Tag Archives: writers

The No, Boundaries, and Staying On The Yellow Brick Road

18 Oct

I’ve known about the power of “no,” for a long time.

As a  writer, I’ve heard it at least a million times. No we don’t want your book, no we don’t want your story, no it’s not what we’re looking for at this time.

As a mom trying to figure things out in the Mommy-Mafia world I’ve learned to pull it out plenty of times. I say it constantly to die-hard PTA boosters trying to corral me into a time-consuming saga. I know the power of “no,” when it comes to money and things being out of my budget. I know the power of “no,” when my kids want their millionth got-to-have-it Lego as we’re buying a birthday present for someone else.

It’s in my vocabulary. I know I own it. But sometimes when it comes to setting boundaries … the “no,” doesn’t quite make it’s way to the top of the list.

Now when I put others at the top of my priorities and I’m working on a project for them, I have no problems zoning things out and saying no to distractions, procrastination, and toxic encounters that are gonna take my juice away. If I gave my word to help someone out, either with a grant, volunteer work, or just my time, I make it happen. I sacrifice and say no to things so that I can be there for that person. I say no to sleeping in, I say no to just grabbing a quick coffee with someone that winds up being an entire afternoon, I say no to Netflix, I say no to Stephen Colbert.  It’s painful, but I have to do it. I gave my word.

I set boundaries for myself so that I could come through for others. But when I try to do that for myself … the “no,” is nowhere to be found.

Standards fall short and deadlines are always extended. It’s sad because the power of no is sometimes stronger when other people are counting on me. But I realized that I should hold myself to the same standard I give to others. I’m more relaxed when it comes to me, as I can always say … well, I can pick it tomorrow.

Sad to say that sometimes this happens more than it should. I’m trying to get better at it. I’m trying to be stricter with my own boundaries when it comes to writing. I’m trying to hold myself to those deadlines. I’m trying to give myself the same amount of respect without feeling guilty about doing it.

I’ve been trying to finish the rewrite and edits of my book for some time now, but for some reason other projects or grant writing comes along and since I had offered to help the obligation to keep my word to someone else becomes stronger than the promise I kept to myself, and then I feel bad about the broken promises and then the sense of failure spirals into anger with myself and then frustration. But I reboot, and then say I’m gonna try again tomorrow and then the cycle happens over again.

But I was recently reminded by a soulful friend that sometimes the most important promises should be the ones you keep to yourself, and if there are friends, or people that call themselves friends, out there not in support of your dream then they don’t have to be on this ride with you. They can just get off the bus. She reminded me that I need the same power of “no,” that same commitment that I apply to fitness, exercise, and health to my writing and other parts of me. I’m on a roll when it comes to health, it matters because it’s not just for me. It’s beyond me. I don’t do it for the outfits or a smaller pair of pants. I do it to stay healthy and live longer for my kids. The purpose is bigger than me.

She said I need that same “no,” those same boundaries, that same sense purpose for other things in my life. Spread the no. You can leave the dream killers behind.

There is no need for the digs and back-handed comments  from other voices when you’re already in doubt yourself. You’re in need of back-up singers who are going to lift you up on stage. You’re in need of people who understand the “no,” and don’t make you feel guilty or bad about it. You’re in need of a realization that you are a priority and the same standards of deadline apply to you that you have for yourself when others are counting on you. The power of no applies to your dream quest as well. You’ve earned it.

So while you’re on the yellow brick road, bring the power of “no,” with you. It will help keep you on the path and keep the boundaries up. Boundaries are important.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Uncovering Great Stories …

24 Apr

Celebrating words and their magical effect on our lives under the California sun created a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

Every year, we find our way through the mazes of people and books to create our own weekend adventure. Sometimes the moments are simple, other times they’re exciting fireworks style encounters, either way we always look forward to this book lover’s tradition.

We look forward to what this festival will uncover. Sometimes it’s all about meeting a special author, other times it’s about discovering a new story, or running into my kid’s favorite super hero, sometimes it’s about exploring the science stations, or cooking demonstrations, and sometimes it’s about witnessing a great performance on stage. This weekend we were lucky enough to experience it all, although the Caped Crusader was missing … probably solving a crime though.

