Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Excellence in Writing

Having been asked my strengths in my writing, I imagine the whole list of my weaknesses.  I have decided to look at the areas I excel at with writing to keep my mind on the positives.  There is a time to explore where we need to improve by all means.  When I begin a project, I want to be in the best frame of mind that I can be.  This is the way I overcome my inner critic that loves to mess with us all.  Undermining our confidence, making us edit as we go or making us just plain give up, the inner critic is a tricky little bugger.  Looking for the areas I excel, in my mind, means that I am better at somethings and not at others.  I don't envision that long list of things that I am weak at or all the mistakes I have and will make throughout the project.  The only thing before me is knowing I will hit my expectations in certain areas.

The process of writing is so solitary.  I can believe anything I want about my writing.  I could believe I am worse than any other writer out there or my characters have no depth or any one of a hundred other lies.  The delusions are the job of that critic.  I shut that critic up.  Every time I write, the urge to self-edit or rewrite things as I go never appears.  I excel at deciding to follow my heart and mind as I "vomit" the story onto the page.  This is the only way I have been able to get the full story written.

Writing by the seat of my pants is another of those positive things.  With an idea, beginning and end in mind, I sit before my laptop and just go for it.  Do I end up where I am going?  Not always.  Do things unfold as I imagined?  Not usually.  Do I surprise myself during the process?  Absolutely!  There is nothing more exciting then writing along and getting to the end of the scene then thinking "I never saw that coming".  I let my characters talk and write their own stories.  Not every person can write this way or wants to "allow" the characters to "speak".  I am excellent at it.

The last thing I would like to touch upon is my characters.  Having let many people read my different pieces, I am told that I capture the characters well.  Their dialogue is great.  And my stories really are character driven.  It is a great pleasure to close my eyes and really see as my main character sees.  The visions contained in that moment shape the story.  I step into their bodies and think as I imagine they do.  When writing young adult novels, this is important.  No teenager wants to read about a 15 year old who talks and acts like she's 25.  It doesn't work.  For me, the key to this skill is reading.  I devour book and book from great young adult authors.  I see the depth they instill in their characters and the actions they take.  Excelling in this area is the single most important thing to me as a write.

It has been a joy to share with you the areas I excel at as a writer.  To look at my weakness now would only stunt the progress on my current project.  Weaknesses are best enjoyed during editing.  Silence your inner critic and write your story as best as you can.  It is time to continue with "vomiting" my story onto paper. 

This post was inspired my the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.  The tour includes more than 20 other authors who share their experiences with each topic.  September's topic is "What are my writing strength?".  Check back tomorrow for the strengths of  G R Colorado.

Monday, September 10, 2012

There is always hope...

September 9 - 15, 2012 is National Suicide Prevention Week

Since that is this week, I thought I would take a few minutes to devote to this topic.  It is very near and dear to me as some people may know and others may not.  I can offer a little insight into my mind then.

Nine years ago, I felt like I was at the bottom of an abysmal place.  The top of this pit had no light showing.  I was scared and alone.  No one answered my cries.  I was nobody.  As was normal for any given day, I drove to several locations and took care of work and personal errands.  On my way home one afternoon, I veered my car towards the cement pilings under the overpass.  A car honked and brought me back to reality and I swerved to avoid the crash.  My mind raced with the anticipation of ending the pain inside.  The light at the end of a tunnel of fear and terror.  Several days later, my husband was in the car with me and he had to right the steering wheel of the car several times.  It was time to seek help.  But, was there hope?

I was determined that I was not sick but the doctor started talking about bipolar disorder.  The stigma surrounding that diagnosis was unnerving.  I yelled at this doctor that I was not bipolar after listing my shopping addiction and my angry outbursts and the desire to die as well as strangle other people.  Medications and several therapy sessions later, I was released back into my life to tough it all out.

Fast forward three years and we look in on a similar situation.  Despair and depression are rampant.  I hit a brick wall of a psychotic break.  That very evening, I tried to strangle my husband and then planned to kill myself.  After many tears and struggles, we made our way to the ER and the inevitable decision to sign myself into a residential facility.  I learned many things during those several days.  About myself and the way I let others treat me.  Patterns from my past emerged and I had to deal with the demons of being sexually assaulted as well as physically abused during my teen years.  All tough things to meet head on yet I did.  I had to stop working because any stress caused breakdowns.  My anxiety soared to new levels.  There was no way for me to concentrate on anything for more than a few moments and interacting with people was impossible.

For many days, weeks, months and even years after, my husband still has to hide knives and throw out sharp objects from time to time.  These demons follow me around as well.  I have found the best therapist a girl could ask for and learned the most important thing in this fight with depression and suicidal tendencies.  There is hope.  Every day you wake up is a win.  Each breath is one more than the last.  Loved ones can smile and interact with you another time.

