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Sunday Snippet

Hey guys!

I tried a new meditation technique this morning and once I was done, I realized it’d make for a great blog post for a few reasons.

First, I’ll tell you about my experience and why I’ve been getting more and more into meditation in the first place.

Not many people know this, but I struggle with severe anxiety, often to the level that it cripples my day-to-day life. I was doing good with it for a few years, but after my husband left the Navy, I started to experience more and more episodes that I couldn’t shake with my normal breathing exercises.

After one of my most recent episodes, I stumbled across a wellness page that was discussing the benefits of meditation and I made a mental note about how I had always wanted to try it out, not just for anxiety reasons, but because I find it incredibly intriguing. I love anything that involves personal development.

Anyway, I realized the connection between my breathing exercises I use to combat my issue and the techniques used in meditation, and I thought it’d be something to try out to see if it helped. I hate taking medication (leaves me foggy, no good for writing!) so anything that helps that isn’t in pill form is perfect, in my opinion.

Back to this morning – I was lazily surfing the web and came across a technique I’d never heard of before called Vipassana meditation. Intrigued, I gave it a shot, starting small with five minutes to begin with. It doesn’t seem like much time to accomplish anything, but the whole point of this particular technique is to focus on your breathing and nothing else. If your mind wanders, which it will, you just bring it right back to focusing on breathing. I figured five minutes was a good point for me to start at without overwhelming myself.

I’ll admit, I had a heck of a time staying focused, but after just five minutes, I felt calm. It might sound silly to some, but I really liked the challenge and the feeling of peace (and accomplishment) once the timer went off. I read that one of the key principles of Vipassana is to be able to focus even when there are distractions all around, and this is something that I think will be especially useful for me as I move forward.

SO, what does this have to do with writing? Well, many things. I often struggle to stay focused in general, and my self-discipline straight up sucks. The focus required for meditation trains us to block out distractions and, in my opinion, helps me to reinforce and build on my weak foundation of self-discipline.

As a writer, I have found that when I can meditate for a few minutes, not only does it help lessen writer’s block, but it acts as a sort of brain dump, if you will, and sets me back on track for success. My mind is at peace and is clear to accomplish the work before me.

It also helps in my daily life, too. I have two little ones at home, so taking a few minutes to chant an affirmation in my head, follow an orb in my mind, or focus on my breathing and only my breathing, helps me to realign my mind and recharge. I’ve only begun with a few of the different methods, but I’ve enjoyed the benefits so far. And in this crazy day and age, it’s nice to block everything out and train my brain to be at peace.

I’m excited to see how this pans out as I continue to pencil in a daily session, if only for a few minutes, and I look forward to seeing the benefits it has for my anxiety and my life in general.

That said, do any of you meditate? I’d love to hear about your experience if you do!

If you don’t and want to try it out, here is a great link that explains Vipassana meditation and how it works:

http://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-vipassana-insight-meditation/

‘Til next time.

the-quieter-you-become-the-more-you-can-hear

All Posts, From My Library

From My Library…

Hey guys!

I wanted to share a neat little book that I picked up a while back called The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience.

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I stumbled across this awesome find during a family trip to Barnes & Noble about 2 years ago and the title immediately grabbed my attention. I thumbed through a few pages and instantly knew that I needed to add it to my collection.

Chuck has compiled everything from what you should know about writing a novel, to writing in specific genres, to self-publishing and so much more into an easy-to-read-and-apply guide that benefits a range of skill levels. The way he breaks the book’s components into lists of 25 tidbits of wisdom makes it a great reference, especially since you can peruse the index to find specific information within the text to suit your need(s) at any given time. His style and layout is simple yet effective, and it makes the content very easy to read and absorb.

I’ve found his “25 Things Writers Should Know About Blogging” section incredibly helpful as I continue to build and establish my blogging platform, and he makes a lot of solid statements regarding different aspects of the blogging world. My favorite is probably his second point in the list where he discusses the necessity of writing what energizes you — something I strongly believe in!

Of course, the rest of the information is great as well, and I’m not receiving any sort of incentive to say that. 😛 I truly feel that it is a great resource for all writers who could use a good laugh, a bit of reassurance, and a nudge in the right direction.

I will say that he does use some colorful language in his approach, so please be mindful of that – I don’t want to suggest something that will make anyone uncomfortable! An open mind is definitely necessary.

I linked the title to its Amazon page, so give it a look, and consider adding it to your collection!

And if you have any writing guides or references you find helpful, please share! I’m always looking for an excuse to buy a good book! 😉

All Posts, Dreamweaver, My Writing

Publishing Dilemma

As I push forward on my journey with Dreamweaver, I’ve come across a few hard-pressed decisions in terms of publishing. Namely, whether I should attempt the traditional route or if I should give self-publishing a shot.