It was our yearly outing to the Festival of Books and the fact that we didn’t have a meltdown definitely ranked as a Top-10 Outing.

But the one special surprise that snuck its way into our hearts was discovering The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now if you know anything about kids, you know that rock, paper, scissors is a major tie-breaker decision maker around here. So when we uncovered the origins of this very funny story, mom scored some points. If you have kids I strongly encourage you to read this one. The fact that we met the author and got it signed? Mom got a high-five for that one. The fact that we got four of our books signed? Yup. It was chocolate time.

So as I sat there on the grass, under a tree, listening to the band on the nearby stage, unloading our reading treasures and eating the goods from our homemade picnic, I thought … definitely a moment to be captured on film. Definitely a moment to be grateful for … definitely a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

 

IMG_8081

The Adventure begins …

IMG_8069

Checking out some authors …

 

IMG_8039

Hitting the stage to rock some children’s music …

IMG_8072

I loved checking out this wall … can you find ours?

 

IMG_8058

My kids thought this would be a great book for me …

 

IMG_8050

I decided to pick that up plus a couple of freebies 🙂

IMG_8086

We stopped by to spread some kindness during our book loving tour …

IMG_8067

Before departing we left our mark on the wall of books …

IMG_8085

Our awesome loot at the end of the day …

Yup … it was a 10 out of 10. High five mom.

 

 

The Universe Conspires and Celebrates With Me

21 Nov

This is not a Manic Monday, but a I’m-bottling-it-up-today-Monday.

After a horrendous two weeks mourning the future of our nation, something great happened in my neck of the woods. And just when I thought I’d be the only one celebrating The Universe decided to join me by blasting four feel-good songs in a row. Even though my NanoWrimo efforts will not hit the 50,000 mark, I did hit my mark with a new project and it will be hitting the stage next year.

I was ecstatic to hear the news and pleased that November wouldn’t necessarily be a total writing failure. There is some success on the page, which I welcome with open arms. I was glad to hear that the universe was still “conspiring” with me.

It felt so great that I wanted to bottle it up. The Universe conspiring with me … sometimes I forget that happens because of all the crappy stuff. But things like today remind me of those wheels working.

You see, when I first heard that phrase about the universe, 15 years ago when I read Paolo Cohelo’s The Alchemsist, it definitely stuck with me. Back then I wasn’t a sign-looker, I wasn’t searching for confirmations that I was on the right path. I hadn’t looked for signs when it came to things like that. But I was so glad to have come across that phrase. It changed my trajectory, placing me in the reach-even-higher-for-your-dreams category. The No-Half Measures category.

And during this universe-conspiring process, I found out that if you’re honest, really honest, trimming away the bullshit from your story, whether it’s humor, drama, tragedy, sports, or coming-of-age, people respond. They connect with truth. Good things tend to happen on the page when you make this connection.

And they did happen and the universe decided to celebrate with me in the car.

It’s Monday people. Motivation Monday. I’m feeling it.

Hope these feel good songs help you feel it too.

Borderline — Madonna

 

 

It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me — Billy Joel

 

 

Styain’ Alive — Bee Gees

 

 

 

 

Talking in Your Sleep — The Romantics

 

Don’t Stop — Fleetwood Mac

 

 

 

 

Duuuude I’ve Finally Found The Words To Replace Profanity … Maybe

28 Oct
:)

🙂

.

.

The Miracle Girl is Out

8 Jul

It’s amazing what someone can accomplish in a couple of years. Some people binge watch on Netflix, some people lose 100 pounds, some people get married, some people get divorced, some people have families. Some people write books.

Everybody has the same amount of time, just got to figure out what you want to do with it.

Every one has got a year.

What’s your passion? What are you going to do with your year?

I’ve got all kinds of things planned, but today I’m here to talk about my buddy, TB Markinson’s passion and her awesome year. Other than traveling the world bit by bit, finding the best pubs Europe has to offer, TB is also a writer. She’s hooked on it, and she’s pretty good at it. This week she released her sixth, yeah I said it … sixth novel! She’s definitely found her passion and she definitely knows how to make the best of her time. I’m definitely inspired by her as a writer and hope to get my first one out there.

