. She has endeared herself to her fellow members of the Wizard Guard and different magical creatures that she meets along the way. She has even garnered the loyalty of some questionable characters that are willing to put their lives on the line for her.

Real Women

You see, strong women have the unique ability to blend the tough and the tender. I wrote the character of Annie to show the importance of both of those traits. Annie is in the front of the battle, but she follows behind to check on those affected by the fray. I hope that she is an inspirational role for young women as they are developing their sense of self. I hope they find the strength to be “Kick-Ass” while being nurturing and loving individuals.

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A Year in the Life of the Tree Beside My Window

Life – Less

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surviving Life

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

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

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