I’ve been torn on which path to take for a few different reasons, but mostly because I am not sure what would suite me better. I want to maintain some control over marketing and have a say in the process, but I also like the secure feeling of the traditional path as well.

I have some time – my manuscript is still a work in progress – but it’s never too soon to learn about and create a plan to move forward with.

The downside to submitting to a traditional publisher is the fact that they could reject me. As could the next one. And the next. And so on. They have resources and know-how that I lack, though, so despite the obvious drawback of potential rejection, I am drawn to the alluring qualities that are still present with this option.

Self-publishing terrifies me, though. I have seen many authors self-publish and succeed, and I have seen them fail as well. It takes a lot of time and dedication, which comes with the territory, but the idea of having some of those time-consuming aspects outsourced to a publishing house makes self-publishing a less opportunistic idea for me.

However…I would get to decide how things would move forward and who I would work with on design and editing, and I could publish immediately.

I definitely have a lot to think about.

In the meantime, if anyone else is in the same boat as I am, take a look at this little blurb on Writer’s Digest’s website by Brian Klems titled The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing (& Traditional Publishing). It has some good, quick information and suggested articles at the end that may help as well.

For those who have published traditionally, self, or both, what route did you prefer and why? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

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Music and Writing

I don’t think I could write without music.

Music plays such a large role in everything from background noise while I pour words onto a page to exploring and assigning key emotions for the scenes I write and without it, I don’t feel I would be able to write as compellingly. Whether it’s parts for Dreamweaver, jotting down personal pieces, or developing other storylines, all of my projects have music that I attribute to them in some way. It not only helps me to connect to my work, but helps me to understand it better as well.

Shockingly (or not for those who know me well, I suppose) I’ve never been good with emotions, especially when it comes to describing how I am feeling. And since I am good at explaining just about everything else, the fact that I struggle with conveying emotion leads to many episodes of writer’s block fueled by large amounts of frustration. I have a hard time with emotional attachment and vulnerability, and my rough exterior often inhibits my ability to properly construct an authentic emotional response or relationship within my characters. This is probably my biggest weakness as a writer.

I think a lot of people can relate, however, to the emotional response and relatability of music. I know that it has been a driving force in overcoming my weaker writing areas and I have found that using music to conjure the right way to attribute my own emotions as well as my characters has helped me strengthen this aspect of my craft.

My taste in music is rather eclectic, so I have a pretty wide variety to draw from depending on my mood or inspirational need.

Here’s my current playlist:

  • Pittsburgh – The Amity Affliction
  • Shine On – The Amity Affliction
  • Machines – Crown the Empire
  • Satellites (intro) – Crown the Empire
  • I’d Rather See Your Star Explode – Slaves
  • Broken vs. The Way We Were Born – Emarosa
  • I Still Feel Her Pt. 4 – Emarosa
  • Fear – Blue October
  • Stay – Blue October
  • Vaulted Ceilings – Memphis May Fire
  • Don’t Lose Your Heart – Dream On Dreamer
  • In Too Deep – The Sweeplings
  • Feed the Flames – Michael Malarkey
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy
  • The entire Skyrim soundrack

As you can see, there is quite a bit of diversity. Clair de Lune tends to be my go-to for general writing, as is the soundtrack to the game Skyrim, and they are permanent residents on my list. I have to have pieces without words in order to concentrate wholeheartedly, so the classical and instrumental scores work to keep me engaged without distracting me.

The rest are ones I’ve been listening to a lot in order to draw inspiration for certain scenes that require a particular tone, mood, or emotion. This is when I have a pen and paper and randomly scrawl notes to myself to look back on later when I switch gears and actually work on my stories.

I can’t recommend any of these enough, though, so if you’re looking for some good, deep tunes, give them a listen. And let me know what you’re listening to, or if there’s something you think I should add to my list! I’m always interested in sharing music and finding new tunes to aid in my writing endeavors.

All Posts, Sunday Snippet

Sunday Snippet

Needless to say, it’s been quite a weekend here in the United States and around the world, really. We’ve seen a beloved president leave, a new one step in, and protests and marches take place.

While I know the election has created turbulence at home and abroad, I hope you will join me in reaching out to family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers, and embrace them with kindness during what is proving to be a difficult time many. We don’t have to agree in order to be kind.

Love trumps hate, my friends, and the minute we give in to hate, we lose.

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A Little Background

Hey guys!

Many of my followers and readers either know me personally or they have been connected to me in some way long enough to know a little more about me than just the usual information you can find while perusing the Internet.

