What Kind of Architect Are You?


We as writers are  architects of a sort.  W e build and create worlds, universes, characters, and a story that we hope sets the world on fire  as the next phenomenal  success.  OH come on,  we all know writer’s fantasize about such things.

A  great writer and friend recently announced his success with a  huge contract.  I was so excited for him, yet slightly discouraged at my own lack of contract.   I’m not jealous, bear with me here.    I happen to know for a fact that this  person is hard-working and diligent in his writing.

I have to admit a certain  bit of self-pity  for why I didn’t have a  contract, but in all honesty I  let things get to me  and I quit  writing for several months.  First, there was the sabotage and destruction of several years of my work.  I felt devastated and betrayed – how would I ever recover?  * insert melodramatic arm over forehead here*  Which was shortly followed by accusations thrown at me like a barrage of live ammo.  This led to confusion, heartache and more feelings of betrayal.   Then  on the heels of that came the news that my friend  who was in the process of leaving her abusive husband died in a car crash  the day she finally decided to seek shelter in a safe house; she never made it there.  My aforementioned personal grief tied with the grief of her untimely death led me to an automobile accident.  I think sleep apnea also played a part in the unclear thinking as well.

I was far more rattled than I admitted or would ever like to admit.   Between the psychological effects of the other things and the physical injuries from the accident, comments like “Wow you are lucky to be alive” were made light of and  was quickly reminded  why it was all my fault.

I was responsible for the car crash, I freely admit that.  Ruined a perfect driving record up to that point, but no consideration  was extended to me for why suddenly I had a lack of judgment.  Whatever, I’m not trying to make excuses here, just saying it like it is.

My point is I withdrew.  I  didn’t write,  I didn’t talk to many people.  I didn’t do any of the things I knew I should be doing.  I just couldn’t handle it emotionally.   I spent days fighting the sensation that my world was falling apart at the seams, and that  my trust was betrayed on such an intimate level I may never recover.   Through all of it though, I’ve had some great friends that slowly coaxed me out of that shell, and back to my usual self.   Getting the sleep apnea addressed also had a tremendous effect on helping me to get my feet back under me.

It is not easy for an overachiever such as myself to admit failings; any failings or weakness.   It’s not easy to  be in a place physically that  the pain is mind numbing and I can barely walk from the bedroom to the kitchen without wincing.  I’ve been so busy beating myself up over not being able to do the 3.5 miles that I was doing just a year ago, that I didn’t allow myself any  sort of praise or sense of accomplishment for walking 1.8 miles because it was a ridiculously slow pace.  I was too focused on what I didn’t do to acknowledge that it was 1.8 miles more than I was able to do a few short months ago.

Set backs happen.  We just aren’t used to them happening to us.  I’m a great coach for my friends, cheering them on with the smallest accomplishments but extend absolutely no mercy or grace for my own small progress.

So, you may be thinking I’ve gone  on another tangent but I haven’t.  You see, my friend Abyrne’s success was a reminder to me of  what I was working for, what I’ve been trying to achieve.  Before my life went to hell, people were coming to me for advice, for hints and tips. After I crashed and burned –  sat on my butt and felt sorry for myself and reverted to old habits – nobody was seeking me out for advice.

Several people have  given me opportunities to assist them  in building their own dreams.  I took a few, let a few pass.  Maybe I chose the wrong ones, maybe I didn’t, but every single choice is a learning experience.  In each  opportunity was a hard and fast reminder of  my architecture.

What am I building?   In assessing  what I’ve  done for this year, not much.   I hooked my wagon to a team of horses that didn’t go to the destination  they claimed.  I’ve given a lot of hard work to someone else’s dreams meanwhile my own blueprints lay on the light table gathering dust.   I’ve been building someone else s dreams, not my own.

How in the world can I be upset with Abyrne?  He has been diligently plodding away  doing what writers do while I  wallowed in my own self pity and newly acquired injuries wishing it to happen.  It doesn’t work that way.  Nobody is going to work on my dreams.  Nobody is going to build my dream castle. Yet, here i was giving some of my best efforts to someone else s dreams.   Whose fault is that?

