confidence Archives | Sheryl Steines

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We Always Have a Choice – What Is Yours?

Choices We Might Not Want to Make

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

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

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

Consciously Choosing

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

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

So What Choice Did I Make?

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

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

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

My growing list of new experiences:

Belly dancing (totally out of my comfort zone)

Rock climbing (indoors at first)

Soul cycle

Tearto Zin Zani

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

Run a 5K

Travel more

Cairo, Illinois (abandoned town)

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

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Resolution – I Still Don’t Make Them

Resolutions

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

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

Every Day is a New Day

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

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

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

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

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

How You Ask?

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

Resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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Mindset – What You Tell Yourself Matters

Mindset

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

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

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

If we can all live like that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What you tell yourself matters

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

I was wrong.

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

How we change our mindset

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

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

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

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

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Prophecy – Answering the Unknown Questions

Prophecy

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

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

It is a complex story line.

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

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annie nodded.

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

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

 

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Change – How Am I Doing So Far?

Making the Change

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

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

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

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

So How's It Going?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the Pity-Party is Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's No One's Fault but My Own

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

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

I'm Done

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

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

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

 The pity-party is over.

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The Dream is winding down. Prophecy coming soon.

The Turning Point

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

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

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

Reality

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

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

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

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

It used to be called She Wulf

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

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

My personal journey is mirrored in Annie's

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catch up on the Wizard Hall Chronicles on Amazon today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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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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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