Tag Archives: writing

Writer Wednesdays … Fan Battles, BS-Ometers, and Nooks & Crannies

1 Feb

When you decided to pursue your passion a twist came at the end of it … Along the journey and after all the obstacles, you ended up seeing what was behind the giant curtain.

Through the discovery, some of the mystery disappeared.

How is the doctor different when she’s a patient? How is the lawyer different when she’s a client? How is the teacher different when he’s the student? How is the pitcher different when he is the batter? How is the writer different when she is the reader?

Yup. Perspectives change when you’re on the other side.

As a writer this question has been posed to me before.

Like the doctor, lawyer, pitcher, and teacher, the writer becomes more aware of the approach and of the details. We  give our fellow writer the benefit of the doubt, but don’t walk blindly into the story.

We just pay attention more. We can smell the BS when it surfaces and tries to camouflage itself as substance. I feel like my BS-ometer has gotten better throughout the years. You notice things that others might not, even with the most avid readers, you still have an edge because you’ve been behind the scenes.

But aside from having a finely tuned BS-ometer,  I get into the nitty-gritty of it with characters. I’m in the nooks and crannies. Characters are big for me, whether it’s from a book or on a television show. Characters are what make it happen for me. Story and plot are intriguing, they peak my interest, but characters are what make me stay all the way to the end. I pay attention to how the character mattered to this writer and how they developed. I’m constantly on the look-out for that A-HA! moment and see how the character responds. Is it the way I thought she would?

When the character becomes so amazingly great that it changes me from a writer into a fan, that’s a job well done by the creator. It’s hard for me to watch series finales sometimes because the fan in me battles the writer in me. Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, LOST, 24, The Closer … all of these had me on the edge of my seat for the series finales and as a writer, I battled with the fan inside of me.

The fan roots for the underdog and the happy ending, but sometimes as a writer you just know … you know that can’t happen because it’ll betray the story and the character’s intention.

Being a writer, enhanced the reading and watching experiences for me. I see the strings being pulled and think wow how amazingly awesome that they pulled this off, or when I’m disappointed I think, man there could have been a better way. The fan and writer constantly battle each other when the stories are good.

Some people may think it works against them to know what’s coming, to know how the pieces are being moved. I just think it makes you pay attention more, makes you look at the decisions being made and if you end up becoming a fan … well then, once a fan, always a fan maybe even a die-hard fan.

 

 

Happy Wednesday

 

 

It’s The Fourth Quarter

1 Dec

I’m just gonna close my eyes for a minute. That’s what I told myself. Just for a minute. That was on Monday and Wednesday night.

Just for a minute.

The power of sleep … it pulls me in like The Force, especially on cold nights when the warmth of the fuzzy blanket and fuzzy socks comforts me and the weight of parenthood makes my eyelids heavy. The click-clacking of my keyboard has been cold this week on the Word Press front, but the ideas are still swirling in my head and I’ve got a whole month before the year is done, so there’s still time.

It’s the fourth quarter, I always did well in the fourth quarter. So time to step it up a notch. One more shot before the buzzer rings. One last effort to put it all out there on the page. But I’m finding that this little philosophy is going to stretch its wings beyond my keyboard. I’m finding inspiration in lectures, speeches, and shows I hadn’t heard and seen before. Words that touched my heart because they were genuinely spoken.

You look to be humble and kind in your quest, and practice gratitude before you rest. You look to give it 100%, whatever 100% looks like that day. You look to rest your head on the pillow when the moon is out, and find that you have no regrets because you were kind and compassionate today.

Those are the kind of insights you need when it’s the fourth quarter, when you’re looking back on your plans or the bucket list adventures that you set out to conquer in January. You find your inner Clark Griswald as the holiday season comes around and you string up those lights because you believe in a better perspective.

It’s the fourth quarter and believe in silver lining playbooks.

Game on.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

The Price is Right and The Universe Keep The Dream Alive

19 Feb

The Universe was conspiring with me that day, and strangely enough it used The Big Wheel from the Price is Right as its messenger.

It’s possible. That’s all you’ve got to say … it’s possible. When you lose perspective and the dream seems far away … it’s possible. When you’re stuck on a sentence and can’t find your way to the end … it’s possible. When you can’t find encouragement for your dreams within a five-mile radius … it’s possible. That’s all you’ve got to say and believe in order to get out of the dark.