There are many of you, however, that might not know my “story,” so I wanted to take this time to give you some background in the hopes that it might let you get to know me a little better not just as an author, but a human being in general.

Up until a little over 4 years ago, I was a single mom to a beautiful little girl. I was working for my hometown’s school district while attending college full-time and my daughter was enjoying the life of a normal kindergartner. Our entire life changed, however, when my best friend came home for a visit after returning from his deployment to Africa. After years of horrible timing on both of our parts, we finally reconnected and the rest is history. My daughter and I moved to his duty station in California, he and I were married, and our son was born six months later in September of 2013.

We spent just shy of 3 years in California while my husband finished up his contract with the Navy, and in September 2015, we moved back to our home state of Washington. During our time in California, my husband and I had a serious talk about what I wanted to do with my future and he wholeheartedly encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing. With that little push, I applied and was accepted into Arizona State University and started on my Bachelor’s in English. Fast-forward to present day and I am in my final year of my degree program and hitting the ground running to build my career as an author.

It hasn’t always been easy — with so many moves due to the Navy, I have had to take a few breaks along the way and there have been many late nights and even earlier mornings. It has been worth it, though, and the amount of success I have seen so far, though small to some and especially since I am still working on my first novel, has meant the world to me.

When I’m not writing, working on my sites, or interacting with my followers, I’m chasing my very wild 3-year-old son. I have also taken on the task of homeschooling our daughter who is 10 now and in the 4th grade, and it has been quite an adventure thus far. And of course, a large portion of my attention goes toward my school work as well. When I’m not busy with grown-up type stuff, I enjoy reading, working out, taking family walks, and having dance parties with my kiddos — their energy and laughter is medicine for my soul. I also love watching my husband play his video games and when he’s not hogging the T.V., I enjoy catching up on the latest movies. I live for a good storyline!

I don’t want to drone on about myself too much, but I hope that this post has given you some insight into my life and what I’m up to when I’m not pouring myself into my work. Life is all about balance and I try my best to keep the scales even!

I’ll catch up with all again soon!

 

All Posts, Dreamweaver, Monday Mantra, My Writing

Hello, 2017

Hey, guys! Happy New Year!

I’ve been reflecting a bit as we say goodbye to 2016, which I’ve now decided is the Voldemort of all years (we must not speak its name!) and I’ve come up with some thoughts that I think round out my intentions for the coming year pretty well.

However, I can’t go much further without first touching on the losses we felt toward the end of Year Voldemort. I know it’s rampant across the interwebs, but my heart is still broken over the passing of Carrie Fisher, and it broke even further for her family when her mother, Debbie Reynolds, passed a day later. I actually received a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas and put it toward purchasing Carrie’s new book, The Princess Diarist. I’ll admit it was hard to read periodically – she jumped all over the place at times – but it was a great book nonetheless. Even if you’re not into Star Wars, pick it up. It’s good stuff.

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We lost so many others, who I won’t list because I don’t want to create an unreal aura of sadness around this post, and their losses were felt deeply. May they all rest in peace.

Okay, on to business.

As I sat reflecting last night and throughout most of today, I found myself pouring over my current goals and projects and asking myself what I might choose as my resolution. I’ve never been one for the “new year, new me” sort of thing – mostly because I don’t find that it works – and I wanted to choose something that was meaningful to me. No cliché weight loss goal (already have that one going anyway), no daily FitBit goal, no “I’ll end this bad habit at 00:00 and never touch it again” goal. I wanted something I knew was something for me, deep down.

So I sat…and thought…and sat some more…and then I got up and walked a bit because I do already have a daily FitBit goal (haha!)…

And I came up with a pretty damn good resolution:

2017 will be the year that I live unapologetically.

And of course, I put this on Facebook and received some feedback. Good stuff, as always, because I have some kick-ass friends.

Anyway, back to deep and profound thoughts. I decided that this needed to be my resolution for a few reasons…

First, because I spend far too much of my time questioning my decisions and whether they are “right,” meaning, whether I think they appear “right.” Not whether they are right for me or my family, but whether they appear right to those who know me, follow me, or might be in either of those categories at some point in the future.

Second, because I don’t owe an explanation to anyone. Except my husband and my kids, of course, because they tend to be directly affected by choices I make. But anyone else? Psshh, nope. They can water their own side of the fence while I plant insanely bright flowers on mine.

Finally, I realized (and with great sadness) that I have been living this half-life of sorts, censoring who I am and not just putting out there the authentic bad-ass chick that is me. I spend so much time taming my inner-self and creating this false persona that I don’t let all of myself shine through, and that’s disheartening. Yeah? Yeah. And I’m done doing it!

