I did it! I completed the final draft of Move last night and sent it to one of my publishers! Now cross your fingers and pray they accept it for publication. I hope they do. I've put a lot into this one. It's my longest novel to date at around 60,600 words. And you all know that I've worked on it, and worked on it, and researched it, and slaved over it. But it's worth it. I feel it's a good story and it's ready for the world - or at least, it will be when I get the right publisher and editor working on it with me.
Another world created. I enjoyed working on this one. In a way, I'm sad that it's done! I loved that world and it's sad to leave it - and the characters that really do seem like familiar friends to me - behind. I pulled from all over, passed along some lessons learned (and reinforced), drew from lots of experiences, and relationships, and people that have come and gone in my life over the years. Indeed, a writer's muse draws from reality and experience. Every time the world cracks open a bit more, it's a ray of inspiration to creating our own new worlds.
Such is the life of a novelist. You bleed it out through your writing. All you learn, all you know, all you do, everything around you, inspires you to create new characters and worlds that mirror reality and reflect what you know to the world in visions that allow them to escape, and yet take your world back to their own.
Yes, I love being a novelist. And even though I plan to take a break from novels for a little while to focus on writing short stories and articles, I know I'll be back. I always am. I hope the ideas never run out.
Naw, that won't happen. Where there's life, there's inspiration. And that's a ray of hope that keeps me going.
That's all today. Take care.
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!
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.
Yep, that's the right word to describe my schedule these days. It seems there's always something going on. Over the past few weeks we've visited with family, visited with friends, did work on our committees at church, and cleaned house. Work is chaos with license renewals for our biggest program and the legislature making the final push to get things running before regulations time out this month and next month. This has been a brutal session because they're questioning everything with fees down to the jot and tittle and guess what? There are fees in one of my regulations.The June 7 close of the session will be a huge relief - for better or for worse. So that's meant a lot of meetings, on top of meetings I've already had.
Add to that the fact that I didn't feel 100% well with my sinuses 2 days this week but couldn't take off because I had meetings (big surprise), that our big "Share Our Stuff" spring event is tomorrow morning at the church, and I started writing my new book (Move), this week and - yea, insanity.
Incidentally, it's not really out of place for me to start writing a book when things are crazy. It seems the inspiration always hits when I don't have a minute to spare and it seems I have to sledgehammer time into my schedule to peck some research here and a chapter there. I can't explain it. Things will be calm and I'll have writer's block, but let my schedule fill up with dots on every day of my calendar in my iPhone, and the muse is firing off left and right. Maybe the high level of activity feeds inspiration, or gives me more to draw off of. I have to admit that I pounded out a chapter today durning my lunch hour with no problem. In fact, sometimes I find it easier to write scenes there that are in a work related setting. Maybe it's because I'm already in a work-mindset and I can draw inspiration from what I've been dealing with recently. Yes, it's easiest to write in the quiet with free time, but sometimes those short slices of free time feed my muse, I guess by allowing me to draw inspiration from recent experience.
Or maybe I'm just weird and have a busy lifestyle where I've adapted to being able to write anytime I can find a minute. I learned in college that there's no such thing as dead time. They taught me to be a master at handling my schedule and I learned I can squeeze things into every minute of every day. In fact, sometimes I have to plan to take time off. I guess I'm driven. It seems I always have some personal project going on top of everything else. No sooner do I finish the birdhouse village than I'm off and running on my next novel. This one should keep me occupied for a while - and there's no telling what's next.
That's all for today. Happy Friday to you. I hope you have a great weekend.
I wonder where inspiration comes from. It's a funny thing. For example, I haven't written a single new thing since November, yet I've done a lot with promotion of my work and a great deal of blogging. It's odd. It seems I'll go through these odd spells then all of a sudden I'll get hammered with more ideas than I can possibly keep up with.
