Well, I've done all I can. Move is published and as I wait for it to come through the various sales platforms there's not much left for me to do, except wait. I really can't do much until it's at least posted on Amazon, so ...
I need a break. And thank goodness I have the day off for President's Day today and can have it!
You know, there are a lot of stereotypes about writer's out there, none of which are true. For example, people assume we're rich. Oh, how I wish that were so. The truth is, the J.K. Rowlings and Steven Kings of the world are the exception rather than the rule. Most writers are writing their novels around home life and a full time job. Did you know that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein never quit their day jobs as professors? Nope, they wrote their books while working full time. It makes me feel better to know that even great writers of the past had to do it the same way I am - juggling the writing with the rest of life. Others are retired from other careers and can now write full time because they've "done their time," like P.D. James. So there's not big money in writing and even if there were enough money in it, you can't get a loan with only royalty payments coming in. Creditors want to see a steady income, a guaranteed paycheck. Plus there are other nuisances like insurance and retirement that you have to consider. So no, we aren't rich. In fact, it behooves us to have a steady job because life in the 21st century isn't friendly to the freelance lifestyle.
Another stereotype is that writing is easy. Oh, don't I wish. While story ideas do come to us easily, pulling them off is a trick. You have to make things believable, at least in theory, or readers will let you know in full surround sound stereo that "this couldn't possibly happen!" And then there go your book sales. I spent 6 months researching Splinter before I wrote the first word for National Novel Writing Month in 2010, and still had to do follow up research for rewrites and edits in later drafts. Likewise with Move - I researched and planned that novel for about 3 months before I started writing, and in fact was still doing some research as I wrote it. I had to diagram out Anywhere But Here to keep the parallel storylines straight, which was a challenge that gave me plenty of headaches. And I found myself running around and doing plenty of checking and researching while working on every draft of Blurry. I thought writing fiction would be less research than writing non-fiction, but honestly I think it's 6 of one and half a dozen of the other when it comes to research. You have to do it. You also have to keep going through to make sure you're maintaining consistency, which is an issue with anything you write. Add to that the fact that you're squeezing in writing with a full life, and no, it isn't easy. I'm lucky to have 2 hours a day to devote to writing. That's my absolute maximum, and I can't even have it every day because there are still chores, errands, home care, self care, husband care, and bird care that must be attended to. Life doesn't stop because you're writing a novel. It plugs right along, and it's very persistent in reminding you that it's there and needs tending to. Honestly, I don't know how people with children can do this, but plenty do. Where there's a will, there's a way. I make the best of my 2 hours when I get it, and I suppose they must know what blocks of time they have and how to handle them.
And the last stereotype is one that greatly amuses me. People think we lounge around the house in our pajamas, sipping coffee (or tea) and typing great prose all day. Well from the truths shared above, I think you see how that's impossible. My boss wouldn't be very happy if I lived like that because I am supposed to report to the office on Monday - Friday. My birds might like that if I took frequent play and feeding breaks, but after a while they tend to get screamy and want mommy to pay attention to them. I believe my husband and family would object to a hermit lifestyle. And even on weekends, there's always something that needs doing. Homes and cars need care and maintenance. It's like the joke running around on social media about Sunday being a day of rest - rest of the chores, rest of the errands, rest of the stuff I didn't get done Monday - Saturday! True. So true.
No, it's not easy being a writer, nor is it glamerous. There have been plenty of times when I asked myself if it's worth it to invest so much into shoving this into my life, but the answer always comes back to yes. I love writing and being an author has been a lifelong dream. And while it might not live up to the nice stereotypes, it's still worth it to have my work out there for readers to enjoy. The purpose of writing is to create stories that entertain and inspire people. The Lord has gifted me with these stories and I don't want to bury my talent. I want to share it with the world.
And yes, the work is worth it.
That's all today. Take care. I hope you have a great day. Enjoy the day if you're off. I need to get out there in the world and take care of all that stuff that piled up while I was working on getting Move published. The world is out there, and it's time I got engaged in it again.
We hope this digital letter finds you safe, healthy, happy, and enjoying a wonderful holiday season. In the spirit of the annual holiday letter, I thought it would be fun to share some of the highlights of the past year with you.
I know, this is a blog. You've been keeping up. But for the sake of those that don't like to log in twice a week for my ramblings, well, here's a summary:
Rick just wrapped up a 3 year term on church council at Mt. Tabor. He was heading up the IT committee and did a great job updating the website (which was his major project for his first year on council) and with keeping up staff technology needs. It did get to be a bit of a challenge this year, though. We lost both of our pastors this year - the head pastor left for a higher position with the Synod in March, and the associate pastor left to head up a congregation in Charleston, which is where he's from. It was tough losing them - and then major changes at Rick's job drastically altared his work situation, which has required more overtime work and made serving a bit more challenging. But he stuck in there and was determined to see his term through. We're very proud of him for hanging in there despite the challenges of the past few months, and for all he's done for the church. You can check out the church website that he designed at www.mttaborlutheran.org
Unfortunately, I had to quit both of my church committees. I had always planned to step down from the IT committee when Rick's term ended, but major changes in my own work situation and my writing picking up cut significantly into my spare time for volunteer activities. There are some things and events that I do hope to continue participating in, but right now being on a standing committee isn't something that's practical for me. It's a shame, too, because I enjoyed it and hated to give it up. Maybe in another season of life.