Here's the thing that many depressed people fail to understand.  Suicide is selfish.  Plain and simple.  You end your pain but think of the wake of destruction behind you.  Parents, significant others, children, siblings, other family members and friends all mourn the loss of you.  Each day they get up knowing that they will never be able to share that story with you.  The children you left behind will never have a dad or mom to support them when they graduate from high school or get married.  You will have grandchildren that never know you.  This is the hope!  That you can know that you will be missed.  No one elses' life will ever be the same without you.  As you fall down into that pit another time, look for your hope not the easy way out.  These people who will miss you, they will much rather help you out of that pit.  A gesture of their hand to pull you up and along is what they offer.  Hope is what they offer.

For those of you who wonder, this is an extremely tough topic to discuss.  This is the first time I have ever opened my mind and heart for all to see.  I still struggle every hour of every day.  I function at a sub-par level and hate every minute of it.  Please be respectful!  Thank you!

Please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to educate yourself and see how you can help those that you love.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

To Be Read List

This is a long list at our house!  We have well over 1500 books in our library at the moment.  My to be read new releases are on another shelf in the living room.  And the range of genres and books vary greatly!  Some may think we have ADD when it comes to making book choices.  Our last trip to the book store included buying Abrham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith, Atremis Fowl books 5 & 6 by Eoin Colfer, Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult and Burned by Ellen Hopkins.  We also purchased What to Expect when you are Expecting and What to Expect When your Wife is Expanding.  This is not a very cohesive reading list to most people but it works for us.

I enjoy popular fiction by strong female authors.  Being a writer of mainly young adult fiction, I read as many different authors as I can in this genre.  My secret passion lately has been H.P. Lovecraft.  My Kindle is stocked full of his works.  The varying degree of subjects and genres keeps me interested and reading at least a book a week.  When this shelf empties out, I will head to my library to tackle novels my husband has collected which includes Shadowrun books as well as several Dungeons & Dragon franchise novels.  We run the gambit here and do not discriminate.

The list of books is extensive so I can offer a short list of the authors that represent multiple books at once.  Jodi Picoult, Eoin Colfer, John Green, Ellen Hopkins, H.P. Lovecraft, Shakespeare, George Orwell, Sarah Dessen and Julie Kenner.  There are many others among the ranks but I will leave it here.  All I can say is I read all the time and have no favorites!!!

This blog was inspired by Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour brought to you by Forward Motion for Writer, a free web-based community for serious authors.  Our topic this month was What's on your To-Be-Read List?  Please head over to Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour to see what other members are reading right now.  Our next blog will be by G.R. Colorado.  Stop by The Literary Hub to check out the To-Be-Read list.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's all about the words...

Books, words, stories, plots, characters.  These are all the things that have accompanied me as long as I can remember.  Each night before bed, I would kneel before my bookshelf and run my hands over all the spines of my favorite stories and my friends.  The likes of Mickie Mouse, The Littles, My Little Pony and, of course, The Berenstain Bears.  My dad would sit on the edge of my bed and read the same beloved stories time and time again.  As I got older, I started holding the books and reading along.  Until one day, I was able to read them by myself.  At that point, I never stopped.  I would devour a book in an afternoon and pick up another.  Then another after that one.  It was a passion.  An escape. The characters WERE my friends.  I felt their pain and happiness.  The butterflies fluttered in my tummy during Charlotte's Web.  Their world was my world.

My passion has always been the written word.  Technology has advanced but the touch, the feel and the smell of a bound book comforts me.  Turning the pages reminds me of those childhood years when I had no cares.  This love made me the student I was as I wrote papers, stories and poetry for my own amusement and for assignments.  In the beginning, I had many start and stop stories.  More of thoughts and outlines to go back to later.  My poetry was the number one thing for several years.  I read every book I could get my hands on but my writing was poetry.  Reaching the middle of high school, I ran out of academic classes to take so I signed up for Creative Writing.  The first day of class we were handed 5 1/4" floppy discs to save our work on before we printed it off on dot-matrix printers.  The sound of that printer kicking into action excited me.  My words on the paper for others to read.

Almost 20 years later, I am still typing in front of a computer.  My ideas flowing into a story.  The birthing of a novel is a strenuous job.  And I love it.  My creativity can flow and I can say whatever I want.  No one can tell me what is or isn't supposed to be in my stories.  I am free to explore the depths of my mind.  And I love it.

This month's topic for Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour for Forward Motion is "Why am I a writer".  My answer quite simply is: I love words.  I cannot think of another reason better.  Writing a story is setting down words to convey what is in my mind.  Without words, there would be no writers or books to read.  I am thankful to my dad for instilling the love of reading and the importance of it at a very young age.  It has been a light in dark times.  A beacon to show me my way through the mist of sadness.  The time spent with a book is never wasted but a cherished time with old friends.  Til we meet again...