I was slowly meditating on this message all morning, trying to get pumped up for a day of writing and editing and dreaming up book covers when it happened.

I turned on the T.V. I usually don’t turn it on when I’m working, it’s just not productive, but I wanted to listen to the smooth jazz station as I wrote, and so when I turned it on there it was …

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I hadn’t seen Bob Barker or heard the famous come on dowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn since I was in junior high, or high school. But for some reason I had sat down because apparently there was a spin off going on and Drew Carey was explaining how if they landed on 5 or 15 they’d get $5,000 but if they landed on the 1oo they’d get $10,000 and the car, something like that. It was big.

So I had to watch.

First guy didn’t do it, ended up with 20.

However when the second guy’s spin began slowing down and tick, tick, ticking inching it’s way closer to the green and red numbers I became so invested in this dude’s luck. I was like … it’s possible. I was hoping for it.

It’s possible, right?

He landed on 100 and everyone exploded with excitement.

The universe is a trip.

I know there’s luck and statistics going on there, but that whole Price is Right spinoff so strengthened my belief in the “it’s possible” mantra. I finished my project that day and stayed on the positive tip for the rest of the evening.

 

 

 

Imaginary Friends Rock

11 Jan

It never fails.

I mean I know I’m not there, all glitzed out but it’s still very much a big part of my night. Although I don’t really care about all the glitz, I’m more about the substance. I’m more about all the times things didn’t work out, where failure happened, where you had to peel yourself off the floor, where they said ‘no, it’s not gonna happen,’ more times than you can count … but then you tried anyway.

That’s where it clicks for me, when there’s someone or some moment that reveals that climb.

It happened again last night when I saw Rocky himself take the stage to accept his Golden Globe.

I never met him, he has no idea I exist but I was inspired as I saw this underdog take the stage, and I guess so were his colleagues as they gave him a standing ovation. When you see someone whose worked so hard to get where they are and then get recognized for it, that just fills you with happiness for them, and hope for yourself.

He thanked those that helped get him there, but one person in particular stood out.

“… Most of all I want to thank my imaginary friend, Rocky Balboa, for being the best friend I ever had.” — Sylvester Stallone

I smiled because I knew exactly what he meant.

I had a great one growing up, was pretty awesome at playing Lite Brite with me. And now I still travel with all kinds of characters and hope to bring their stories, their A-ha! moments to life.

So after seeing Stallone, I got back to dreaming, got back to my computer and got back to typing away.

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Tune-Ups Are Necessary Because UGH-Moments Exists

20 Nov

“Self-judgement is based on unreality.” — Deepak Chopra

 

Say what?

I had to hear that a few times before it actually made sense. Sometimes ideas are so deep that I need to take a minute. Several of them if they hit me with this early in the morning.

As a writer I’m totally guilty of self-judgement. As a mom … duuuuuude happens a lot. And sometimes it doesn’t even have to do with writing or motherhood could’ve been love, family, career, spirit, life, NanoWrimo, a conversation, parallel parking. Anything can make you feel bad, if you let it.

And then Deepak spoke and I heard it.

Judgement is based on decisions or moments that happened in the past, those UGH-moments that you just can’t shake off. Still thinking about the five minutes, five days, five weeks, or five months ago situation. Sometimes they still play in my head like a rerun and you can’t seem to change the channel.

But again, I was reminded of something I learned a while back, something to help me flip the switch. Being a work in progress. That’s me, so I snapped out of it. I realized the person I was five weeks ago isn’t the same person I am today. I’m under construction and sometimes I get help. The universe tends to bless me with the grace, imagination, or gratitude I need in order to get through life’s little moments where I’m lacking perspective and patience. Other times it leads me to Yogi teas, Ben & Jerry’s, a punching bag, and Netflix.

So I continue to progress, and remember to be present, because it’s hard to judge myself about the past if I’m focused on the right now.

The Present! For the most part I thought I lived my life enjoying “the moment,” and being present. But now that I hit the big 4-0 I realized I could’ve done it a bit more.

“The road to happiness starts with a deep breath and an awareness of the many blessings tied to that single breath.” — Richelle E. Goodrich

Being on this meditation kick has really helped make that a part of my lifestyle. At first it was just tough trying to make it a habit, but now it’s just become a part of daily living.Whether I’m enjoying a football game on the couch, eating the best piece of chocolate cake ever, hanging out with friends, blogging, or skydiving, whatever it is I’m in the moment. I enjoy it, I appreciate it, and then I’m grateful for it happening.