Here's another puzzle: I've been agonizing over what to do with our front yard for a year. When you build on your own lot they don't do a thing for your yard - I mean nothing. Rick and I even had to plant grass, which we did, but we did little else because we were getting the inside of the house settled. Well, we finished that about a year and turned out attention outside, but came up blank. Then all of a sudden the entire vision of how to fix the front yard up came to me in Sunday School this morning. Just like that. I actually did a rough diagram of it while we were waiting to take communion on the back of my bulletin in church.
A lot of people have ideas of where it comes from. The most common that I hear is Holy intervention - the Spirit speaks and our mind moves. Some say it's how our experiences affect us. Some say it's where we are in life, or what we're going through - the situations we face and how they shape us. Others say it's more organic and inspiration comes through exercising regularly or eating right. Some say working your mind by doing puzzles. There are so many theories.
I believe they all have merit, but I think it's a more mysterious combination of it all. I sure do wish I could pinpoint what causes those flashes of inspiration that artist live for, though. I suspect I'd be a rich woman if I could find, bottle and sell that secret.
Unfortunately I don't have the answer, so I just have to work through it like everybody else. And hope that today's flash of inspiration for fixing up the yard will be the first of a wave that will inspire me in other areas of life. All I know is that my mind did start moving today, and I hope it's on a train that keeps on rolling.
Take care and I hope you have a great start to the week.
I am hoping that the "wow" factor is coming back into my life. After a year and a half of not finding it anywhere but in writing my own novels, it seems to be making a return. Bless it, and I hope it stays. It seems that the older I get, the harder it gets to, for lack of a better term, knock my socks off. I don't know if it's because I've been stressed out with so much change in my life lately, if life itself has jaded me into just not caring as much, or if the effort hasn't been put in by others to produce outstanding efforts.
I will admit that I have just started reading and watching new movies again, after quite a long hiatus. In fact, I've been to the movies three times in as many weeks, which must be a new record for me. "Thor" was the first movie that I saw since "The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian." The reason for this is simple: Going to the movies is kind of expensive, so if I'm going to spend that money to sit in the same place for 2-3 hours, then it better captivate me. And you know me - I'm a plot junkie that loves movies that spend a ridiculous amount of money on special effects. "Thor" certainly met that criteria, and today we saw "X-Men: First Class." All I can say is that between the 2 movies, my eyes nearly popped out from all the outstanding effects - and they had great story lines too. They definitely had the wow factor going, and it was great to see it again. I'm glad to see more will be coming in the way of "The Green Lantern" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The summer of superheros is what I've heard it called, and it's right - but that's alright with me. I love this stuff.
I'll tell you what else is alright with me: I'm writing again! That's why I haven't blogged here in a while. I've been working on a short story, 2 flash fiction pieces, and yesterday I had an idea for another short story. One very common theme that seems to be running through them all is transitions - especially in the sense of endings and new beginnings. That's understandable, considering the events in my life over the past year. It concerned me a bit, but I decided to just roll with it and see if there are ways to package it differently in each piece. Why not? I've always written what was in me before, so why try to push myself to something I'm not feeling now? Reality inspires fiction, and frankly it's good to work on short stories after over 18 months of working on novels. Don't get me wrong; I love writing novels, but it's good to do something different every now and then. Novels are so intensive, and short stories are great because you can do a burst of work here and there and have something great.
So I have the "wow" factor going in entertainment and writing now, and I'm glad for it. Let's keep that train running for as long as we can! Now if only I could find more time to read. Well, as hot as it's getting outside already, I suspect I'll be doing more reading this summer since it's way to hot to be outside!
That's all for this time. I hope your summer is off to a great start. So far, I have to say I'm pretty happy with where this one is going. I pray it stays on this great track.
Hi all; I hope you're doing well and having a great week. I tried, I really did, but it just hasn't worked out so far.
The foot is healing, for which I am extremely grateful. I haven't been brave enough to get back on the treadmill yet. Maybe in another couple of days. Today is the first day I've gone the whole day without pain.