If you haven’t committed to a resolution yet, feel free to join me, and if you do, leave a comment. I’d love to confab about how awesome this sense of freedom is.

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Anyway, on to businessier-business…

Dreamweaver. This tricky little project that I’ve got going on has been giving me a hard time and while I hoped for a Christmas update, I have nothing that I’m willing to share because, well, it isn’t ready. Plain and simple. And since I’m living unapologetically, well…it just is what it is. I do hope you understand and that you continue to have patience. I don’t want to put something out to the world that isn’t ready, and so far, it is telling me that it still isn’t ready. I have discovered so many additional pieces to this story that require more time and fine-tuning to get the details just right and even though it is frustrating as hell, I know they’re going to bring this whole thing together in a way I could never have imagined when I first came up with the idea for it.

Which brings me to another a-ha! moment I had in the last few days:

Not everything I write needs to be profound or insightful to be meaningful.

It doesn’t have to move mountains. What does matter is that I write. Period. It can be absolute crap or it can be a masterpiece. It doesn’t even matter what it is. All that matters is that it’s done, and done authentically. Writing is never done well when it is forced. End of story. Pun not intended.

Once I stopped trying to push myself to only write these philosophically-fueled pieces, for Dreamweaver or a brain dump or whatever, I felt this huge weight fall off my shoulders and found the words pouring out of me again. I don’t always have to create a work of art – that’s what editing is for anyway. 😉

Those are my thoughts for going into this new year. I will live unapologetically and authentically and I will write much the same.

Oh, and since it’s technically Monday, I do have a mantra befitting of the hashtag:

“Bitches get stuff done.”

I had posted a fairly pathetic goodbye to the year which shall not be named on Facebook and a family friend responded to it. She said,

“You’re a fighter and a doer. You’ve got this…we are all entitled to a little self-pity every once in a while. It’s human. Just have to brush yourself off and keep going which I know you always do. I’m a doer which sometimes makes me a bitch but bitches get stuff done.”

So there’s my #MondayMantra. Bitches get stuff done. And it is probably the best piece of advice I will receive all year.

Okay, that’s all for now. Check back or keep up with my social media for details alluding to an update on Dreamweaver, and kick the pants off of your Monday!

All Posts, Dreamweaver, My Writing

A Little Update

Friends, I have a confession to make. And please don’t judge me too harshly for it.

Until this last week, I’d never sat and watched the Star Wars movies in order, in their entirety. I’d seen chunks of each movie out of order, but I never had the opportunity to sit and watch the entire saga up from its beginning up until The Force Awakens. I have yet to see Rogue One, I might add, but it’s on the to-do list.

That said, I’m feeling rather accomplished. I’ve always wanted to sit and follow the story from its beginning all the way through and now I can say that I have, minus RO.

I don’t know about any of my other writer friends, but storylines like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and yes, even Twilight are fascinating to me for a few reasons, the largest being that these epic gifts to our pop culture all came from someone’s imagination – someone who had an idea for a story and created a world, or galaxy/ies for that matter – and launched a global phenomenon based on it. I will always find it intriguing to trace such stories back to their origin and then reflect on where it started, where it’s been, and where it will go. It is absolutely fascinating to me to take the journey with the creator from a writer’s standpoint as well as that of a fan’s, and it’s motivating to say the least.

Another take away from my marathon came in a connection I made to Dreamweaver. The premonitions that Anakin (my favorite character, by the way) experienced had small, though present, similarities to some of my own ideas and I had fun using that influence to sort of amp up my story and then dig deeper into it. I realized I’d still only been scraping the surface until that point, and it has made a drastic impact on where I plan to take my characters. Or where they plan to take me, I should say.

I also realized over the weekend that the Academy Awards are right around the corner and I am pretty excited about sitting and watching this year. Last year was probably the first time I really sat and appreciated them for more than just finding out who won best actor/actress and such. Don’t get me wrong, though, I was absolutely over the moon that Leo finally won! Anyway, last year’s show set a certain tone for me as a writer and I felt an overwhelming sense of motivation and pride in my craft after witnessing the talented screenwriters win awards for the stories we came to know on the big screen in 2015. My exact thought? “Why not me?” And man, have I clung to that belief. I’m not one to set unattainable goals, but it definitely makes me want to work hard and have a certain amount of confidence in myself as a storyteller.