NO, Abyrne inspired me to  do what I knew to do in the first place which is to write. I know I can write well.  I know I can put a good story together.  I’ve spoken publicly and had the audience rolling, holding their sides from laughter.  I also know I can put another sort of story together that keeps my readers on the edge of their seat wanting more and turning the next page.

So . . .

I am exercising that little word that I have trouble with – NO!  I am reclaiming my own dreams and blueprints.  I am spending less and less time  donating my time to  other people’s dreams and building my own!  I  Like Pitbull, the artist.  I like the line he says in “Feel this Moment”:

Time is  money only difference is I own it! Like a stopwatch let’s stop time and enjoy this moment.

I can’t say that I owned it.  I knew better – know better!  When you recognize a bad habit though you change it.  Working class exchange time for money whether in a 9 to 5 job or through  other means of income.  Wealthy class exchange money for time.  I want to get to the point where I can pay  someone else  to do the things that are taking up too much of my time.   For now I have to regain  my time for money and it’s not for minimum wage.  I have skills, knowledge and abilities.  My time is valuable and I have to be the one to set the boundaries.

Here’s a truth that is universal:  people will treat you like you will let them treat you.  How are you being treated?  Do you like it?  Do you feel like you should be treated better? Treated with respect?  What are you doing that  you are allowing them to use you and treat you poorly?

I  was feeling sorry for myself and  feeling like I wasn’t worth anything.  I was being treated as such. NO MORE!

My architectural firm just began  its latest project: a long overdue dream castle!

What  are you building?

Write on my friends, and don’t  sell yourself short!

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Nano Nano!


An interesting thing happened  on the way to my appointment.  I got slammed!  Completely waylaid, left staggering.

I was sincerely stunned.   Here’s the thing:  I’ve posted in various groups  about my own personal blog as well as the Storytime Blog.  I have posted in this group since November of 2011, and I’ve been posting the blogs since February of 2012.  Today however, there was issue taken with sharing the  Storytime blog.  It was ‘ offensive’ to some and our group was reported as spam and pornography.  NICE!

Interestingly enough, this post was my  episode for Oral Dilemma, and the characters don’t even so much as kiss!  Y’all have to admit, for some of my episodes that is really tame. What followed was a series of personal messages informing me I was promoting child pornography and had no integrity,

First of all let me say this:  * clears throat, steps up to microphone, giving  stern expression*

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and  a mentor and teacher for  other survivors, I will in no way ever support, encourage, promote or in any way condone anything that  in any way is child pornography.  I have given into Crisis Aid International for the purpose of removing children from  the sex trade industry.

I in no way would ever, EVER be involved in a group that would write  in such a way that glorifies sexual predators or sexual abuse.

I am the managing editor for Storytime Trysts, and although I do not read every single episode, I have read the outlines and submissions for each author that  is hosted on Storytime. We’ve always maintained the strictest guidelines as to age of characters involved in the stories.   Even though we are fiction writers, this subject is taken very seriously.

I understand that the writing on the blog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.   We’ve never forced anyone to view material that is unsuitable for under aged children.  If you click on the link, the first page you land on is a disclaimer that informs  the reader that it is adult material.  you have to accept in order to go beyond that page.

What saddens me the most is the attacks that ensued, and  the  continued slanderous comments that were made long after I left the group.   Personal messages  that I  am a heathen, immoral woman, that I am a purveyor of pornographic smut, a smut peddler, and  a threat to decent society made my jaw drop.  ME?  They were accusing me of these things.

I do understand that  many object to  the erotica, but to call me all those things?   Really?

I’m an overprotective mother of two beautiful teen girls.   I am not peddling anything.  I thought, that the idea of the Storytime blog was a good idea,  that idea being to get author’s work out there and stir up some interest in their writing and to showcase their work in the hopes that someone  or several someones will enjoy their writing and  want to   follow that author.  Storytime offers more than erotica.  It features poetry, flash fiction, romance, YA romance, paranormal romance, and more.