This whole spiritual and self-compassion cleanse was a good reminder. Weekly tune-ups are necessary because bad days, jackasses, and UGH-moments happen daily.

Buen Camino people!

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I Had Gotten My Spark

26 Oct

I thought there would be fireworks and it would be magical. 

I’d built it up to be such a great thing because I’d gotten so much out of the book… but being stuck in traffic, parking way across campus, and showing up 20 minuted late really seemed to fizzle things out. Nothing was going according to plan…
I had met her when my life was in shambles, Telenovela shambles … the kind where you wish you weren’t the main character because everything was so jacked up but it turned out that when you looked in the mirror you were that character, you were in shambles. 

Yeah that was me some years ago, and  I found such comfort and Aha! moments in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love novel that it helped me transition through such a tough time. Going through that with her words swirling in my thoughts and settling in my heart, I’d expected that same transformational lightning-bolt moment to happen again. But the two hours in traffic seemed to take the umph out of the lightning.

Sadly … I’d missed the opening. I hate missing anything, I’m the kind of person that gets to the movies early just to enjoy the previews, I don’t like missing the Oscars monologue, I don’t like missing beginnings, they sort of set the tone for everything else. So missing out on the first half of anything, especially this speech was kind of a downer. 

But just then and there as I walked into the auditorium, sweaty and hair in desperate need of a hat or some Aquanet hairspray, I saw her and gratitude kicked in. I wasn’t focused so much on what I had lost, on how far I had parked, on the disasterous traffic, or what nugget of Big Magic I had missed, but I was centered on my gratitude.

 I had caught the second half. 

I mean in sports that’s when things matter, the second half. That’s when Hail Marys are thrown and the crows go wild. In books that’s where thing matter, in the second half. So as I stood there in the aisle leaning against the pillar I focused in on that voice I had heard so many times before in the Magic Lessons podcasts, and it appeared.

The spark.

I came away with two great take-home moments from stories that seemed to resonate with the writer and creative force inside me.  Great lines that made there way into my morning routine and do t-give-up inner dialogue.

And even though after the lecture ended the bad luck continued, I still found gratitude. The line was long for the book signing, and even though the chick in front of me took longer than she was supposed to and stole my moment with Gilbert making her posse quickly usher me away after she signing my book, I still felt good.

I had gotten my spark.

 I had gotten my take-home moments … two of them and I was thankful for the mini lesson.

  

Warning: Sometimes Profanity is Involved

21 Sep
:)

🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I’m All About Closure

20 May

I guess I was in a state of … this is it? And it took me about 48 hours to adjust to that reality with plenty of chocolate to assist in the matter.

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Image via AMC.com

Image via AMC.com

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And it wasn’t a bad kind of reality, but a dude-it’s-over-kind-of-a-way reality. You’ve invested eight years in this dude and you want to be able to see him through this, to be able to part ways and feel like everything will be all right.

I couldn’t believe it had finished because it was such a big part of my Sunday evenings, and I was hoping for an amazing ending, for closure, for an awesome Breaking-Bad-Sons-of-Anarchy-The-Wire kind of ending without deaths. But things tend to be more subtle in Don Draper’s world.

The future was left in the hands of a Coke commercial with plenty of room for interpretation, Sopranos-style if you will. Although the lives of some characters were wrapped up nicely. Pete’s growth throughout the series culminates with a happily ever after, while Joan once again suffers a breakup, but it doesn’t break her. She makes it on her own by creating Holloway & Harris, the best of both her worlds.

But the ending that surprised me was Peggy’s, I didn’t think the creators would give her love. But she found both love and career, and for some reason that revelation made me giddy.

All these character endings made me think of my own writing, and the type of endings I write for my stories and for the characters that live there. I realized, I’m not big on leaving things up for interpretation. I like to leave lives wrapped up with a strong indication of what the future holds. Uncertainty doesn’t sit well with me in series finales, movies, or books. I want to feel like I know, or even have an inkling, as to how things are going to go for my character. I don’t like leaving things up in the air.

Life is up in the air.

I’d like my stories to be better than that.

I’m all about closure. It helps me sleep better, especially when I’ve connected to the character and feel like a part of me, is like a part of him or her. The connection is what drives me as a fan, and a writer. So if I had to pick sides I guess I’d be all about closure. It sits well with me, feels right to know.

What about you? What’s your side?

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