Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Scene 22: Real Life...

It has a nasty habit of getting in the way.

I've decided I'm not very good at being present in my real life and being present in my "author" life. Yes, you could say they are both my real life, and you'd be right. They are. I just can't seem to do both at the same time.

Balance, my friends, is difficult to achieve.

I often look back, when I realize I'm behind on the things I want to be on top of, and ponder what it is that I've been doing that's kept me away from what I really wanted to be doing. This seems to be a process I visit often as I am usually behind on what I'd like to be accomplishing with my writing. Goals, I think, most people would call them. I like to call them future accomplishments. It seems, however, when I am trying to remember what's keeping me from making them actual accomplishments, mostly, I come up with nothing. At least, at first.

Such was the case a few years ago when a friend and I made goal/future accomplishment plan to finish our first novels by a certain date. It is always more fun to engage in accomplishment-making with a partner in crime :) My partner met her goal... I did not. I was super depressed and very down on myself having not accomplished anything. Then I said to myself, "Self, take heart. No one accomplishes nothing. You've had to have accomplished something in the last month." Thus, the Non-Accomplishment List was born. Click here to read it.

Today, as I contemplate this last year and realize I haven't accomplished all in my "author" life that I've set out to do (especially after meeting Jordan Sonnenblick today and hearing him speak about being inspired and keeping your dreams moving forward), I feel perhaps it's time to write another list and remember all that I have accomplished.

My 2014 Non-Accomplishment List

1. Made roughly 550 meals.

3. Washed, dried and folded at least 365 loads of laundry, probably closer to the number of meals I cooked last year.

4. Helped four children prepare for state exams, do homework daily and let's not forget the extra projects. I calculate at least 6.

5. Attended weekly family therapy sessions for 6 months.

6. Had weekly individual therapy sessions for 9 months.

*These last two really deserve an award all of their own.

7. Got a new job. My first full-time job in 13+ years.

8. Wrote (at the very least, a list) six days a week.

9. Read 22 books.

10. Attended a three-hour block of church every Sunday :)

11. Made monthly trips to visit my brother.

12. Created a castle wall. For real! For Cub Scout Camp. It was awesome. See?

13. Pulled off a Pinewood Derby.

14. And the most epic Blue and Gold Banquet. We had knights, jousting, bows and arrows, face painting, fanfare music, a king, a cake contest and a chili cook-off, and each of our cub scouts got knighted. When I say it was epic, that's not hyperbole.

15. Got not one, but two speeding tickets. What can I say, I'm an over-achiever.

16. Registered four children for school. That's like a bajillion papers, people!

17. Threw three birthday parties and one amazing Gingerbread House Party.

And the list goes on and on. You get the picture. I may not have accomplished everything in the timely manner that I wanted to (yet), but I am accomplishing great things (okay, admittedly, the speeding tickets aren't great) each and every day. No work is too small.

I have to admit though, and proudly declare, that I did publish a story in an awesome YA anthology alongside 9 other talented authors. Check it out here. And purchase it here. (Incidentally, there is a blog book tour happening right now for Strange and Lovely. Check it out.) 

And, I can't forget to remind myself that I also had various essays and another short short story published online last year. I am getting somewhere, even if it's not on the time-table I previously planned.

What's on your real-life future-accomplishments list? What about your non-accomplishments list?

*replace 'writer' with whatever it is that you already are :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Scene 21: Let's get this party started!

When I turned 21 it was rather anti-climatic. For starters, I don't drink. Never have. So it wasn't a landmark birthday for me. Also, I was 9 months pregnant with my first child... and might have convinced my husband it would be fun to invite all our friends out for a day of miniature golf. In case you're curious, a couple hours playing miniature golf on the hottest day of the summer when you're 9 months pregnant is not a good idea. I'll have to dedicate an entire post to that experience another day.

The point is... Happy 21st blog post!!!

To celebrate let's talk giveaways, shall we?

