Friday, March 31, 2017

Day 31 - Finding Confidence

I read an anonymous quote earlier today that says "The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn't write." As difficult as it can be at times we have to remember that just the act of putting words down on paper is more important than planning forever without following through. I myself have been guilty of doing it for years. I will write something and then let it sit as a file on my computer or a pile of printed pages in need of editing but my insecurities keep me from moving forward.

I read books that are designed to improve my writing. I do hours of research and create files to keep myself organized. The one thing I seem to fail at more than anything however is actually writing. I spend all of my time preparing for the incredible thing I am going to write and then I find some reason to put it off further. On the occasions I do write I end up storing my work to look at and edit eventually.

That is what happened with Breathe. It is also the current fate of Voices In My Head, Voices 2 - Hunting Jonny, Sharing Strength, and Welcome to Syn. Every single book has been drafted, or in the case of Voices 2 almost drafted, yet they are sitting around collecting dust. I seem to focus on the "worst thing you write" part and forget about the fact I can edit to fix the issues. It has been a major struggle for me for years.

I think like many writers I battle insecurities. There is the fear that even if I do write it and try to edit I won't be able to edit enough to make it work. I will still fall short somehow. I have had that struggle in several aspects of my life yet for the most part I have overcome those fears. I lost a large amount of weight and put myself out there in the public eye in my day job. I continued to believe in my love life even after my second divorce. I became a distance cyclist and obstacle course competitor after getting several injured a little over a decade ago. All things I have done that flies in the face of those insecurities. It would have been easy to use any of those excuses to not push through and keep trying to make something of myself so why is writing such an issue?

Honestly I believe it is because whether I publish or not writing is my therapy. The thought that I might blow a tire or fall of an obstacle is hard but easy enough to recover. Worrying that I might slip on my diet and regain a little of my weight or make a mistake at my job, frustrating but able to overcome. Writing is my heart and soul. It is something that when I am hiding from the world and fighting back from one of those other things I can turn to my writing and be in a different world. it is much more difficult to consider the possibility that I would fail and ruin my happy place. I am learning to get past that though and focus on the something is better than nothing part of the quote instead.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Day 30 - Showing Excitement

I learned recently when you are planning to pitch a book, whether in person or through a query, it is important to share your passion for your subject. I sat with several authors, a publisher and an agent as we discussed our pending projects. The ski-fi and fantasy authors were so thrilled as they explained the worlds they created, the romance authors expounded upon the relationships they share in their books while the horror authors had a blast telling creepy teasers of the bad guys in their stories. The book I was talking about was Sharing Strength, my PTSD book about a support group and the interactions of each meander of the group.

Sharing Strength is a very serious topic in a fictional story. It is difficult to show the same kind of excitement when discussing such a tense subject. PTSD is a part of my soul and I have no problem talking about it. The problem is that when I talk about it I get tears in my eyes. That is not the way I want to look as I pitch a book. It does lend itself to showing the authenticity of my desire to share the story and the fact I myself was diagnosed with PTSD twelve years ago shows that it is something I know well but it is still frustrating to try and get someone interested when you have to share your interest while fighting to keep your composure.

As we hung out and chatted I found myself trying to lighten the mood after Sharing Strength had put everyone in a semi-serious attitude. We made our way to the hotel bar and I proceeded to try to make people laugh telling them about my day job as a casino dealer. After a couple quips I managed to make them laugh and they began asking to hear more. As I continued to laugh and tell fun little stories I suddenly found a card from another agent sliding in front of my face.

The excitement I was showing as I spoke about the fun of my job was translating into a passion that made others want to know more. I was asked by the end of the night for copies of the manuscript by four different agents. I insisted it wasn't a book and I wasn't pitching but they loved the idea so much they pushed back, insisting just as hard that I write it anyway. I am now working on my first agent deadline and creating the funny dealer book I apparently was pitching without realizing it. Finding that subject you are passionate about and being able to share that can be step one in getting an agent, publisher and eventual book deal. I can't wait to see how this turns out.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day 29 - Excerpt From Breathe

     Breathe. Back in the shower Kelsey realized while reminiscing she had been lightly tapping her forehead against the wall. She could feel a small headache growing behind her eyes. She stepped back rubbing her eyes. She groaned internally as her aching muscles rebelled against every movement she made. She stretched her arms out behind her then let them fall again feeling every fiber of her being longing to simply lay down and relax.
     She reached up to adjust the shower head, finding the kneading setting then turned around trying to smile as the powerful flow struck her back. She winced as the water attempted to burrow the heat deep into the knotted mass of her shoulders. However, as quickly as the smirk danced across her lips, it fell away again. There, drifting across the back wall of the shower stall was Naomi’s face. Her limp hair now tangled, her glasses askew but the nervous glance had been replaced with fear and a twinge of anger.