My work has picked up with additional duties. I'm now working with 4 licensure programs, and recent staff shortages have put more of a burden on remaining staff. I do finally have a window office, which is good (although I got the workload that came with it), and I'm also required to travel twice a year for the landscape architect program. Last year I attended the spring meeting in late February in Miami, and the national meeting in September in San Francisco. That trip to Miami was the first time I've ever flown! It's not bad, either. And while I'm not a big fan of travel, well, I'm hanging in there to see how it works out. The next meeting up is the regional meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona in March. We'll see. That's all I can say for now. Overall the job is good, although it has been very stressful lately. Our workload usually peaks in December (exam deadlines, plus people in a rush to get licensed to get projects in the new year), and being down a person has been hard. Hopefully, we'll fill that open position soon and things will level out. I'm off work until January 2, so hopefully some time with family, friends, and at home with Rick and the birds will do me some good.
My writing is also making progress. I published my second fiction novel, Anywhere But Here
, through Whiskey Creek Press in April. They offered me a contract for my third fiction novel, a sci-fi apocolyptic novel titled Splinter
, last summer. I'm already working on two writing projects now that I hope to wrap up in the spring. One is another mystery novel titled Move
. It's about a young woman that unknowingly makes a deal with a djinn (genie), but unfortunately his help is rather radical and leads to more problems than solutions. The other is a non-fiction book titled Feathered Frenzy
. It's basically a "quick reference guide" to give people tips on making their home and lifestyle bird-friendly. And believe it or not, I ALREADY have an idea for my next project. That one is still in a very early brainstorming stage. I'm not even considering working on that one more until I get my two current projects finished. I'm building an audience and working on many promotional things for my published novels. It's slow work, but worth it. I enjoy writing and I think going the "independent author" route was the right choice - especially with the traditional route going into decline as e-publishing picks up. I hope I hit the e-book wave at just the right time!
The birds are doing well. They'll be doing their own Christmas letter to you on their blog over at http://conurecorner.weebly.com
soon. Santa has big plans for them and I think we're going to have three very happy birdies in a couple of days!
Our families are doing well. Mom and Dad are staying busy, as usual. Mom had surgery for carpral tunnel last summer and I tell you, that's the fastest surgery recovery I've ever seen! She was back up and running in no time! Dad is still working. Retirement talk comes up from time to time, but no definite plans or timeline yet. I tell you, those design professionals - they love their work and don't like to retire! Stephen and Nicole are doing well too. Stephen's still keeping them straight as a department head at Public Safety, and Nicole is working at home in medical transcription. She graduated from a medical management program in the spring, but unfortunately she had to have surgery for diverticulitis shortly after graduation, so that was an unexpected hiccup in her life. But she's doing fine now and moving forward again.
Rick's parents are also doing ok. You know his father has dementia, so there are good days and bad days - that's just how it goes with that. They joined the Methodist church up the road last month. Our nieces and Rick's sister and brother-in-law are also doing well. We just got back from our Christmas visit with them in Greenville this morning. They stay busy with work, school, and activities - much like all of us.
And yes, in case any of you are wondering, I did complete my New Year's resolution of reading through The Bible again this year. I actually finished it in September!
Well, that's pretty much it. We are truly blessed and thank God every day for all that He has done for us and allowed us to do for others. We hope all of you are doing well and that life is being good to you. You know that everybody is welcome to visit this website and blog. I strive to update it at least twice a week. Some people have themes for their blogs and while the theme of this website is my writing, the blog isn't limited to that. In fact, I believe all of life inspires my writing, and this blog is open to anything and everything happening in life. Feel free to read, share, and pass it along to anybody interested, whether it's family, friends, readers, other writers, or anybody that's interested in how one writer's life inspires her tales!
Merry Christmas everybody! I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season and that your new year is filled with joy, peace and prosperity.
God bless and best wishes,
Rick and Sherri
Jana Lanning battles the demon of depression – literally! That’s the tag line from my latest mystery novel titled Anywhere But Here. Today, I’d like to tell you a little more about it.
I find it interesting that people never ask me if I’ve ever suffered from depression. I’m not sure why, because they’ve asked me plenty of questions about whether I experienced any of the things in my other novels, but this is a question I’m never asked. Maybe they know me well enough to know the answer to that question. Or maybe because even now, in the 21st century, there’s still a stigma around depression that causes people to avoid discussing it directly or speaking of it in hushed whispers and round-about terms. It’s funny that you can do a web search on “depression” and get tens of thousands of hits, but open conversation on the topic is still taboo. I still share the story about how I shut down a conversation on depression medications several years ago when I was asked what antidepressants I was on and I replied “none, I don’t have depression.” The entire conversation – which I found interesting because it was the first time I ever heard it openly discussed – shut down immediately. Three people finally opened up, but finding out there was one person present that didn’t face the same struggles stopped it cold. I was very disappointed in that, because I probably learned more about depression listening to that one conversation than I did during all fours of my undergraduate program in psychology. And such a golden opportunity hasn’t happened again.