So in honor of this accomplishment I’m out here trying to spread the word and give you a sneak peek of her novel, as well as some insight into her creative mind.

This is T.B. Markinson

TheMiracleGirl (1)

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? When did it click for you?

Way back in the dinosaur age, when I was in the sixth grade, our teacher asked each of us to write a story about Christmas. Usually I hated homework, but this assignment inspired me. To get in the mood, I sat by our Christmas tree in the dark except for the bubble lights and I penned my story. My teacher loved it and wrote a note at the top that read: You should be a writer when you grow up.

That was it. Ever since then I’ve wanted to write stories. Not just about Christmas, though.

.
Your books are filled with strong female leads, what characteristics do you like about them, which ones are you drawn to, compelled to write about? What makes you want to write their story?

I find it easier to have female leads since it’s easier for me to relate to them, for the obvious reason that I am a female. At some point, I think it would be interesting to have a strong male lead, but I worry about creating a realistic portrayal of the opposite sex.

All of my female leads are flawed. That’s why I find them fascinating. I’m not a fan of “perfect” characters. They aren’t realistic, really. I like to get to know my characters to uncover what makes them the way they are.

You’re big on GoodReads, what kind of books/stories do you enjoy reading? What are you reading now?

I know some people stick to one genre, but I’ll read just about anything, including loads of nonfiction, fiction, journal articles, and newspapers. I studied history in college and I still buy and read books many wouldn’t even notice when walking through a store. I do read lots of fiction, though. My faves are classics, but I’ll read anything from steampunk to romance. I only require one thing from novels: a good story. It can take place on the moon, in a prison, in the past, in the future, or in Timbuktu for all I care. Just as long as it entertains me.

I tend to have several books going at once. Currently, I’m reading The Bully Pulpit, which is about Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, The Renaissance of Hetty Lockler, a young adult paranormal book, and White Teeth by Zadie Smith.

Which one of your characters would you hang out with for a drink? Why?

I would like to hang out with JJ Cavendish, but probably wouldn’t take her out for a drink since she’s a recovering addict. In her younger days, JJ was a travel writer and I’d love to hear about her travel stories. And she has way of embellishing her stories.

.
Now with all these books under your belt how has your writing process changed, or has it stayed the same? What has been the difference between your first book (journey from writing to getting published) and your most recent release? What was easier? What was more challenging?

My writing process keeps changing, and that’s due to life. When I was working on my first novel, I was still working full time, so I worked when I could find the time and energy. After my partner’s company moved us from the US to London, I starting writing full time. It’s nice to have more time to write, but it also makes it more stressful. Now I don’t have excuses for not getting the next project done.

What’s easier and what’s more challenging? That’s hard to answer, because it depends on the day. Some days I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two from my editors, other authors, and from reviews. Other days I want to run screaming for the hills. I can experience a range of emotions within seconds. When creating something from scratch and knowing strangers will have a chance to weigh in, well it’s an intimidating experience.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give the TB who was writing her first novel, A Woman Lost?

I think I’d give the same advice I give people now: Don’t give up. I think that’s the key to most things in life. Just to keep going even when things are tough. It’s totally a cliché, but it works.

Now talking about The Miracle Girl, how’d you get the idea for this book? When did it come to you? What part of this novel writing process was difficult/challenging and how did you get over it? 

 When I started writing The Miracle Girl, I only knew one thing: the main character had a secret. I didn’t know JJ’s secret, but I was intrigued by her right from the start. As I got to know her, I realized she was an alcoholic and an addict. This was challenging for me since I’m not. Heck, I’ve never even smoked pot. I had to do a ton of research, which included reading, movies, documentaries, and pestering people about their experiences. Thanks to all of those who put up with my questions. Even the lame ones.

.

Now that you’ve published The Miracle Girl, what’s next for you? Blog Tour? Taking a break? Working on ideas for your next book? 