I'm delighted to announce that Strange and Lovely: Paranormal Tales of Thrills and Romance is now available for purchase on Amazon as both a Kindle book and a paperback. So far, our little baby is faring well. We've been on the top 20 list for our genre since launch. Party, it's your birthday!

This weekend begins our two-day release party! You can join the action HERE. Yes, I just yelled 'here' at you. It is that exciting.

We have lots of great authors on the line up. Each will do a one-hour take-over. You know what that means, lots of giveaways! I'll be taking over the feed at 6pm on both Friday, October 10th and Saturday, October 11th.

I'll be giving away items to promote both my story in the Strange and Lovely anthology and also my upcoming book, I Am: Guinevere. To get you extra pumped up, I decided to let you in on a few of the things I'll be giving away.

Items you have to look forward to: amazing car decals, t-shirts, necklaces and these---

What are those fantastically pretty things, you say? Jamberry! Custom-made for my stories. Oh yeah! Special thanks to my multi-talented friend Molly for making these for us. If you don't know what Jamberry wraps are, please check out Molly's site and let your life be enlightened. You'll never be the same. Promise.

How exciting is all that?

I know, right?

Until then.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Scene 20: News

I'm kind of in geek-out mode at the moment. Lots of exciting things happening. The first of which is a Goodreads giveaway for Strange and Lovely.  We're giving away 10 copies of our book.  Click here to enter.

The second bit of exciting news goes along with the first: I'm now listed as an author on Goodreads!  Say what? It's so surreal and amazing. I've worked for this for a long time. So nervous, thrilled my stomach is a nest of butterflies and snakes and kittens. Seriously. As a nod to my college days, I think it's time to jump on the couch!

I've also been working on several projects, both new and already-in-the-works and should have my first solo book coming out early 2015!  That's like jump on the couch times five, people.

Last, but not least, speaking of my solo book... If you haven't had a chance yet, check out my "Meet My Character" Blog Hop blog post on This Side of Invisible by clicking here.

Keep an eye out, the world is going to be seeing much more from me.

Also, if anyone is an avid book reviewer, I might have an ARC to offer you ;)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Scene 19: Cover Reveal, Pre-order, Giveaway... oh, my!

The cover is here and it is beautiful! Isn't it?

To celebrate we have a few announcements:
1) Check out our awesome giveaway page. Lots happening there over the next week. Amazon gift cards, books, and other goodies to be had. Enter to win and be sure to check back again and again so you don't miss out on anything.
**Click here to go to the giveaway.

2) The book will be released October 4th, but it's now available for pre-order!!!
Mermaids, changelings, and ghosts...oh my!
The Authors of Strange and Lovely: Paranormal Tales of Thrills and Romance, are excited to announce their YA paranormal anthology, Strange and Lovely, is now available for pre-order for both paperback and eBook formats (Kindle).

Please be sure to enter your email address in the space provided during checkout, especially if pre-ordering an ebook.
If you don't own a kindle, you can easily download the Kindle Cloud Reader for your computer for free. Here is a great tutorial for downloading the app on your computer.

We thank you for your continued support and constant love.
The Authors of Strange and Lovely

Friday, August 15, 2014

Scene 18: Smidgens of Love

I love them. Love letters, that is. In a folder, I have hundreds of little love letters between my husband and me. It's maybe my favorite part of our military life. Deployments suck with a capital 'S', but because of them I have a folder full of treasured words.

My man can be quite eloquent when he wants to be. In fact, I've recently used some of his love letters as inspiration to help me in a new project I've started--it's a secret, but it has to do with, you guessed it, love letters. I'm super excited about it and though I don't want to reveal too much yet, I can't help but share a little.

Ready for a smidgen of love?

credit here

From Lover #1
"Odysseus may have his Helen of Troy. Mark Antony may have his Cleopatra. For Venus has smiled upon me and has brought me you.  You are the making of my soul. Keep it well, my lady."