I think that discussion was the catalyst for Anywhere But Here. I realized that lots of people suffer, but they fear talking about. I’ve personally known many people that struggled with depression, and they’ve been willing to talk to me privately about their struggles on many occasions. When I got the idea for this book, I approached many of them to ask about their struggles (including some of the ones who’s conversation I accidentally shut down) and they were willing to talk to me and answer any questions I had – but were explicitly clear that I was not to divulge their identity or to publically acknowledge that I even had the conversation at all in any way, shape or form. But if you’re writing a fictionalized account, they all said, then go for it and I hope people will read it and learn more about this disease.
I decided to go for it. The idea about a young woman who’s life plan falls apart is certainly a practical idea. Establishing yourself as an adult after leaving school isn’t easy, and don’t we all go through those seasons where an anvil is taken to our perfect life and we’re left to reassemble the pieces? Of course we do, and I knew these were things that everybody could relate to. The lead into depression is a natural result of such times, because if you have the disorder then it’s times like these that bring on the attacks.
Jana Lanning is a fictional character. There’s no Palmetto Beach, South Carolina and nothing that happened in that book is a reflection on any real events, people, or places in my life or anybody elses’ life that I personally know. But I believe the struggle she faces is universal. We all have those times when we can’t win, and we have to learn that the only one that can pick us back up is ourselves. Superheroes only exist in comic books and movies and television shows based on comic books. When it comes to reality, we are responsible for our own life and for finding the strength to fight the battles and bring forth victory. Other people can’t do it for us, and it’s dangerous to depend on others to hold you up or to be responsible for your happiness. They have their own responsibilities and will tend to that first – as well they should – and that doesn’t always work to our advantage. It’s up to us to take everything that happens in life and work it to it’s best in our own life.
Depression is tough because it tends to blind people to personal responsibility. They’re so down that they feel they need a hand getting up, but often they can’t see it when it comes. I recently read a quote on Twitter attributed to Mark Twain: “Opportunity is often missed because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” That’s 100% truth. We have to work for everything. We have to work to take care of ourselves and our responsibilities and when something goes wrong, we have to work to make it right. This is what makes the struggle so much harder for those with depression. The energy they have has been sucked up by the demon of
depression, and they don’t know how to rally to find what they need to work their way out of the pit.
The good news is that they can win. That’s the theme of this book. By personifying depression as a demon, I wanted to show that it is a living force at work against the mind, but it can be fought and beaten. You don’t have to live with it. You don’t have to submit to it. You don’t have to accept it as a way of life. But you do have to stand up and fight it – perhaps over and over, because it’s never cured, but it can be kept at bay if you how to handle it when it rears it’s ugly head. This demon, like all others, only has dominion over you if you allow it to rule your life.
In closing, I’d like to offer advice to those of you that don’t have depression, but have loved ones that do. It took me a long time to learn that there was nothing I could do to make it go away for them, or to make them happy. This is a battle that must be fought alone, and that’s a tough thing to accept when somebody you love and care about is struggling. Two things I can tell you about this: The first is that once I did consult with a therapist about
supporting people with depression, and the thing they stressed is not to accept depression as an excuse for anything or to shield people from the consequences of their actions. This is a battle they must face, but they’ll never learn how to defeat it if they don’t realize what its’ costing them. So don’t accept it as an excuse and don’t pass things off as “that’s just the depression talking/acting” because that keeps them incapacitated to this demon by passing a judgment on them that they don’t need to be subject to. They can recover and you need to act on the truth that they can find that strength and do it if they rally to beat it. The second thing is to keep on being yourself. Don’t put on airs, handle then with kid gloves, or walk on eggshells. Sometimes the best inspiration is to have the security of knowing the truth and learning to rely on it. Let them know you for who you really are and that they can count on unwavering support and stability in you.
It took tough breaks for Jana Lanning to take control of her life, and she certainly didn’t catch any breaks. The people around her expected her to step up and be responsible and even her friends went on with their lives and made it clear that while they were concerned and wanted to support her, they also had their own struggles to deal with. One interesting thing about this book is the question of who are the villains? The demon played the clash between expectation and reality to put Jana where he wanted her, but what about the people he used? Were they selfish people, or a product of the uncertain circumstances; people with their own struggles to get by? There was a lot of instability and uncertainty in the situations that arose, and people often jumped to what was easy over what was right. I’d love to hear feedback from readers on how they view Jana and the other characters in this book because it’s such a parallel to real life.
I hope that Anywhere But Here is a book that reaches and touches many people, because depression is a demon that touches us all. If you’re interested in reading it, check out the home tab on this website for links to purchasing it through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Whiskey Creek Press.