Please go visit the writings of my fellow writers at Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour and see why they became writers themselves.  Tomorrow will bring the writings of G R Colorado.  Until next month, happy reading!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The art of Flim Flam

So, today is my day to rant about the treatment of women by the automobile industy.  Women are not inferior to men.  Each individual has strong points and weak points.  Our skill sets are different.  It is just human nature.  All that being said, I see women being treated as less intelligent when it comes to car purchases and repairs.  This morning was a perfect example.

My husband works Monday through Friday from 8:00am until 5:00pm or later.  This left the responsibilty of purchasing tires to me.  Not generally a problem.  We priced the tires and went to the local Discount Tire and asked for a price match.  No problem there.  I made an appointment and made my way to get the new tires.  All was going very well until I was paying and the salesman offered to add an additional 2 tires for a total of 4.  He explained that there was a rebate if we purchased a full set.  I agreed and made my purchase for four tires of the specifications that I originally requested.  No problems there.

After waiting for the tires to be installed, I got into my truck and came home.  The ride was nice and I realized how badly the tires were needed.  The problem came next.  My husband came home for lunch and immediately said, "Those aren't the tires we asked for.  How much did he charge you and what did he say he was selling you?"  I pulled out the receipt and sure enough, he had changed the tire model to the cheaper tire without telling me and did not adjust the price to reflect the change.  A total difference of $62 after we repriced the tires we received.  Would this have happened if my husband had went to the tire shop?  I highly doubt it because he would have known they were wrong before he left the shop.  He would have known to ask if they had enough of the correct tires in stock.  I am not blaming being female on the swindle but my lack of knowledge.  However, I do blame the salesman for flim flamming.  He knew I didn't know much about tires because I did say so.  I realize my limitations and he exploited that fact.

My lesson was learned today.  Firstly, that I need to be more aware of the reciepts when I handle car related transactions.  Secondly, that Discount Tire is known for flim flam sales. And thirdly, I know my limitations and need to refuse to handle transactions that are outside of that scope.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Life's a Balancing Act

In the month of June, Forward Motion's Merry Go Round blog topic is balancing life and writing.  It is a tough topic for many reasons but everyone can relate.  So, it is time to delve into my experience with the balancing act.

From the minute we are born, we must learn to divide our time amongst different tasks.  The young baby has only a few things to balance: sleep, eat, cry...  It is simple and the baby never has a worry because these things settle in well together.  That is until they grow and need to learn new things like crawling, feeding themselves, walking and talking.  The lesson begins.

Life prepares us slowly for the busyness of adulthood.  We start out like that infant with limited abilities and needs.  Slowly, new skills are learned and we grow to learn to balance physically as well as figuratively.  Once you get the physical balance down, you start to run and never look back.  Seems awesome, right?  But what are you running towards?  Adulthood.  Responsibility.  A life to balance all of your own roles in it.

I am a wife, an aunt, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a homemaker and a writer.  These are just the roles I fill today.  As we start our family, a mother's role will be added.  I toss my juggling balls into the air and hope for the best every day.  My feet it the floor each moment with the sole purpose of not disappointing anyone in my life, myself included.  However, I am the first person I sacrifice to take care of others.  My time alone, my time to read and, of course, my time to write,  These are the first things to go.  My husband is taken care of as well as our home.  My parents have been checked in on.  My friends and other family members have all claimed their piece of me for that day.  The quiet of evening takes over and the time to write turns into zoning in front of the TV to relax.  But no more will I let my life run me!

My new resolve in life is to balance the personal life and my writing life so that each is fulfilling.  I have a to do list each day.  It includes the household activities that need tending to as well as my objectives for my writing.  I am not looking at each aspect of my life as a chunk of time but as each task getting the attention it deserves.  Today is writing this blog.  Tomorrow I will start to create character profiles for my next project.  Will I fail some days?  I am sure of it but I still toss those balls in the air every morning.  Hope for the best and expect the worst.  You end up happily surprised at the end of the day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

You've got readers!

Who is my Ideal Reader?  That is a very good question.  January is Ideal Reader month on the Forward Motion Merry-Go-Round blog.  Each writer needs to take time and figure this out to see if they are meeting the needs of the reader.

I am lucky to be able to answer this question without a doubt.  When I started writing, I wrote about what I knew.  I know all about mentally ill pre-teens and teens.  I also know a great deal about mental illnesses and how to deal with them.  My first character came from past experience as well.  I thought it would be awesome if teens could read about characters that are dealing with real life issues.  Their issues!  Hence, a target audience was born.

Will this work for all of my manuscripts?  The answer is, of course, no.  Over time things change in your works.  The style, subject matter and audience all are looked at in a new light.  We, as writers, should remember to adapt and examine our works.  Then, and only then, can we know who our Ideal Reader really is.

Check out other writers Ideal Writers at