I don’t know the individuals that attacked me and the posting of the blog.  I don’t want to know them now at all.  I have many friends that came to my  aid  on their own accounts to say that i was within the guidelines to post, that I didn’t violate any rules.  Thank you to every one of my friends that did this – it means a lot to me.

It saddens me that  this group has gone down hill, that the majority of  ” new blood” on there are  shallow, superfluous  people dabbling at writing that feel the need to criticize those that are actually writing.  I skimmed many posts before this happened and shook my head at the lack of writing, reading, and research they were doing and willing to do – because you know it’s much easier to make a post in a group and  have everyone else answer your question than to Google it.

The admins of the group are wonderful people, people who I respect.  I had to leave  though, before my Irish temper kicked in and I blasted everyone with a fiery tongue that  I could never take back.

I was willing to just walk away  until we were reported for child pornography.  THAT is a serious charge.  When I find out who made these accusations I  will be contacting necessary persons to find out exactly what legal recourse I have.

This isn’t Junior high people, and we aren’t  the geeks with braces for you to kick around and bully.  Some of us are adults that  are serious about the craft, whatever genre that we write in.  Be careful what fight you pick, you just might lose.

I hope everyone else’s day was tons better than mine.

Write on my friends, even if  the critics hate  your genre, write your  heart out baby!

Gone With the Wind?


liar

Amazing!  Absolutely amazing!

This is the kind of stuff that only happens to me,  or is it? I’m at the park doing my walk/jog for my morning workout and my brain is working overtime.  I know what I’m going to blog, I know what I’m going to write, what the characters are going to do next, the conversation that is going to take place, the cliffhanger before the next chapter, I know  how I’m going to bridge the scenes I am working on.

Then comes the hill. It’s only a slight little incline, maybe a 10% grade with an elevation change of about 50 feet.  Not really a big deal.  At the top I ran into my cousin and we talked for a few minutes.  Ooh shiny!

My mind is playing over the scene in detail now,  down to the clothing choices.  Really Roxanne?  That was the best thing you could wear to announce your engagement?  Hey look at that goose over there with the babies,  there must be eight little goslings  and the rest of the geese have older goslings.

At this point the  humidity ( 78%) and the temperature ( 86F) are getting to me when Runkeeper announces  ” thirty-five minutes.  1.48 miles. 21 minutes 14 seconds per mile” .  Shut up already I know I’m going slow!

I’m not going to make it!  It’s a long way back to the car.  I consider the last wind sprint, looking around to see if anyone is watching the fat chick trying  to run.  I decide it’s safe and  go into a little faster jog – not quite a sprint but  for me at that time it was about all I could muster.  Save yourselves, go on without me.  Two minutes later I am sucking wind and gasping  as I reach the car.

Get my water,   head home, shower then sit down at the computer to write. . . and nothing.  What were those conversations?  What was that scene?  Oh come on, at least the bridge?  Hello?  Any cells working up there?  Isn’t it ironic that I remember the conversation with my cousin, but can’t remember the rest?

So, do I use my smart phone for the runkeeper AP  or use the voice recorder to record my thoughts?  I don’t know but I feel like pounding my head on the table here to knock them loose or something.

Then I cycle through the songs.   Maybe that’s it, I need my playlist to spark the  creativity.  Nope, all that did was manage to get me sidetracked watching videos and a silly expression as I listened to Rob Thomas croon.

My current word count sits at 650, and now I have to attend to  family needs. Meanwhile, I hope that Roxanne chooses something a little nicer than the pair of jeans with the ripped knee and  the  cropped graphic tee under Luke’s hoodie.  WAIT!  I’ve got it!  It’s coming back now.  I just needed fuel in my tummy and a few minutes to warm up.

Alright folks, I am gone like the wind.  Off to write the next installment of Oral Dilemma and then to work on Love Notes revisions.

Sometimes the process isn’t seamless.  Sometimes there are kinks in the flow of things.  The important thing is to never quit.