That’s all today. Enjoy your weekend and the Holiday Season!
I’m often asked if the things that happened to Jana Lanning in my recent novel, Anywhere But Here, actually happened to me. For those of you that haven’t read this novel, Jana Lanning, the protagonist, is denied admission to graduate school, finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, helps her best friend get married and move out of town, and has to settle for a job that she’s overqualified for – and all of this happens within two weeks of getting her undergraduate degree. Then to make things worse, the office where she works starts a merger with another firm and Jana finds herself on the wrong end of office politics that are the final straw in her battle with depression. The thing people seem the most interested in are the office politics. People want to know if the happenings at Dixon Financial are reflective of my job before it was transferred to a new agency a couple of years ago.
In response to that I’d say not entirely, but I can’t deny that some things that happened to me early in my career are reflected in people and events that take place in the book. I know that’s cryptic, but bear in mind two things: The people and events are fictionalized and that was accomplished through a mixture of my personal experiences, experiences I’ve seen and heard of from other people, and instances I’ve read about in books, magazines, news and other media. It came from a vast pool and I’ll admit that I had experience with being on the wrong end of office politics – heck, how could you write about it even from a fictionalized perspective unless you lived it in some way – but it’s also a universal issue that anybody working in an office environment is going to be on one end or the other of. And sorry folks, but there are probably going to be times when you find yourself on the wrong side, at least from the perspective of the majority.
My purpose in both writing Anywhere But Here and this entry isn’t to bash my former workplace. These things happened a decade ago, and I must admit that I said and did things that weren’t wise and didn’t lead to the best resolution in the situations I faced. I certainly learned from those experiences and in retrospect, I’m glad I learned those lessons early in life or I certainlywouldn’t be where I am now. The purpose is to share lessons learned, because this is something that I believe everybody in the workforce faces at some time. It makes you feel isolated and lonely when it happens, but the truth is that you aren’t alone. Lots of people face it but few talk about it because frankly, it’s embarrassing.
I used to think that people playing office politics were selfish jerks that like to hurt people, but experience has shown me that it actually grows from a root of fear. People that play with power are insecure and doubt their own ability, so they create an elaborate game of turning people and things to their advantage. I’ve found that there are 2 good ways to identify a person that is likely to use power to their advantage:
1.They cling tightly to cliques that are made up of people that are higher on the chain of command than they are; and
2.They don’t associate with anybody on the chain of command below them unless it’s absolutely necessary - and those people better give them what they want immediately or it’s insubordination.
It’s the people in category #2 that usually find themselves on the losing end of office politics because any wrong word or deed will be met with fierce retaliation. I won’t say that I never see office politics anymore, but I have found that I find myself in these situations a lot less since I’ve been reclassified to a mid-level position. I’d like to think this is because I’ve proven that my knowledge and abilities are valuable, but it’s more likely that I learned valuable lessons on how to deal with these types from previous experience – and people know it.
So what’s the secret to dealing when you’re the victim of office politics? If you’re right, stand by that. Don’t ever cave in and take the quick and easy way out because that’s a temporary end. If they’d turn on you once, they’ll turn on you again. Caving in only shows that you can be taken advantage of, and they will milk that dry, plus the consequences of doing wrong will follow you a lot longer than standing up for what’s right. They might not like you, but they’ll respect you and at least know not to let you catch them with their hand in the cookie jar again. If you aren’t right, correct yourself immediately and stick to your guns in walking down the right road. And whichever situation you’re in, it’s imperative that you have patience. Truth will show itself in time and it will be end game then. It might take months or even years for things to come around, but they will and you’ll be better off for it. The reward will come in patient endurance, and it will be something that nobody can deny. Sure, there are people that are so stubborn that they’ll refuse to change their mind no matter what happens, but don’t worry about them. Leave them in their ignorance and move on because it’s highly probably that they’ll be gone in time themselves.
I believe Jana Lanning in Anywhere But Here is a good personification of office politics gone wrong, because she’s the one in the weakest position. She didn’t do anything wrong and in fact suffered for doing right, but recent personal losses kept her from taking a stand in the right way and the right timing. The people that create these situations are masters at turning things against you even if you didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s exhausting to constantly defend your own character. Unfortunately, she found this out too late and suffered the consequences of crossing the wrong people simply by being who she was and not deferring to people doing things wrong. She was right and had proof of it, but she didn’t know how to present that truth in a combative work environment. That happens sometimes, and it’s awful. I think the worst offence in the world is to have to suffer for other peoples’ mistakes, and office politics are the ultimate example of that.
I think this is why eople tell me that they find Jana Lanning so likeable. She’s a good person that doesn’t deserve the hard knocks that come her way from people taking advantage of her shy nature, youth, and inexperience. She makes the same mistakes that all of us made in our early adulthood and we understand her confusion at why life is kicking her around. Reality is a hard teacher, and it’s the only one that can do the job once school leaves off. Remember the movie “St. Elmo’s Fire” from the 80’s? That strange, new world opening up is the exact thing that Jana faces, and we understand exactly where she’s coming from. She, like the rest of us, has to learn to find those gems of opportunity in the rubble of defeat to rebuild a new life from shattered dreams. In some ways, we may even relate to her right where we’re at, because life is always teaching us lessons.