 Each time I publish something I think about taking a break, but my mind keeps churning out ideas and characters I want to explore. So right now, I’m working with one editor on a novel and another editor and I are fine-tuning a short story. In my free time, I’m drafting a sequel to my third novel. Gosh it sounds exhausting. Maybe I should take a break, but I love what I do. That’s the key: enjoying writing at least half of the time. The other half I’m slamming my head against the keyboard crying, “Why?”

TB’s new book The Miracle Girl is on sale on Amazon. I hope you go out and buy a copy.

Here’s a sneak peek…

Newspaper publisher and world traveler JJ Cavendish continually feels pressured to live up to her Miracle Girl nickname. Not many people know she’s living a carefully crafted lie. She may not hide ties to the LGBT community, but she does hide past struggles with addiction.

When the Colorado native is handpicked to take the helm at a dying Denver newspaper, she ends up reconnecting with her long lost love in this contemporary lesbian romance. Only there’s a catch. If JJ fires the most belligerent editor at the paper, she risks losing the love of her life.

Mid-afternoon office romps abound in this romantic comedy while also focusing on what it takes for a newspaper to remain relevant in this age of social media.

Must JJ lose everything in order to gain a life more fully her own?

Doesn’t that make you want to buy it?

If you’re interested in this novel, or any of her other works you can find them on her Amazon page as well.

.

.

November’s Epic Failure is December’s Woo-Hoo Moment of the Year

30 Dec

I high-fived myself in the dark and then had a Will-Smith-Pursuit-of-Happiness moment … the one in the end … where he claps for himself in the middle of a crowd, and it’s that hard clap, the I-got-emotion-behind-this-clap clap and he does this because he finally did it. He reached his goal.

Yeah.

I had me one of those in the dark last night at about one-something in the morning. The quiet of the night felt good. I was awake. Awake with happiness, or that could have been the last hour of my 5-hour energy drink kicking in.

Either way I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing, because I had failed so miserably before.

50,000 words.

Woo-Hoo!

Woo-Hoo!

 

I had made it.

I finished my book.

Last month was the epic National Novel Writing Month adventure where writers from all over the States and the world sit down and write their guts out in an effort to reach 50,000 words in 30 days. I, like every other writer, contemplated this and then thought maybe … maybe.

Come November 7th I saw a tweet from a buddy of mine, Susie Lindau, who had posted her word count and then something funny about the whole situation. When I logged in and left her an encouraging comment she responded with a simple, “Are you doing it too?” And I thought, well holy crap, am I?

I had thought of just participating in my own way, not really signing up, but just making an effort to write everyday, as I had fallen off the wagon. But with Susie’s question, I thought yeah … yeah I am why not. I had set a goal earlier this year to finish my book and was no where near finished, and this NanoWrimo thing would definitely push me through.

No. It didn’t push me.

It didn’t.

It drove me into a crash and burn of failure.

And not just any failure … a writer’s failure.

With two kids under the age of seven and all of the duties and adventures that come from that I just didn’t make it. I didn’t have enough time, or energy. But then I thought there are people out there with full time jobs and three kids and they probably did it so it wasn’t about excuses it was just failure.

But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. After a week of stuffing myself with chocolate and swimming in the sad writer’s state of mind, I picked myself up, bought a Costco-sized case of 5-Hour energy drinks and decided I was gonna write my ass off until it was done. I got this! I told myself.

So while it took Nano Champions 30 days or less to cross the finish line … it took me about 60. And I was all right with that.

November’s epic failure turned into December’s Woo-Hoo moment of the year.

I felt like Rocky Balboa after he made it to the top and climbed his last step … but I know getting it published is a whole other journey, but I am just glad that I finally conquered this step.

Ecstatic.

It was surreal. Exciting. Gratifying. But still surreal.

It felt good to cross the finish line right before the New Year. I felt that all those sleepless nights fueled by 5-Hour Energy and those disastrous, painful mornings that nearly killed me because it required me to not only wake up, but actually function were worth it.

They were worth it.

50,000 words worth it.

Success feels good, and I celebrated … with chocolate of course.

 

 

 

At The End Of The Final Ride It Was Fan vs. Writer

10 Dec

Have you ever killed somebody and then regretted it later?