Honestly though, why not me? Why not you? Why not any of us? I was talking to my mom a couple of weeks ago about how I was really starting to ask myself that question more often because I don’t like the idea of anyone telling me I can’t do something. Not because I don’t respect authority – I do – but because who is anyone else to tell me I can’t dream big and set out to make it happen? I mean, even J.K. Rowling (a huge influence, I might add) was told “no” multiple times before HP was finally picked up and published, and look at how that turned out. Her perseverance paid off. And I plan to do the same – persevere. That’s not to sound arrogant, ignorant, naïve, or anything of that sort. I just don’t think letting someone else guide my dream is a good idea. It’s MY dream, after all. One door may close, but there are so many other doors to choose from, and knowing myself like I do, if the door I’m looking for isn’t there, I’ll build it myself!

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good attitude to take into the new year. I want 2017 to be a year unlike any I’ve experienced before and I know that progression with my book so I can finalize and publish will be a huge aspect of making that come true.

Some of you might be wondering, since it’s been about a month and change since I’ve posted, if I’ll have that sneak peek for Dreamweaver ready by Christmas like I had hoped. At the moment, it’s a little up in the air. The plot shift I experienced over the past weekend changed a bit of what the story is doing and I don’t want to share something that will likely change as I work to solidify its course, but I do want to give you something, even if it’s small. Maybe main character names and backgrounds, maybe a scene that I know won’t change for any reason…I’m not sure yet. But I will try to make sure I have something to offer in the coming days.

In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the days leading up to Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate the holiday, I hope you are still finding joy in the beautiful season that is winter.

I’ll catch up with you all soon!

All Posts, Dreamweaver, My Writing

Sneak Peek #1

Decided to give a little sneak peek since I finally accomplished a fairly large hurdle with this novel! The image below is only a mock-up of a cover I made for my NaNoWriMo page, but I finally have a TITLE! I sort of knew all along that I’d come back to this one, but I wanted to explore a few other options first. At the end of the day, this one just fits best with the story.

I’m planning for sneak peek #2, which will be an excerpt from the novel itself, around Christmas, so stay tuned! And, as always, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me in this endeavor.  🙂

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All Posts, My Writing, Thursday Thoughts

When the Going Gets Tough…

Writing is hard.

I’ve spent two weeks filling a notebook with ideas and then sitting down at my computer only to get back up again because I just didn’t feel ready; my headspace wasn’t where it needed to be.

A lot of people, upon asking what I do for a living, say things like, “Oh, that must be fun!” or, “I’ve always wanted to do that!” and I kind of sit back and say to myself, ‘You know, it is fun, but it’s a damn challenge, too.’

I try to ignore the comments because I feel they sort of discredit what I’ve set out to accomplish. Yes, anyone can write, but I get a bit sensitive when someone mentions writing like a bucket list item. That’s my deal though, and I’m trying not to let it get to me as much, especially since a lot of those people aren’t intending to come across the way I take it.

But sometimes it truly is hard to get around those comments because writing is so hard. You can literally sit and pour hours into a piece only to hit the delete button because it just wasn’t coming together and no amount of editing could save it, pour your heart out onto a page only to question whether anyone will care about what you’re trying to say, and pour your soul into something that you might never see a return on but know that you need to finish it anyway.

On top of the time spent and the amount of yourself you pour into your work, you also have to believe it’s worthwhile. You have to have some semblance of faith in your decision to take this art and craft it into a tangible career prospect because without that faith, it becomes hard to keep pushing.

Because writing is hard.

It’s long hours and not-long-enough days, deadlines and self-discipline, procrastination and stress. It’s research and fact-checking, editing and revising, criticism and constructive feedback. It’s hard work, dedication, rejection, and perseverance. And it takes heart and soul.

Writing is hard because every word you put on a piece of paper or type into a processor is a part of who you are, and I know that for me, I want every word I publish to the world to be composed the right way. I want it to provide the correct and most authentic message, present my genuine voice, and share my ideas in a way I can be proud of.

My greatest fear as a writer is that I’ll embarrass myself somehow or damage my own credibility, or even force something to the point that it no longer reflects who I am. The amount of work that goes into this craft far surpasses simply putting words to a page and is the reason I respect anyone who sets out to make a career out of it.

Despite the drawbacks and seemingly negative aspects, I wouldn’t change my decision to shape my career around writing. It has given me so much more than I could imagine with any other pursuit and at the end of the day, it is my greatest strength and the one thing I know I can make a difference with.

I am definitely not the greatest, nor will I ever come close, but I do hope that I can make an impact in at least one person’s life with what I have to say. And that hope is what helps to keep me going, along with my faith and the fact that I’m not really living unless I’m creating art with my words. It’s how I make sense of the world around me and understand myself in relation to the world, and without it, I would be absolutely lost.

It’s hard, but so worth it.