So no, I didn’t start out in life exactly like Jana did. I actually did marry my college sweetheart, but I never made it to graduate school because I found other things that I believed were worth more in my life than higher education. I never struggled with depression, but I knew (and still know) many who do battle that demon, and I hope Jana’s struggle helps people with depression understand that this is a battle they can win if they stay in the fight. But yes, I did go through an office merger in my early years in the workforce, and I found myself prey to the power plays, albeit in much different circumstances. All I can say is that wisdom comes from experience, and I gained plenty in those few years.
And lest you think it’s impossible for poor Jana to face so much at one time, I call your bluff. Too much smashing my life to bits was the catalyst for my next novel, Splinter – but that’s one for a future blog entry. I’ll address it closer to the release date in mid 2013. Until then, enjoy Anywhere But Here and my other books - information on them and links to buy are on the other tabs of this website. I hope you find entertainment and inspiration in them.
That’s all today.
A fall beach trip! I wondered if I'd be up to it after going to San Francisco a month ago, but it's been nice. I have to tell you, too, that it's nice to be free of a schedule. Too much of my week happens in regimented blocks of time where things are "allowed" to happen. It's nice to break free of that every now and then.
We're at Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Surfside Beach, SC (south of Myrtle Beach) with my folks. It is nice, although we're having a rain shower right now, but that should pass soon. Seems a cold front is coming through, but that would be welcome, as it's been a bit warm for fall here.
And how about those Gamecocks? Not only did they make sure that Georgia would have nightmares of Clowney tackling them for a long time, but I hear they're #3. Wow guys, great job. Don't screw it up, please!
And today would have been my Granddaddy's birthday, had he lived. He'd have been 98. Of course, the chances of him making it to 98, well, not good. But I am remembering him. And ironically, I also chose this as the birthday for Jana Lanning, the protagonist in Anywhere But Here. Heh heh. No coiencidence there. I planned that on purpose.
That's all for now. We're heading home tomorrow (ugh, back to reality that soon? Oh well).
I hope you have a great start to the week. Take care and I'll see you later.
Many people have asked me recently about how things are going with my writing, so I thought I'd update you through a blog entry. I've stay very busy with it between promoting work that's already published and writing new work. Here's a rundown of where things are at:
As you probably know, I'm in the middle of an Author Feature Week on The Edible Bookshelf. DelSheree Gladden read my young adult novel, Blurry
, and is doing a feature on me that's focused on this book on Monday - Friday of this week. Today's entry is the best so far with an author interview on Blurry
. You can check it out at http://www.theediblebookshelf.blogspot.com/2012/08/interview-with-sherri-fulmer-moorer.html
. Be sure to drop by http://www.theediblebookshelf.blogspot.com
tomorrow and Friday too to see the remaining entries in the feature week. I'd like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to DelSheree Gladden for reading Blurry
and giving me this wonderful opportunity to reach readers through her outstanding blog!
I was also surprised to get a very flattering review of Anywhere But Here
today. It was so encouraging to see that this story touched someone and that they recommended it because they believed that others could relate to it too - even with the twist ending! (Folks, this book has a BIG twist in the end!). Dealing with personal setbacks and depression are the major themes of this fictionalized novel about a young woman whose life falls apart in the weeks after college graduation, and it was my hope that others would read this tale and find hope to face their own challenges. I'm glad people are relating to this story. That is, after all, why writers do write in the first place - so their stories can entertain and inspire others. I'd like to thank Goodreads for their support of indie authors and for helping people to find me and my work. If you love reading, this is a great site! You can check them out at www.goodreads.com
I have several book reviews for Blurry
and Anywhere But Here
pending, and I have my fingers crossed that they continue to get good reviews! I'm also planning to pick up promotion for Quarantine
, my mystery novella, and Resonance
, my horror long story, in September and October. Both of these stories take place in October. In fact, Resonance
is a Halloween tale. I believe these are good, quick reads that people will find interesting as a fall read. Plus, they're cheap - only a dollar!
On the publication front, I signed a contract with Whiskey Creek Press to publish Splinter
, my sci-fi novel that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month in 2010, in late May. I should get more information from them on a publication schedule in October or November, and it should be out sometime in mid to late 2013. I'll let you know when I get a timeline for publication. In the meantime, here's a synopsis:
The end of the world is just the beginning.
Dr. Leigh Lorene Lybrand, a thirty-three year old geophysicist, is content with her humble life on Earth. She has good work studying the reversal of Earth’s magnetosphere, a loving fiancé, and a supportative family. It’s a life most people would be happy with, until she’s offered a chance to make history. Developing interstellar habitats in the Jovan system will make her famous and financially secure for the rest of her life. She’s willing to put aside life on Earth for two years to have a chance to establish humanity in outer space.