Write on my friends, write on!

Pins, Needles, and Uzis


fengshui

Well it seems I’ve managed to  upset the delicate balance of  Feng shui of the writer’s world with my post on editing yesterday.   In one sense I haven’t had this type of feedback since I did my series on Harry Potter.  In another sense, writers are prickly creatures.

I knew,  before I ever hit that publish button, I knew that  when I do these  “things that tick me off” posts I should really let them sit for a day or two before I hit publish, but I didn’t.  Nope, I impulsively wrote out my thoughts, did a quick edit and  hit publish.  Then the clock began to tick.  One comment, then two, then twenty – then  my email is flooded, and my private  messaging on Facebook.  Thank goodness for the option to post or not post comments!

Wow!  People really do read my blog even though I’ve been out for a long, long time battling  injuries  and health issues.  I didn’t want to  dwell on it or post about it because I don’t want  anyone to think I am making excuses for myself.  I simply was trying to work through my issues however slow it was.  Thank you everyone that ever bothers to read  my little platform here, I greatly appreciate all of you!

Now back to the editing post, If you will reread my post from yesterday, you will notice that I never  used anyone’s name. I did not  slam  anyone’s work.   I have different  avenues that I edit for and it’s amazing to me that  everyone assumes it’s them.  I have made every  mistake that can be made. I am not innocent of  the editing issues. My point is we should strive for excellence improving our work.

None of us are  producing gold right out of the shoot.  Stephen King had an editor. J K Rowling had an editor.  Until the next Shakespeare comes along,  the rest of us need to practice good writing etiquette.

Let’s face it, in today’s competitive market every  advantage that you can get is needed.  If you as a writer have a cleaner, easier to read manuscript than  Tom, Bob and Harry then  you rise above theirs and yours doesn’t end up in the slush pile.

The same principle applies to self publishing and in fact  if you are self publishing take the time to hire a good editor.   Don’t skip steps to speed up the process!  Quality first,  quantity second.

This is the difference between an aspiring writer and a serious  writer.  A serious writer wants to perfect their craft not just get something out there to check something off of a list.  I am guilty of being overly conscious and  obsessive compulsive about  my work.  Trust me there is  no  one as critical of my own work than I am. I have finished manuscripts now that I need to take that next big plunge and actually submit my work.

I briefly  mentioned that point; the  cutting of the umbilical cord step. That is the step I am currently working on.

So, enough nonsense about editing.  I originally wanted to post an excerpt of my writing yesterday.  There are times when I actually am satisfied with a passage that I have written,  it’s rare.   I can’t compare to Hemingway’s obsessiveness but there are times when I  have rewritten a section so many times that I lose count.

Last week  as I was editing and revising Faere Warrior, I hit upon the magical combination and  the secret doors inside the mystery caves of my mind opened.   I hadn’t been in  ” The Zone” like that for some time.   Being off  medication helps.  I think the editing helped even though it has taken time from my writing.  This week  it was easier to  find the combination again.

Here’s just one passage of this week’s contribution to Storytime Trysts.  This  didn’t turn out   to follow my original outline at all.   In fact, I am having to rework my outline but that’s a good thing.  The even that was to mark this week’s goal didn’t happen so in essence I just extended  my work by at least two chapters.

So here it is, a little excerpt from Oral Dilemma.  Let me know what you think!

  The glass shattered on the floor, ice tea went everywhere. NO! It couldn’t be true. Not my mom, it was a mistake – a horrible cruel joke from Tara. My mom was strong, invincible. She was an amazing woman that did it all. She was only 45! Luke came running to see what happened. There I stood pale white, broken glass in a pool of tea at my feet. I’m not even sure if anything was said after that on the phone, it was a blur.

Considering that  none of this was in my original outline, I think it’s turning into a real story  that takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride through the ups and  downs  that are life, including a few curve balls.  Stay tuned though because after the curve ball is an F4 tornado!

H ow can you grow if you never go through a few trials? The trials carve us from a lump of clay into  the  masterpiece.