     The simple girl with a family Kelsey had never met or even known about before today, now a glaring memory that would follow her forever. She tried keeping eye contact but it was impossible to win a staring contest with a figment of her imagination. With a sigh she gave up. She backed into the flow of the shower letting the water run all the way through her hair. The heat was intense but she was barely unaware. With her eyes closing once again, heart beating faster than it should, she reached for the shampoo and thought to herself again, just breathe.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day 28 - Playing The Part

I am currently working on finishing up a book a began years ago but has sat collecting dust until I could figure out what was missing. Now I have found myself promoting the upcoming release of it this summer so it is nose to the grindstone time. However as I work on editing and rewriting Breathe I am also working hard on several other projects at the same time.

One of the things I have always loved about so many of my fellow author's books is that they lend themselves to fan art and even people dressing up as characters. My books are realistic fiction and while someone could dress up as a ballerina for Never Give Up, for the most part my books are not designed for that kind of a following. At least most of them aren't. There is a series I am working on that I was discussing a few days ago that could end up being a lot of fun in the cosplay world.

Once I get done with my book I am writing about being a dealer for the requesting agent, complete and publish Breathe and fix the errors in Sharing Strength I have two series I will be working to complete. One of them is my thriller series which currently stands at four books and revolves around the dangerous world of characters and their desire to run their own lives. the second is a seven book series set during the time of the Salem witch trials and has elements of fantasy, light erotica and drama to them.

The historical fantasy series is one I am excited to promote because it will allow me to reach into the fantasy and sic-fi worlds to meet new readers as well as attend events such as comic-cons and get dressed up as the women in the books for promotional purposes. I have seen people at other book shows that dress up as well. they are usually Steampunk or Fantasy writers and sometimes Children's authors will either dress up or bring a custom made stuffed animal or character from their stories.

I have been looking for ways to be able to incorporate things like that into my displays and promotional work but at this point I think I will have to wait until I get to my Syn series to dress up. I am already designing the costume though and am looking forward to unveiling it as well as the book at the eventual launch. Until then I will just enjoy joining my author friends in promotion of their books and keep looking for my own unique elements.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Day 27 - Learning From Feedback

Back in January I decided to enter the NYC Short Story competition. I had never entered anything like that before and had no idea what I was getting into. I read through the information several times but as is usual for me I forgot everything by the time it was going on. I was attending the conference in San Diego when I got the email notifying me that the competition had begun but even then I was so wrapped up in current events I managed to forget about it.

The way the competition works is that everyone that enters gets split up into heats for the first round. Each heat is assigned a genre, character and story element. For me it was a Thriller based on a Stay At Home Mother and the story element was A Wrong Number. You were given eight days from the start of the competition to submit a polished, edited short story with a maximum of twenty-five hundred words. By the time I realized it was happening and found my assignment I only had four days left.

Yes I was rushed but other than some editing errors I am not sure I would have changed much since I had no idea what I was doing. I did make it in under the deadline and then the waiting began. Every person that submitted was of course considered but they also received feedback. The deadline for submission was the end of January but we didn't receive the results of the people moving on to the second round until just last Monday on March twentieth. I knew I wouldn't be moving on which was quickly confirmed. I wasn't disappointed but I was eager to see the feedback.

That part came the next day. I read through it and while I did receive praise for having a fresh, original idea, a "Hitchcockian twist" and an ability to write simply and straightforward without sounding trite I was more focused on the criticism. I didn't want to be torn to pieces but I wanted to see what I could do to strengthen my story.

I did begin with a cliche and was called out for it immediately and there were those editing errors I mentioned previously. I had also changed the ending at the last minute when writing the story and from the notes it sounds like my original idea would have gone over a lot better. I think the biggest takeaway from that was that I should have followed my instincts. The cliche I could have written out if I had given myself more time but time management has always been a struggle for me. This is just another push to improve that aspect of my working life. Editing falls under the time management issue as well. I did my best to look over it but I was under the pressure of meeting the deadline that I made even more difficult than it already was.