History takes a critical turn when Earth is destroyed by a solar flare, and the crew of Jovan I are responsible for the survival of humanity. As they explore ways to survive in space, dark matter starts to rip open the fabric of
space and time, allowing Leigh and one of her colleagues to see parallel universes. When the visions take a sinister turn to reveal that a radical religious group planned Earth’s destruction, Leigh must make a choice: Accept her fate or use what she’s learned to save humanity; even if it means sacrificing herself in this universe.
I obviously need to clean that up into a more intriguing back cover blurb, but I beleive you get the point. And let me tell you, I'm super excited about this book! It's the most work I've ever done to write a novel - it's my longest book to date at 50 chapters and took over six months of research just to plan the plot! But the work was worth it, because I believe this is my best book so far.
On the writing front, I have two books in progress right now. That's right, two! The first is a mystery novel titled Move
. The tagline - be careful what you wish for. I don't nave a formal synopsis for it because it isn't complete, but it's about a woman that's stuck in a rut that unknowingly makes a deal with a djinn to help her with people that are getting in the way of her progress. Unfortunately, the djinn isn't really good with the whole wish-granting thing, and he makes a bigger mess of things than she ever imagined. And I'll be honest with you - I love working on this book. This is the most fun I've had writing a book since Blurry! It's just a good, intriguing story and I love the characters I work with. Well, except one of the villians, but I'm having fun helping things bite her in the butt. These are the experiences writers live for - to get absorbed in our work and fall into the world we've created. This is why I love writing. To create new work and share it with the world. I think the only thing better than reading a great story is writing one. Well, one that you think is great anyway.
The other book is a short non-fiction book titled Feathered Frenzy! A Quick Guide to Adapting Birds Into Your Life.
I'm writing this book as a way to share what I've learned from over twenty five years of bird ownership with others that have birds for pets. I might not have advanced degrees, but I believe that a lifetime of having birds for pets gives me plenty of advice to share, and I have picked up quite a few tips, tricks and lessons throughout the years that I beleive will be helpful to other bird owners. When I say this is a short book, I'm not kidding - I started it last week, and I've written 8 of the 10 chapters already. Hopefully, I'll complete the rough draft in the next couple of days. I plan to self publish this book. In the meantime, I posted a sample chapter in this blog last week, and I've posted another snippet on the bird blog over at Conure Corner at http://conurecorner.weebly.com
So that's what's going on with my writing. Thanks to all of you for your continued support and interest in it! I'll return to my usual musings and shenanagins next time. Until then, I hope the end of your week goes well.
Ok everybody, I'd like to offer up the entry I promised a week ago about writing advice I do take. I may be a rebel and I certainly insist on doing things my way, but there are some things that are actually good tips. For example:
1. Identify a ninch market to target. The most common mistake writers make is aiming at an audience that's too wide. I know that targeting, say, women in the 20-45 age range seems like a good idea, but the fact is that the wider your target, the less likely you are to hit it. This isn't the firing or archery range - it's reality, and reality means that, unless you're a celebrity, it's really best to find a small segment to serve, and build from there. Anybody can be a one-hit-wonder. It takes more to build up an audience - and a reputation - from the ground up, and this is more stable. That doesn't mean that your hands are bound - simply that you focus on a certain demographic. for example, I write across a number of genres, but I focus on ebooks. So my writing is more suited for young to middle age adults that are tech savy and very "plugged in." And from here, I hope to conquer the world.
2. Set aside time to write. You have to, or everything else in life will take over. And let me be very frank with you: People in general think that writing is easy and that there's nothing to it. Nothing can be further from the truth, and you and I know that - but we all know that there are lots of people that have opinions about things they really know nothing about, and this is one of them. Only you know how much time and effort it takes to brainstorm, plan, research and write that dream novel. Others can support you, but unless they're writers, they have no idea what it's like, so you're going to have to put your foot down and make this work if you're serious about it. And when it comes to scheduling that writing time, you can have some flexibility in there. For example, I simply can't say I'll write for 2 hours every day. With my lifestyle, that's not gonna happen (we discussed that about a week ago, and how all hell broke loose when I tried that one time). But I can say I'll write after work two nights this week, or I'll take my laptop to work and write on 1 lunch hour, or I'll do 2 chapters next weekend. That's doable. So make a schedule that fits best with your life and stick to it. And don't worry - the schedule can change, as long as you have some time penciled in for "writing" every few days.
3. Use technology to your advantage. You have to. Anybody that knows me will tell you that my 2 best friends are my smartphone and my laptop. As I said in So You Want to Be a Writer, the days of slipping a beautifully handwritten manuscript over the publisher's transom are over. Everybody expects typed submissions, and they're increasingly requesting that they be submitted digitally with explicit formatting instructions. Everybody expects you to have an email address, blog and website. Everybody expects you to be on social media - Facebook or Twitter at a minimum. You can say "I don't do computer!" and "I don't need all that high tech mess!" all day, but foresake these, and you foresake an audience. This is the twenty first century and it's not going away - in fact, all of life is shifting in that direction. So do yourself a favor and accept that if you want to be a writer, you have to snuggle up with technology.