So while I  sit  at my editor’s desk jabbing  pins and needles at  other writer’s works, I am dodging  live fire from Uzis by  the critics that I have  angered.  It’s all  good,  it keeps me on my toes.

Write on my friends, write on!

From the Editor’s Desk


redpen

I’ve spent a lot of time editing for other writers over the past several months.  I’ve reached a point where I   have to limit my time editing so I can actually spend time on my own writing. Editing for others has a two prong effect:  It encourages me to write my own material because good writing pulls on me to write as well, and bad writing taps my ego to say – I can do better than this.   Just being honest people, writer’s have a good share of ego or else we wouldn’t think our stuff needs to be read by the masses.

So, having said that I’m going to air a few of my ‘Are you kidding me?’ thoughts as an editor.

* clears throat*

When you submit your manuscript — that baby you’ve coddled for however long, that special creation that you’ve birthed through pain and agony — do yourself a favor and  present the best manuscript you can.

Here are a few tips that you, the author can tackle yourself.    These are common things, so don’t feel like you’re a hack because you find these things in your manuscript.

  1. If it shows up in Word underlined by red, green, or blue – address it.  Misspelled words, unique spellings, proper names are all tagged as well as sentence fragments and extra spaces. If Word catches it  you’ll be damn certain  the editor will.
  2. Make certain that your formatting issues are addressed; appropriate page breaks and spacing. Check the submission guidelines for each publisher s they may vary.
  3. Correct grammatical use of common homophones: to, too, two; they’re their, there; etc.
  4. Sentence structure matters people! Fragments, dependent clauses, infinitive phrases, participle phrases, run ons, the gerund phrase –  it matters.  If you are going to write – WRITE WELL OR FRIGGIN’  GO HOME!
  5. Mechanics – basic grammatical skills.  I’m not saying that everyone needs to be a grammar Nazi, but could we at least keep it to the same  mechanical structure of the English language? ( As I edit in English I can’t speak for other languages, and slang and backwoods redneck speak do not qualify unless it is part of the dialog between characters. )
  6. Do NOT rely solely upon spell check, it will count something correct because it is a word, but the sentence will not make any sense:  “As  they bled out on the slow covered alley, my heart sank in my chest.  They were truly gone.”  Slow is a word but the correct word should be snow.  READ YOUR WORK!  Better yet, read it aloud, you’ll catch more mistakes that way.
  7. Punctuation:  Can I buy a comma for $500 Alex! Punctuation is important.  EXAMPLE:  Let’s eat mother!  Let’s eat, mother!  It makes a difference!
  8. Dangling bits:  Nope I’m not talking about erotica, although it happens there as well.  I’m talking about the dangling verbals, phrases, clauses, the dangling participle.   Would I be way off base here in suggesting that anyone who is serious about writing should take at least the basic English composition class?
  9. VERBS:  plural versus singular, keeping things consistent.
  10. TENSE: * facepalm* In the latest piece I was editing, I got so confused whether i was in the past, present, or future tense that I literally had to get up and walk away.
  11. PRONOUNS:  Oh good Lord what a mess!  Ever read something where he met  this guy and he  handed his bag to her,  her father giving glowering looks  at their hands touching as she leaned in to kiss him?  Which him????  The author listed four different hims – which one is she going to kiss?   I’m assuming not her father, although giving daddy a kiss is the least offensive thing in this little scene.
  12. Incorrect  word usage: Know the definition of the word you are using because what you are saying  isn’t necessarily what you think you are saying.

This is just a quick down and dirty list, trust me, more will follow.  We all need to edit ourselves before we think our baby is ready for the big publishing world. I’m guilty of  some of these myself, it’s why I am a firm believer in self editing.  My first drafts are not fit for public viewing.

However, there also comes the point when  the writer has to let their baby stand on it’s own and cut the umbilical cord. This post is not a vent about any particular writer.  It’s an overall view from seeing many mistakes in various submissions and  manuscripts.

Write on my friends – and do it to the best of your abilities!

PLEASE!