The thing I am focusing on the most is that I can only get better with more practice. I am grateful for the feedback because it was constructive and gave me not only things I can do to improve but reasons to believe in my abilities as well. I am now looking forward to submitting again next year but also for places to keep submitting to this year as well.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Day 26 - Author Spotlight

I am beyond excited to be spending some time over at Booksurfer Blog today doing a spotlight. I will be there from ten this morning until three this afternoon posting on and off throughout that time as I get ready for a takeover next weekend! It has been a long time since I have done either a spotlight or a takeover but it is always fun to get the chance to chat with other writers and readers and meet new friends. Because it has been so long I have been reading through the spotlights of other authors on the page in order to get some ideas.

Pictures from events seem to be popular. It makes sense because pictures are generally popular on any page. People enjoy the visual. I know I myself am drawn to vibrant colors and beautiful settings far more quickly than to a long text-filled post. that isn't to say that I don't read posts, I am just more stimulated by the pictures and videos. Because of that I am going through my pictures and realizing I need to get better at taking and creating promotional pictures and videos.

Sharing events the author attended in general also seems to be big. Again it make sense, sharing other places you have been and events you have attended shows people you are out promoting. If you can share pictures with people that have bought your work that lends further credibility to you as an artist. I am terrible at remembering to do that but I am working on trying to get more pictures with other authors and my readers.

Links to your work are vital. There is little reason to promote yourself and tell people about your books if you don't share how them as well. We are trying to grow our exposure, that's great. We also ultimately want to grow our sales and our reader base for future work. As I am getting ready to release my next book this summer I would love to connect with people that not only could enjoy the two books I already have out but may be interested in my upcoming book Breathe.

Last but certainly not least is letting people get to know you. Not just you as an author but you as a person. We like to support our friends and when we feel like people see us as more than dollar signs we are more likely to help them out. Connecting can be difficult but is a key component of growing those relationships. I am learning to reach out and then maintain those communications but it is still a challenge. I am excited for today though and cannot wait to do more like it.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Day 25 - Taking Time To Be A Kid

Today I don't have to go to my day job, hooray! I like what I do, in fact I love what I do for a living, but today I am beyond excited to be spending the day differently. First I get to go do a local author showcase at the Clark County Library. Those are always fun and I get to try out my new banner for the front of my table. I am thrilled just to be doing that part. But when I get done I have an even better day planned.

The weather is supposed to be cloudy but no rain and in the upper 60s to lower 70s. That sound like the perfect situation to be walking around outside checking things out at a festival. What kind of festival could I be going to? The best kind ever to me, Monster Trucks. Every March for on weekend the Monster Jam World Finals takes over Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas for three days and puts on a larger than life, high-octane blowout. I have gone every years since I moved here.

I love the adrenaline, the screaming fans and the creativity of those that get in the spirit to meet their favorite drivers. It is a world unto its own. Not only do I enjoy watching trucks in excess of 10,000 pounds go flying through the air but I love the sensation of letting go and being a child for a night or two. there is something freeing about attending any event where you can just relax and have fun like that.

A few years ago I even found out that a driver from Monster Jam and one of my charity books had a connection. A story that was submitted to my Rescue Me series (currently being revamped) was about a therapy dog for a wonderful autistic boy in California. He loved Monster Jam even more that I do and had named his dog after his favorite driver. I had the good fortune of being able to go and present her with a copy of the book and share the incredible story with her. It brought her to tears, she was so touched.

Sometimes no matter what else you have going on in your life, it is important to stop and take some time to be a kid again. I love a number of the trucks but since that day with the Rescue Me book the Monster Mutt Dalmatian and the driver Candice Jolly have always had a special place in my heart. Go Monster Mutt Dalmatian and go have some child-like fun!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Day 24 - Reading

I have the opportunity to attend a book festival next year and sit on a panel with a New York Times bestseller if I have a book drafted in time for her to read through it. So, you might wonder, why the hell am I not elbows deep in the manuscript doing everything in my power to crank out the book  as fast as humanly possible? It is simple, I have never written in that articular genre before. I have a number of ideas but nothing solid or even a concept fully realized. She is very important to me and I want to make sure that when I send her the manuscript (yes she said first draft was fine but I will obsess over editing until the last minute) it is at least in decent shape.