4. Educate yourself. I said in my entry last week that I don't really have to means to attend conferences, but I have studied up on the craft of writing. I've read books on how to write, brushed up on grammer rules, familiarized myself with the publication process, and even took a couple of courses by computer. There are many ways to learn, and it's wise to take advantage of every opportunity you can.
5. Remember that your editor is your friend. So is everybody in the publication process, from the submissions editor to the graphic artist to the sales and publicity staff. Be kind, accept their guidance, and establish good working relationships with everybody. Remember, they have faith in your writing and they're trying to help you as an author. Help and support them as publishers by being kind and easy to work with - and saying "thank you" a lot.
6. It's all about the readers. We write because we love it, but we pursue publication because we hope o ur stories will entertain, inspire, and bring joy to readers. If you're doing this for any other reason, examine your motives.
7. Don't give up. Dry spells happen. I'm getting published now, but did you know that I went through a 3 year dry spell before I got my book contracts for Blurry and Anywhere But Here last year? That's right - I had absolutely nothing published in 2007 - 2010. I even had a contract for Quarantine fall through in 2009 when the publisher offered me a contract, then filed for bankrupcy before it ever went to print. But I'm glad I didn't give up, because I wrote both of those books and Splinter during that time frame, and now 2 of those books are published and I just signed a contract to publish Splinter through Whiskey Creek Press. And I self published Quarantine because I couldn't find any other publisher willing to take on a novella, so I finally decided to quit looking, do it myself, and move on to promoting my work and producing new work. Writing, like anything else in life, has it's ups and downs. And like everything else, you have to ride out those waves and learn from your experiences to break through to success.
So there you have it - seven tips that I use in my own endeavors to writing and publishing. I hope these are helpful and inspirational to you, and they give you a framework for defining your own path to success.
That's all today. Take care and I hope you have a good week.
So I was off work today for Confederate Memorial Day. I know, I know, nobody's heard of it outside those of us that work for SC State Government. I honestly can't explain it. Several years ago they took away Election Day and our optional holiday and gave us Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Confederate Memorial Day instead. Frankly, I'd rather have election day off but that's the way it rolls round these parts.
Our HVAC unit quit on us day before yesterday. Got home from work on Wednesday and it was a wee bit warm in here. Turns out the unit had a major freon leak and bad coils. They're getting us a new one and will install it tomorrow. Thanks God for His mercies, because the temperature dropped the past few days. Highs in the mid to upper 70's and lows in the 60's. It's gotten a bit above our preference range around mid day, but overall it hasn't been bad. We open the windows when we're home and that helps. The house is getting aired out and the birds seem to enjoy the open windows. They aren't bothered by this at all. In fact, I don't think they're phased a bit. But I thank the Lord over and over for the mild weather and the timing of this (specifically, that it didn't happen when highs are in the 80's and 90's because it has been in the 90's a few times recently). It's been a darned inconvenience, but not too bad. I pray things go as planned and we get the unit installed tomorrow. Rick can't get off work, so I'm the one on home duty for this one. Looks like tomorrow will be a good day to work on Move.
Speaking of Move, the ideas are really coming along. I pretty much have the whole novel mapped out. Of course, there's the issue that I've been sick the past 2 nights with a headache so bad I couldn't possibly look at a computer screen. And I have to work, and of course my poor hands and wrists need a break from typing every now and then. I tell you, I think that if I had a free week I could write the entire rough draft. But alas, I don't, and so I shall peck at it as I can. But that's ok. I don't want to rush this one. I made the mistake of rushing with Splinter to get it done for National Novel Writing Month and I don't want to do that again. I'm glad I entered that because it was one of those things I always eyed NaNo with great interest, but it's really not suitable for a person with a home, family nearby, and full time job - especially in November when Thanksgiving rolls around. But having to pound out 50,000 words in a month was just stressful. I'm not doing that again, at least not while I'm working full time. I really enjoyed writing Anywhere But Here and Blurry, and I believe it was because I took my time and that allowed me to enjoy the process of having the ideas develop and the story come to life. So I'm taking my time and so far I have been enjoyed working on Move.
Believe it or not, I already have an idea for my next book. I don't know if I've mentioned this (I don't think I have), but I've recently pondered a return to non-fiction. Well, today I was in Barnes & Noble and while walking past pet books I had the idea: Why don't I write a book about having birds as pets? I know I don't have a biology degree and I'm not a vet, but goodness, I've had 6 birds in my life. I think, at least from the petowner perspective, I'm certainly experienced. It's a general idea now, but it has me intrigued. I'll ponder this further and if I'm able to brainstorm some ideas then I'll take a shot at drafting this one after I get the rough draft of Move done.
