confidence Archives | Sheryl Steines

Category Archives for confidence

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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How We Overcome – Whe Art Imitates Life

Art Imitating Life

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

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

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

Has it helped? I'm not so sure.

Overcoming

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

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

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

Sharing

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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ASKING HELP FROM OTHERS: Are you an Annie?

Annie Pearce has a problem

She keeps going off by herself and doesn't ask for help. Whether it's to follow leads, a suspect or even do research, she repeatedly leaves on her own, against the warnings of friends and colleagues to not go anywhere without backup or knowing where she is. It's a problem throughout book one of the Wizard Hall Chronicles, The Day of First Sun.  

Cham: “Can I look at your neck?” Dark purple bruises covered both sides of her neck. “I should have gone.” His obvious concern caused Annie a great deal of guilt.

Annie: “I shouldn’t go out like that again.”

Consequences Aren't So High in the Real World

Now, we all slip away on our own from time to time. But in our world, there are few consequences to that action. Annie’s world, however, is fraught with danger. She's investigating crimes committed by powerful individuals – all of whom have an ax to grind against her specifically. Yet, despite the fact that Annie’s boss, boyfriend, and colleagues consistently offer her their support and services, Annie sneaks off by herself to follow a lead. She goes to a warehouse and witnesses humans being turned into zombies and is almost caught as she leaves.

Cham: “I’ve been calling for you for an hour. We need to talk about the plan, and you’re constantly gone…Please tell me what is going on.”
Annie: “I’m trying to catch a murderer.”
Cham: “Whose murderer?”
Annie: “Does it matter?”
Cham: “If you get yourself killed, yeah, it matters. Where were you?”
Annie: “I broke into his warehouse and hid…They knew someone was there. And I was scared. No one knew where I was…”

She follows the evil wizard behind the creation of this zombie army and winds up doing battle with him without backup. After each occurrence, she is chastised by others but it doesn’t really stop her from doing it again.

Cham: “Where were you?…No call, no idea where you were. I’m sorry if I was worried!”
Annie: “I’m a big girl. I don’t need you to take care of everything. I can take care of myself.”…Her heart raced, and she bit her lip to keep from crying…
I didn’t listen to Milo. No one knew where I was.

“You’re not getting out of here alive!” the evil wizard taunted. Annie rolled her eyes.
But then again no one knows I’m confined with him down here.

Asking for Help

As a reader, I’m sure you want to jump through the pages and shake Annie, screaming “why are you taking these chances? Accept the help being offered!” I oftentimes thought that as I was writing it. But Annie is based on real women with familiar struggles we can relate to.

It might not be as dangerous as chasing zombies. It could be a simple as you are sick and others have offered to help, or you have a lot on your plate and are concerned you can’t do it in the time frame you have available. People offer to help, but you say them you have it covered or you don’t want to bother anyone. Or it could just be a control issue, only you can do it. I've been guilty of all of these. Many people have trouble accepting the extended hand of others. And as a person who is independent and intelligent, Annie is one of these individuals.

Annie learns her lesson in the second book of the series, Black Market. Annie is very aware that she has this tendency and works hard to overcome it. So my question to you today– do you see yourself in Annie? Do you ask for help when needed? Or do you take it all on by yourself to your detriment? I have to admit that I frequently struggle with this issue. It is a lot easier to “cure” a character than to “cure” yourself!

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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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