One thing I am doing in order to prepare for writing that book is reading. Not just sitting around curled up with the next book in my To Be Read pile that current dominates my nightstand and has completely covered the second nightstand in my bedroom, I am borrowing murder mystery books from the library and from friends like it is going out of style. I am also reading books in all of her series to see how she creates her stories, goes from one book to the next and how she keeps e different series separate aside from sets of characters.

I know the main concept of my book (or if I do it correctly, books) but there is a great amount a research to be done as well as understanding the genre itself. So once again I am reading. There is something magical about being able to go to the library and browse for an hour and call it work. I also am known to request my local book stores and meander through different sections when I am hunting or researching different genres. There have even been days I have stalked the shelves of the Barnes & Nobel a few miles from my house for the singular purpose of finding the shelf I wish my book would sit on someday.

before I begin working on my next project, my first murder mystery, I will be finishing up the current projects clogging my schedule and staring at me from their looming deadlines. Reading in any genre can help improve writing skills however so I will be sticking with this current course as I finish what I am working on and then I will be diving head first into the first of what will hopefully become a fun new world for me.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day 23 - Writing Break

Today I am focusing on something other than my writing. I still, of course, want to accomplish my goals. I even brought the book I am currently editing to work so I could go through it n my breaks at my day job. I have been somewhat focused, if a little frustrated, on my blog and writing during this forty day challenge. I haven't read, written or edited as much as I originally planned but I am working hard to make sure I do get some writing done everyday.

My goals are not singular however and I am working toward things outside of my writing life simultaneously. One of the biggest is my weight loss / fitness goals. I have the goals of finishing at least three 5Ks, one half marathon, three distance bike rides and an obstacle course this year. I have yet to do any of them but a few days ago I began my training for the obstacle course which will in turn help with my 5K training as well. Any cardio training helps with the bike rides and for the half marathon my biggest concern is stamina. training is a must.

One thing I learned a long time ago about myself is that I cannot simply go to the gym and workout. I need to be working toward something. Not only does my goal need to be attainable but it needs to be specific and have an end date to say "Okay, I accomplished that." I can't just say I want to lose weight, I need to say I want to get down to 150 pounds. I cannot say I want to run faster but I would like to finish a 5K in half an hour. It isn't enough to improve stamina but I want to cross the half marathon finish line. I need something to train for.

Even though today is very fitness oriented it all comes back to writing. I look at my writing the same way. I don't just want to write but I need to get 2000 words in before I go to bed. I don't want to write more often but I need to post on my blog every day for a month. I don't just want to edit my book eventually, I want to have it published and ready to go by the Vegas Valley Book Festival in October. Today I am spending almost all of my time plotting out the exercise part of this training regiment but I am in no way abandoning writing for the sake of working out. It is all about finding that balance and making sure I can accomplish everything I set out to do.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day 22 - Promotion Day

I am genuinely excited today. Part of any job is the learning curve. We jump in feet first and then we go through trail and error over and over again until we learn the best ways to accomplish our goals. One of the things I struggle with as an author is getting my name and my work out there in front of the readers. I am terrible with online promotions or almost anything that has to do with social media. That is one learning curve I can predict will take a very long time to master.

I do enjoy attending book shows but I have little marketing material to help push me or my work. I have bookmarks, though I need to redesign them, business cards that were redone a few months ago and wristbands that have the name of one of my books on them but that is all I currently possess. When I went to my first big book show I saw tables with banners across the front, signs behind the table and swag all over that tied in with the stories.

The swag was what gave me the idea of the wristbands. I wear one myself and they are available at my table when people purchase the book. I am still working on ideas for swag to promote myself and my work but I did finally manage to design and order the banner and sign like I have seen other authors use. They are coming in the mail today. I have a signing on Saturday this week and while I do not think I will have the room to use them there I am thrilled to know I can use them at the signing coming up in a few weeks called Authorpalooza.

I attended the show last year and was amazed as I looked around at all of the authors with their banned, signs and sign up sheets for their newsletter. I didn't have any of those things, at the time I didn't even have a website. I fixed my shortcoming on the website aspect just about a month ago. With the sign and banner coming I am feeling more like a professional author, prepared to take on the next show.