And if that works it really will be interesting and a new experience, because I've always worked on one book at a time, from rough draft to final draft. I've just never had 2 book ideas at once. This is a new thing, and frankly I find it exciting! It's great to have the Spirit inspiring me so much again. I haven't really written much since Anywhere But Here, with personal life changes and then getting published - so it's great to be actually writing again and have the ideas coming. I say keep that inspiration flowing and keep the ideas coming, Lord!
I am feeling better with my sinus infection today. No more headache, sneezing or congestion. I still feel a bit feverish from time to time, and I'm slow and tire easily, but overall I'm much better. The antibiotic has worked quickly and I'm thankful for that too!
That's all for today. Take care all. I hope you have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a great weekend.
I'd like to expand on something I said in my last blog entry about how "the villians make the story." We don't actively think about, but it's true that without the villians there would be no story - not in real life or in fiction. That's one thing they share in common. After all, where's the excitement in just another day? There's not much, is there? In fact, we have a term for long periods of time without resistance. We call it a rut.
That's not to say that problems are desirable. Heck no. I could do with fewer "adventures" in my life, truth be told. But the fact of the matter is that we grow when we have resistance. It's the tough times, struggles, and pain in the butt people where we learn and grow the most. That's not a truth many of us want to face, but it is a truth. Look back over your life, and I'll be the times you learned the most were during your greatest struggles. It was true for me. I took a lot of lessons from those instances I described in my last entry. I learned how to stand up for myself, how to stand up for what's right, and how to deal with fragile egos (because frankly, a lot of those problems went to a root of fragile egos addicted to approval). I learned not to fear change and to have confidence in myself and my abilities no matter what other people thought or said about me, and that strength gave me the confidence to build a house, successfully move to and integrate into a new office, and to publish 4 books (and some inspiration for said books too). To put it bluntly, manure is a fertilizer and fertilizer makes things grow. If you learn from your experiences and use those lessons to better yourself then you will be prepared for greater blessings ahead. So think of the crap you deal with as the stimulus to grow your spirit and take you to new heights.
I know, that's not a pretty metaphor. Frankly, it stinks. (Oh, another bad joke). But it's relevant and you have to admit that it's not a cliche comparisome. And you won't forget it either, will you?
Anyway, back to the point ...
I believe the series finile of "Smallville" hit it close to the mark when Lex Luthor told Clark Kent "I used to think your friends defined a man. But it's actually enemies that define a man." I believe that's a bit extreme and one sided, but it has a grain of truth. Our enemies, or rather the people we find ourselves clashing with and struggling against, do have a certain amount of definition to our own lives because they are often dark images of ourselves. I've blogged in previous entries about how each of us tends to be a magnant for people that are our polar opposite and that the people we struggle with tend to have a common root issue - for example, with me it seems there are always jealous, petty people around. I can't seem to get rid of them. And the reason I struggle with them is because I want to be my best and help others be their best. Therein lies my own Lex Luthor. We all have one and if you look at the people you're in strife with, I'll bet you'll see that same dark image of yourself in them. The real story and lessons lie in how we deal with them. Do you fight to win, stand your ground, or swat them away like a bug and keep on keeping on. There is no one right answer becase it depends on who and what you're dealing with. I had to stand my ground and occationally fight the last ones in my life, but the answer for the present ones seems to be ignoring them. Just keep doing my thing and let them seeth and have their pity party all alone because I'm busy and have stuff to do.
That's why every experience is different. It's because you can have the same situation and a different answer due to the context of the situation. The last jealous people I dealt with feared confrontation and avoided it, so fighting forced them to do something they found so unpleasant that they'd back off. But the ones in my life now live for and absolutely love the fight and the challenge it brings. They hate to be ignored - so I ignore them. As I said before, different context = different solution. And the same principle applies in fiction as in real life.
Yes, the villians do make the stories. It's provides the catalyst to grow and learn in real life. It provides the plot in fiction. Because without villians, there is no story. There is no growth. there is no spark to life.
So don't be too hard on those pain in the butt people. After all, they can be quite useful if you know how to utilize them correctly. In fiction and in reality.
That's all for today. Take care and have a good week.
Well, you can't beat coming home from a hell of a day at work to find out that your book has been released. Hooray! After 2 years of blood, sweat and tears, Jana Lanning's tale is released to the world. Anywhere But Here was released today.
I'm really excited about this book, because I feel it's one we can all relate to. We've all gone through those life transitions. We've all gone through tough times when life kicks us in the rear, over and over again. We've all wondered if the crappy luck will ever end, and if that light we see is the end of the tunnel or an oncoming train. Yes, we've all been there and this book shows one woman's struggle through one of life's valleys.
By the way, I want to share with you that this is the book that I got tendinitis writing 2 years ago. Yep, this is the one that ripped 2 tendons in my wrist. And while I may recoup the cost of the splint I was in for nearly 2 months, I will never be compensated for the snake in the driveway that I couldn't kill because of a weak arm. But that's another story for another day.
Anyway, I thank you all for your support as I've made this journey to publication and hope this is a tale that will bless and inspire others. Here's praying it will reach out, as I always hoped it would.
Take care and have a good week.