From Lover #2
"Always is how long I have loved you, adored you, longed for you. Never is when my affections will cease. Forever I give myself to thee. Someday, my otherself, I will be free to share these thoughts with you."

I mean, how fun is that! Really. What's a girl to do? How's she supposed to chose between that?

Ever had a great love letter written to you? Ever penned one yourself? Please share.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Scene 17: a brief psychotic break

Late Saturday night, after hours of cleaning up water (thanks Mt. St. Helens for possessing my toilet), I was trying to sleep, but couldn't so I was scrolling through facebook. As you do.

This graphic came across my feed:

My heart was suddenly racing, pumping blood through my veins so fast, I shot out of bed and ran downstairs, thrusting said graphic in my husband's face.

"What is this?" he asked.

I was hyperventilating and it took me about thirty seconds to answer. "That's my poem. Someone made a meme out of my poem and didn't put my name on it!  That's mine. Those are my words!!!" I fumbled with my phone for a minute then shoved it in his face again. "See, it's on my blog. I wrote that."

Click here to see the blog post.

During the next ten minutes, my husband decided we had to follow up on this and listed off all the ways this could make us rich... to which I rolled my eyes. And my mind just kept circling the loop of "those are my words!"

It took me a while to go to sleep, trying to decide on the appropriate reaction/action. I, of course, sent messages out to some of my most trusted friends. Finally, settled on the fact that by morning I'd have some good advice to follow, including that of a lawyer/friend, I fell asleep.

The next morning, I sent a fb message to the author who had posted the graphic letting him know that the poem belonged to me and asking him to either take the graphic down or put my name on it. I referenced my blog post and also the notebook were I had originally jotted the poem down one day in Sunday School. He immediately took it down. He was very gracious about it, apologized even. He even helped me think of ways to tackle the situation, how to track down the graphics creator, gave me the suggestion of creating my own memes and also offered to add my poem in his upcoming book about moving forward so that I could have a published source to point people to. Again, very gracious.

The lawyer/friend, okay my friend whose husband is a lawyer, suggested I google the poem itself and see if anything popped up.  WOW!  Mind=BLOWN! 142,000,000 hits. Did you catch that? One-hundred and forty-two million hits.

The poem was everywhere: being sold on Etsy as both vinyls and already made signboards and also printed on t-shirts; there were hundreds of thousands of memes and other graphics; someone was using it to promote their own book; I found a radio broadcast/blogsite that had dedicated an entire 1 hr radio show to the breakdown of the poem. I was totally freaking out.  Almost every site claimed the author was unknown. A few named random people responsible for the words. Some had made memes of it copyrighted it to their website. I was both infuriated and humbled. But, the question was: How would I ever reclaim my words?

It was like someone had stolen a piece of my soul, repacked it and sent it out into the world. I felt violated and so naked. I felt robbed of my vulnerability. I had to do whatever I could to reclaim what was mine. After all I wrote it in the first place as a form of reclamation. I couldn't bear to have it stripped away from me.

I started by commenting on various sites were memes were posted, posters were being advertised, even contacted the radio show personality, asking them all to either put my name to the poem, or take it down, pointing them to my blog post as proof that I had written the poem.  One lady kept deleting my comments on her meme, so I kept reposting  and then I emailed her a few times for good measure. Dang it! Those are my words.

Then a funny thing happened. After literally hours of clicking on every hit that google brought up, probably after going through at least ninety different pages where the poem was quoted, I found a blog dated February 12, 2009. Wait. What?

The next hit brought up a post from April 2011. The next November 2008. The next August 2012. All of them dated before I had even written the poem, let alone put it on my blog. How in the hell world?

Suddenly, my life was the Twilight Zone. I called down to my husband insisting he come up to talk to me. I showed him the aforementioned sites. "Tell me I'm not going crazy? Tell me I'm not having a psychotic breakdown."

He just looked at me.