I mean you planned it for days, weeks … dude even months carrying out all the details, envisioning out all the scenarios, and trying to answer all the what-ifs in your mind. Trying to make the perfect plan.

And then you do it … it’s done.

At first you feel great about it … it had to be done, there’s no other way. But then something tugs at your heart, and it sits heavy on your chest. You begin second guessing yourself wondering, did that have to happen?

Yeah writers got problems.

As a writer I know where the story has to go and what the characters have to do in order to stay true to the life of the story, I know it. But sometimes the emotion of the fan inside me gets in the way and I struggle. But this tends to happen more while reading or watching someone else’s story, and not so much when it’s my own.

This is what happened last night during the two-hour series finale of the most dramatically intense Emmy-and-Golden-Globe-worthy show I’ve ever seen. But they have yet to receive one. It’s like that one great player that never got the championship ring.

Sons of Anarchy ended last night and I can’t even begin to tell you about how the finale made the fan and writer inside me feel. It was a a battle. Had that same feeling of mourning I did with the The Wire, Breaking Bad, LOST, 24, and Friday Night Lights.

Dude … if you haven’t caught up with all the Anarchy then you best stop reading …

“I’m sorry, JT. It was too late for me. I was already inside it. And Gemma … she had plans. But it’s not too late for my boys. I promise, they will never know this life. I understand who you are now. What you did. I love you, dad.” — Jax Teller

 

 

Did our hero have to die?

Yeah, I guess he did.

 

Kurt Sutter

Kurt Sutter

In true form, writing genius and creator Kurt Sutter had to keep the story honest, so yeah I guess Jax did have to end it. Jax arrived at the same crossroads his father, John Teller had come to years earlier. Only this time Jax was going to get it right.

“I realized a good father and a good outlaw can’t settle inside the same man.” — Jax Teller

 

The fan inside me was hoping there would be another way to keep him riding all the way until the end, just like I had wished for his best friend Opie and his wife Tara.

 

 

I was rooting for it. You know me, I love the underdog story. But the writer inside me knew the tougher choice needed to be made and the series had to end with his death. It was for the sake of the story. There was no other ending that seemed right and with that heartbreak came and engulfed me.

So with this crisis and epic sadness over the end of my favorite show and the death of Jax Teller, I began to wonder if other writers had the same issue. Do you ever struggle with that or is it just when watching other stories unfold?

Undergoing the loss of a character is a tough thing for both the fan and the writer in me, because he wasn’t just black and white. He was layered with complexities just like us … he was a good man within the criminal world. He was the good, the bad, and at times the ugly. But in the end he went out like a hero and made the ultimate sacrifice for his boys and for his club.

And even though I knew it was going to happen the fan in me hoped that it wouldn’t. But the writer understood and sadly I’m still all tore up over it. It was one hell of a final ride.

Don’t think I have enough chocolate for this one.

 

Hoping for Hope …

5 Dec

Waking up and looking forward to see what happens next.

That’s what happened this morning.

I know for some people that sort of thing comes natural, like breathing, but for some us we need to put a little extra umph in the situation … especially if you’re more of a night-time person.

Feel Good Friday started with an amazing story I read … something I haven’t finished yet so I’ll keep the details to myself until it’s done. As you all know I’m a slow reader so it may take a while, but I assure you the story is worth it. So when I get to the amazing finish I’ll be sure to clue you in. But for now …

Don’t want to spoil it.

But I will say it’s an underdog story and I’m enjoying the beginning.

In any case I woke up with that feeling. Sometimes I get it from my kids, sometimes I get it from a new Bucket List Adventure, or a race, other times it’s from a show, a movie, a book, a song or my hour-of power-clear-eyes-full-hearts morning routine, because usually anything can happen after that.

So I was grateful for the story, thankful that I had found another something to give me that feeling.

And it’s those somethings that help you through the days when you run into pint-size people or stressful situations. It’s difficult when you’re in the thick of it to think of anything positive, to think of what’s gonna happen next when you’re barely surviving what’s happening now. But I’ve learned that in those situations you hope for what’s gonna happen next just so that you can surpass the moment. And I think it’s that hope that brings the good back in Feel Good Friday. That’s what the story did for me and I think that’s what writing does too.