The rest of life, however, has been one for the "what the hell?" files (although that's not what we really call it but hey! I'm trying to maintain some sort of decency!). Work has been one thorny issue after another, all week long. I untangle one mess and here comes another. There must be some evil imp ravaging my cubicle. I think I beat most of it into submission today. *Hopefully,* and I say that in the "if the Lord wills and creeks don't rise" sense, I did manage to get things flowing properly, balls in other courts, and I made my final visit to the State House for a committee meeting for this session today. *Hopefully* As things have shown a tendency to unravel - or worse, to pull a phoenix and rise from the ashes - I'm not counting it done yet.
Then yesterday we got word that a friend at church lost her battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday. Don't worry, I'm not going to put you through those musings again. We went through this - oh wait! Exactly a year ago today, when a friend at my former workplace died of THE VERY SAME THING!! There's much I don't understand and this scary timing is one more thing on the heap. But I suppose faith is about accepting that you don't have the answers and being ok with the questions. Or something like that.
I'm trying to find out how things keep getting past me. I don't know stuff that I usually find out without even trying. For example: Did you know the new Transformer's movie is coming out on July 1st? I knew they were making one but had no idea it was done. I also didn't know that they moved a new deposit machine just up the hall from my cubicle, that several files I've been looking for are in the cabinet right next to my desk, that you can get Microsoft Office for iPads, that the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out last weekend, that "True Grit" was a remake, that they were thinking about extending the legislative session, or that there's an old wives tale about more people dying in the spring because of something with the sap in the trees (another one for the "what the...? files). I think I've been working too hard and too much. Yes, I've had problems with my mind wandering lately, but this is ridiculous. I definitely need to take a break this weekend. No writing, chores, errands, visiting, volunteering, or anything.
So here I sit with all these questions and more. Like why does my parakeet sing like a canary? Why does my computer smell like my perfume (that never gets near this machine)? How did Zack chew curtains that are nowhere near his cage? Why did Chloe growl at me when I got home? What is going on with this crazy, hot weather? And many, many more.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is life in the rabbit hole! Hmm. I sense inspiration for short stories in my future. Life like this is the catalyst for it.
Well, my brain is fried so it's time to go. I hope you have a Happy Friday tomorrow. Heck, I hope I have a Happy Friday tomorrow either. It's been a challenging week, but I'm not giving up on having at least one good day in it.
I recently had the realization that it's been a long time since I wrote a short story. In fact, I can only recall writing 2 short stories and maybe 2 or 3 flash fiction pieces in the past year. I know I've been working on novels for the past 18 months, but I think this is the longest I've gone without writing something short, be it a short story, flash fiction, or a devotional. And since I completed the final draft of Splinter, I haven't written anything new. I've been working on updating this website and setting up promotional things for the eventual release of Anywhere But Here.
In one way this is normal. I am a novelist, and hitting a dry spell after completing a novel is completely normal for me. My muse is usually running on fumes when a novel is completed and badly in need of a break. Writer's block happens to every writer, and fighting it is usually an exercise in futility. You can't force yourself to write. You just have to wait it out, keep on living, and hope that somewhere in having a life you find something that inspires you and sparks the muse again. It's just frustrating to have the desire to write, but not the ability because you lack - what? Ideas? Inspiration? What's missing?
I do want to write short stories again. I've been eyeing contests and calls for submissions more and more lately, and I'd love to have something to submit. Don't get me wrong. I love writing novels. But short stories are also fun in a different way. There's something just as captivating in weaving a slice of life together as there is in creating an entire world.
*Sigh* This too shall pass. I know. I've been writing for 10 years and I usually hit a dry spell at least once a year. I just hope it isn't a long one. In the meantime, I guess I'll keep researching how to promote my work and become a better writer.
Have a happy weekend and a great Resurrection Celebration!