"Seriously. I remember every detail about writing this poem. I remember sitting in church thinking about agency and wanting to take control of my life. I remember thinking 'what is it that I really want? What do I choose for myself?' I remember tuning out the lesson and really pondering what I wanted... I wanted to be free. More than anything I just wanted my life to be my own. I remember why I chose each word specifically. I remember why I wrote that I choose to be motivated and not manipulated. I grew up in a sea of manipulation. It was drowning me. I didn't want that anymore. How is this possible? How does something like this happen?" I demanded. "I remember. I know I wrote this."

At that point, I started to cry.

My dear husband hugged me a said, "Honey if you remember writing it, then I'm sure you did. There are all kinds of hackers out there, maybe they just fudged the dates on their blogs so they could take the credit." I knew he was wrong.

I also knew I was right. I had written those words. I just couldn't explain what was happening. For at least three hours I thought to myself: I'm going to end up in a strait jacket by tomorrow.

Then my sister called me. At some point, in my hours of tidying up my life in preparation for the nut house, I'd sent out more messages to my trusted friends and family letting them know that I was obviously crazy or something, explaining my Twilight Zone moment.  My sister did some of her own research. She found cryptomnesia.

Cryptomnesia-- occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a song, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration.

My whole world went numb. For the first time in over 15 hours, my heart slowed, my breathing evened out, my head stopped swimming. Everything was quiet.

I need to be clear, I, in all honesty, have no recollection of reading this poem at any point in my life. This whole situation still feels so surreal. I can't comprehend it. That must be what happened, but... all I remember is writing those words from the depths of my soul. This manifesto, as I called it, still feels very much mine, a vital piece of me, a transformative catalyst for my healing. In the end, however, my magnificent brain simply provided me with the exact words I needed in the exact moment I needed them. How amazing is that?

In researching this phenomenon, I read that a similar incident happened to Helen Keller and that she was so traumatized by it that she never could bring herself to write fiction again. Not that she couldn't allow herself, she just literally couldn't do it. I completely understand that. To create something you feel so enmeshed in, that feels so a part of you, only to discover it never really belonged to you is perhaps the most unsettling thing I have ever experienced. I feel so empty.

Nevertheless, I have no intention of not writing every day for the rest of my life. And even though I didn't originally create this poem, the moment I wrote it in my notebook it became a very tangible part of me and I'm a better woman for it. I can't possibly begrudge or regret that.

There is a theory that there is no such thing as an original thought. That all ideas are created by other thoughts and ideas that we have absorbed from others. I guess it's true.

However, C.S. Lewis has said, "Even in literature and art no man that bothers with originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without having noticed it."

So... I think I'll just Keep Calm and Write On!

*Also, I'll be writing apologies to everyone I slandered/threatened/or called out for plagiarism during my brief psychotic break. As you do.

Monday, July 7, 2014

scene 16: Angel of Death

I adore writing prompts. They kind of help silence all the distractions and free of my head space for real writing. And there's no pressure. No need to write a novel or some great discourse, just write anything. So liberating.

I was recently given the following writing prompt:
When I finally realized that death was imminent, one thing because perfectly clear.

Here is what I came up with:

When I finally realized that death was imminent, one thing became perfectly clear. I was happy.

I’d long ago given up the illusions that I could know what was on the other side of death, that the unknowing was something to fear. There was a certain liberated peace that came with letting that particular quest for knowledge go. 

It was a relief to be at the end of things. No more days of torture. No more nights of agony waiting for non-existent solace. Death is freedom. Why would I be anything less than joyful?

I looked him in the face, as he came for me. He was different than I had supposed. This was no creature of the night, draped in black and steeped in shadows. This was a man of light. His very countenance glowed. His eyes were the green-gray of highlighted leaves. He smelled of sunshine, sand and saltwater spray. He was deliverance. Perhaps, as it happens with so many of us, his appearance is merely a reflection of our feelings for him? 

He was my emancipator; he was beautiful. I embraced him, nuzzled my nose in his neck as he cradled me in his arms. He held me tight and then, he took me home.