Friday, January 29, 2016

For the Indie Author

I know I don't talk about Indie publishing as much as I used to. The truth is I fell out of the game when I got pregnant with kid number two back in 2013. I just couldn't keep up, and the landscape changed SO MUCH after this.
Things were hectic, so I've really just focused on writing. 

However, it's not lost on me that:

1) self-published authors can still build an audience and make good money, and

2) more traditionally published authors are going "hybrid" and self publishing some of their works.

I've said it before and I still believe this: it's a great time to be a writer.

Because of this, some encouragement I've posted here before deserves repeating:

First, ebooks are forever.

Second, you never know which ebook you publish will take off.
 Keep writing them. Lots of them.

Third, you never know when an ebook will 
come back around and surprise you.

Be Brilliant!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Throwback: On Writer's Block

This post originally appeared on the blog in Nov. 2014

It was like I woke up one morning and it was GONE.

It came out of nowhere--this not knowing.

Where this story was heading.

The words I needed to tell it.

All. Gone.

And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find them. The words I did find I couldn't make work.

It went beyond "spewing crap," which I encourage every writer to do, even when it's hard: just get something on paper.

I couldn't even spew crap, and it was one of the worst feelings ever, because I AM writing, and writing is ME: we are not one without the other. And at the time I honestly didn't think I would ever get past this block.

Writer's Block

I've been blocked before--sure. I'm a writer. It comes with the territory. But being pregnant with my second kid brought more than just a block. Before, whenever I was stuck, I could do what all good writers suggest and it would work:

Take a break. Read a book. Take a nap. Work on another project. Go for a walk. Movie binge. Go back to the last place everything "worked" and take a different route. . . .

All sound advice.

But what do you do when you're pregnant and puking your guts out every morning, on vitamins and Unisom to make it through the day, and you Just Can't Write?

I knew I needed to get as much written as possible before the baby came, because I would be worthless the first few months after he was born (at the very least), but every time I tried the session would end in anger and frustration and tears. I would write for "hours" with only a few sentences or a paragraph to show for it. 

So I gave up. I put the laptop away. I quit.

I felt like such a failure.

I worried I would be forgotten--that, by the time I was able to publish again people would have moved on. 

I felt incomplete.

So I started drawing--something I've always enjoyed, but never really made time for. And it helped. The block, it seems, only divided the "word" part of my brain from my fingers. Everything else seemed to work just fine.

Drawing became my outlet. My release. It kept me centered. Sane.

Until the baby was born and I was too exhausted to even care about making up stories. Until the holidays passed. Until I started to feel more like myself--still sleep-deprived, but more able to deal with it all. Until one day I picked up my laptop and opened the file. . . .

Here, I confirmed rather quickly that yes--everything I'd tried to add to my story while pregnant was utter crap.

And I fixed it. I removed and reworded.

I was back.

And now I'm here to remind you that this, too, shall pass--whatever it is you're dealing with right now. Whatever is keeping you from giving 100% to your writing or your passion: the block doesn't last forever. 

There are unfortunate realities--realities we have no control over. It's better to just admit that they exist and move on from there. We can't change the reality, but we can choose our attitude--how we deal with it. 

Fact: I had to stop writing for a while. 

It was upsetting, yes, but I began to see it as an opportunity to focus my attention elsewhere. I had to realize that "failing" at writing for all those months didn't make me a failure as a person. 

What's most important is that I learned from the experience and returned at the appointed time. 

And you will, too.

That is all.  :D


Friday, January 22, 2016

A Conversation

Mr. Klein: What are you doing?

Me: (typing maniacally) Writing.

Mr. Klein: But I thought you said you quit. You were crying. You said it's over, that you give up.

Me: Never.

See Also: On Quitting :D


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On Being You

"This, I believe, is the great Western truth: that each of us is a completely unique creature and that, if we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities, not someone else's" (pg 186).


"You can't have creativity unless you leave behind the bounded, the fixed, all the rules" (pg 194).

(Am reading: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell)


The takeaways?

1. You are unique.
2. You have something to offer the world.
3. This gift comes from your own potential and experiences.
4. In order to share this gift (as you're meant to do), you may have to break some rules.

Be Brilliant!


Friday, January 15, 2016

Good Characters

I watched a movie called Bravetown a couple of weeks ago on Hulu. Lately, I find myself analyzing story structure and characters as I'm watching movies, I think to figure out where, exactly, I'm going wrong with my current WIP.

It was a good movie, overall. Sure, there were some conveniences (all of a sudden the dance team is super awesome just because of one DJ's tracks?) and some stilted dialogue (make sure the mom tells the son she never wanted him before he goes away). And the dance scenes weren't even needed, really, except that it's something to bring a small town affected by war together.
But the character development was on point for me.

Teen DJ who overdoses then is sent to live with the dad he's never met? Could've been a total asshole, yet he was a genuinely good guy. Not perfect, but he wasn't rude or mean to anyone on purpose, even the nerd. . . . It was kind of refreshing, actually.

A mom who's dealing with the combat death of her son? Could've been overdone, but there's a perfect balance between mom who's trying to keep the memory of her oldest alive and still be present for her other kids, even if she's failing miserably.

The local shrink dealing with his own PTSD? I loved that he'd rather watch soccer and eat pizza than talk about anyone's problems (especially his own). Plus, Josh Duhamel isn't exactly hard on the eyes.

A+ for good characters, a couple of tearful moments, and a hopeful ending.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This Is Our Story

"Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself. To a certain extent, you become the carrier of something that is given to you from what has been called the Muses. . . . Since the inspiration comes from the unconscious, and since the unconscious minds of the people of any single small society have much in common, what the shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone. So when one hears the seer's story, one responds 'Aha! This is my story. This is something that I had always wanted to say but wasn't able to say'" (pg 71).