That’s what I get out of it. The possibility of what’s gonna happen next. Sometimes that creates a frustrating state of writer’s block, but other times things come together so well that hope finally lands on your shoulders.

So for this weekend writers, dreamers, and part-time adventurers I hope for hope.

Have a good one.

 

Ugh … This Can Be A Problem

3 Dec
Via despair.com

Via despair.com

 

 

Holy Crap! Reaching 700 … Definitely Thankful

28 Nov

This week everybody was giving thanks or showing some kind of gratitude for health, family, friends, turkey, Rolaids, football, Charlie Brown, scarfs, coffee, chocolate, or fifty-percent off your favorite sweater.

Everyone was finding something to be grateful for … was on a mission this week, and seeing how I start my Hour of Power workout sessions in the morning with a what-can-I-possibly-be-grateful-for-today session, I found it a little easier this year to focus on what I was thankful for this Thanksgiving season.

I was thankful that this was my first-year I didn’t find myself in a Rocky-style freezer/refrigerator having to inventory hundreds of free-range turkeys. Thankful I didn’t have to wear a back brace and buy Gold Bond Extra Strength hand cream normally used for Nordic Fisherman for my dry chapped hands.

But even though I was grateful for a warm freezer-free pre-Thanksgiving existence I was missing my Dad, missing our talks over his hot cup of coffee, missing the white aprons, missing the jokes, missing that he could count on me, and just missing him in general. But with all this missing I was still thankful that in the end I knew him well. In the end, he tried to be a better Dad and a better guy and I could call him my friend, my TV watching buddy, the laugher of my jokes, and the support system of my dreams.

 

My Dad back back in the days of the turkey rush.

My Dad back back in the days of the turkey rush.

 

I was thankful that I knew him. I was thankful that I could call myself Julio’s daughter.

This Thanksgiving I realized that even though he was gone, the support system of my dreams was still out there. My son believed in me and I imagine my daughter would too if she was old enough to understand what a writer did. A couple of my friends, my comadres, looked out for me and sent words of encouragement every now and then.

But aside from them cheering me on, I realized that every week I had people in my life that appreciated my sense of humor, got my stories, shared my struggle, watched some of the same shows I did, and supported my crazy writer’s dream. I realized that they were so supportive that I kept coming back again and again. So much so that I reached a milestone.

700.

Woo-Hoo!!!

Woo-Hoo!!!

 

Yup 700 posts and I couldn’t have done it without them.

My Word Press Community.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started this journey almost three years ago. I had hoped for certain things, but wasn’t sure if they would happen, stuff like a Julie & Julia journey with the same fairytale ending. And even though that didn’t happen I was happy about what did.

I found dozens of people in support of what I was trying to do, and I was extremely grateful for that, people that popped in and out of my life from different places around the world just to read what I had written. I had made a connection and met these people and I was a better writer and person for it.

So I wanted to thank all my followers out there jumping on this Guat train, but especially the ones that stalk me on a regular basis. We mutually stalk each other and formed our own community. So thanks to TBM over at the 50 Year Project and Making Your Mark, V over at Lame Adventures, my comedic relief Cayman Thorne over at Drinks Well With Others, Susie at Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride, Jackie over at Jackie Cangro, my music buddy over at Apple Pie and Napalm, Maria over at Brickhouse Chick, Baz over at The Landy, my buddy over at FitRecovery, my funny man over at OnePointPerspective, my inspirational friend over at CravesAdventure, my kind soul over at AnotherDayInParadise, my buddy over at This Man’s Journey, Andrea at The Hand Written Life, Krystal over at Unabashedly Poetic, and Kathryn over at Reinventing the Event Horizon.

You guys have all stopped by to read the bits and pieces of my life and said something encouraging, said something that connected, said something that kept me going … that helped me reach 700. I think my Dad would have thought that was pretty cool.

 

Thanks

Thanks

 

So in honor of my 700th post today, in honor of that milestone I thank you.

Chocolate for you all!