Am Reading: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

Friday, January 8, 2016

On Black Moments

"One thing that comes out in myths, for example, is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light" (pg 46).

Am reading: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell


I love the idea of this--that the darkest moments of our lives are the most revealing (and, in many ways, the most necessary).

Because we don't often have those life-changing revelations when things are going well, do we? Nope. It's when shit hits the fan that we start to re-think our priorities. The direction we're heading. Our motives. Where we want to be this time next year. 

Hitting rock bottom is never fun, but if we're willing use that "black moment" to learn and grow, big changes can happen in our lives.

This is true for every "black moment" I've ever experienced. Also? They don't last forever.

It's always darkest before the dawn. :)

Be Brilliant!


Tuesday, January 5, 2016


The other day we were watching a History Channel special on pirates when we recognized one of the "talking heads." It was a Blackbeard actor we'd met at a local festival last year. 

(I hail from North Carolina, so Blackbeard is "our pirate." No, really. One trip to The Outer Banks and you will realize that we OWN him.) 

Anyway, this guy is an expert in all things Blackbeard, and does many school and town appearances and lectures each year, and is obviously great at what he does because, hello, The History Channel.

And I'm like . . . Wow. Now there's a guy who's found his niche. 

That's when I turn to my husband and say: "I'm not an expert in anything."

I have two degrees. I feel like I've been writing and teaching forever, yet I'm an expert in nothing.

This might be why I've never been able to get this blog focused and moving in a specific direction. I have no "platform" because I'm just not a platform kind of person. If there's something I'm interested in, I just sort of put it out there. 

(More often than not, I hold back because . . . relevance.)

So no, there's not much cohesion going on in these parts. Then I think about all of the people who do have a platform and are doing it well, and all the marketing experts screaming "find your platform!" and I'm just like . . . okay. I suck.

But then I heard something in a lecture from Elizabeth Gilbert, and it might just be what sets me free. Because I realized:

I am a hummingbird.

You have your jackhammers, who know what they want and how to get it and never stray off course. And then there are the hummingbirds. We flutter from flower to flower picking up things here and dropping them off there, pollinating everything in our paths. We feed and fly all day long. We can fly up, down, forward, and backward--any direction we want. And we can hover. 

As a writer, I know I'm a jackhammer. I have to write--that's my ultimate purpose.

But, as a human being, I'm a metaphorical hummingbird.

Last year my reading took me from Alaska to China, from the Revolutionary War to rural farms to the desert. It took me from mindfulness to art to goals to education to giftedness to a man named Dabrowski who believed that the trials we face are essential in helping us become our authentic selves. I read about shame and writing and creativity and storytelling and cleaning and the importance of myth.

Up. Down. Forward. Backward.

I find a topic that interests me, I read up on it (sometimes obsessively) until I've sated that need. 


Then I'm on to something else.

And really, I should've come to this conclusion much, much sooner. I have two liberal arts degrees, including a master's in liberal studies. This means I spent my academic years focusing on a "breadth" of knowledge over depth. 

Because this is the person I am--and have always been.

And since "fix the blog" appears on almost every goal list I've ever made, I'm doing something different this year.

I'm not going to fix anything. 

I'm just going to post, and not apologize for the lack of focus--complete randomness, at times. I'm embracing my inner hummingbird. When I find something worth sharing, I'll talk about it. 

This will be a curiosity-driven blog. Like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.

Could be a crazy ride.

But I hope you continue to join me. :D

Be Brilliant!


P.S. If you want to view the Liz Gilbert lecture I referenced, you can find it here. It was a Super Soul Session, and well worth the watch. After watching, I'd love to know if you're a hummingbird or a jackhammer. Because, quite frankly, the world needs all of us.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Setting Goals


It's that time again! 

I know I posted this last year, but I thought it might help to re-post for the "goal-setters" among us. (Or those who'd like to be.)

So, without further ado, five things to remember when setting your goals for the new year:

1. Write the Goals Down

It's proven that just in writing your goals down, you're more likely to accomplish them. Make a list and keep it handy. (But don't overload yourself. Limit your list to the three to ten things you MOST want to accomplish.)

2. Make them Specific

Don't just say you want to "read more" or "write more." Write down how many books you want to read a week. Determine how many words you want to write a day, and which story (or stories) you want to write.

3. Create a Plan and Set Deadlines

What will it take to read a certain number of books in a year? Trips to the library? Penciling "reading time" into your schedule? If I wanted to read six books a month, that's one book every five days. With due dates, that's two individual trips to the library. The first and fifteenth could be designated library days. I could find a quiet place and read for thirty minutes after dinner every evening....

Get an action plan together.

4. Get Out of the Way

I fully believe that we are in control of our own destiny. I'm not a fan of assigning blame, or even letting past events or situations affect our today and tomorrow. Don't sabotage your goals with a negative mindset. 

Believe in yourself.

And that voice in your head that says you can't? He's a liar. Tell him to shut the hell up. 

5. Remember WHY These Goals Were Set

Maybe it's to become more well-rounded. Maybe it's to step outside of a comfort zone. The "why" is just as important as the "what" and "how." This is what you will return to when the road gets tough. 

So . . . what do you want to accomplish in 2016?

Your goals don't have to be reading or writing-related, either. Make this the year you get healthy--both physically and spiritually. Make this the year you save for that trip. Learn that language. Work for that promotion. Make that career change. Go back to school.

Step into your "discomfort" zone. 

Live intentionally.

Figure out what matters most to you and make those tough decisions (if necessary). 

Get moving.

And, as always: Be Brilliant!