I cannot say at this point how much it will help to have these items but the visibility cannot hurt. Just as my goal of having another book ready to publish can be nothing but an asset to grow my business. I am working to create a newsletter but still have some research to do on that checklist item. For right now I am just going to sit here excited and wait to get home so I can see my new promotion purchases!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day 21 - Looking Forward

One of the things I love most about being an author is the ability to use that gift to help others. I have put on two different charity events while promoting my work. While the energy expended is incalculable and the frustrations can and often do lead to periodic breakdowns it is worth it in the end. In fact the success of the For The Love Of Books event that I and my partner put on this past February has pushed us to do another one next year. We will be sticking with the same name but this year we are moving to a literary charity and cannot wait to have a focused theme.

The multi-author For The Love Of Books 2017 worked with a veteran charity. There were flyers and social media ads promoting the event. We had a great group of authors come out covering a number of genres and were able to raise our goal financially while exceeding our goal of donated items by almost three hundred percent. one of the biggest successes for me personally came when one of the attending authors said they would love to be a part of any event we put on. It meant they were happy with the outcome and gave confidence to us moving ahead for the next one.

There are a number of aspects to work on when doing an event like that. Advertising, recruitment, and of course things to help raise money and draw people in are major priorities. There is one part that most people overlook and that is the amount of time it takes to put something like this together. We only had six weeks from beginning of planing to the day of the event. This year we will have closer to ten months. We are already making lists of things to and going over items from this year we would like to change for next year. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done but we are capable and with each other's support plus the help of our fellow authors I am positive we can make each event bigger and more successful for the very deserving charities we work with.

Knowing the concerns we faced this year I am glad we have so much more time to plan for the next go round. I am equally grateful for the support of our friends to come out and make what we do matter. We love being authors, it affords us the unique ability to make money and make a difference using the knowledge and creativity in our hearts and minds. We are fortunate enough to love what we do so we give back by using what we love to help others that aren't quite as fortunate. I am looking forward to sharing details as the plans for next year begin to come together.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Days 19 & 20 - Two For One

Yesterday was an odd day schedule wise. I usually work my day job from noon until eight at night but another dealer needed to switch shifts and I found myself punching in at the unbelievably early time of eight in the morning. I was supposed to stay until four in the afternoon however I requested to leave early if we had extra dealers and as of one in the afternoon we did. It was a good, albeit early, start to the day. I left work feeling ready to take on the rest of the day and be productive.

When I got home I ran some errands with my boyfriend to go look at RVs, something we have been shopping for over the past few years and are getting close to finally purchasing. After that we were off to the store and then some yard work before I left to meet up with my co-author for the book on dealing and casino life. So far so good on the productivity.

My co-author and I discussed a few ideas over dinner then ventured downtown to walk around and people watch as we looked for inspiration. We did find a few ideas though not as many as we had initially hoped for the nearly three hours we spent there. All in all still a good day. It wasn't until this morning that I realized I had failed for the first time since starting my forty day challenge I had managed to forget to post here on my blog.

I was still mildly distracted from the frustrating feelings of depression that started plaguing me Saturday morning but I also seemed to just find things to keep my mind so busy I never even thought about it. Because of that I am covering the events of yesterday that pulled my focus as well as some thoughts for today. With the issues from the depression and the distractions of yesterday I can't help but think today that bouncing back is a great path to follow mentally.

There are so many sayings in life that have to do with recovery. "I isn't how hard you fall, it is how you pick yourself back up." "If you fall off, you have to get right back up on the horse." I could go on. The most important part of any saying for me though isn't about the recovery process, it is the acknowledgement that you are going to stumble. Setbacks are a part of life. I fight the voices in my head that tell me I am not good enough everyday. I cry more often than I care to admit and I battle with my desperate urge to eat my feelings even when I am struggling to lose weight. No matter how much I try, I fall down often.

I recently posted a meme on Facebook I saw that captures how I feel exactly. It says "I am strong, but I am tired." There isn't much more to say. People see the face you show them but under the surface can be so much more. I am recovering from that emotional setback. I am organizing my projects and goals to give me the ability to cross things off the to do list, something proven in my past to help bring me back to my happy place. For me the road doesn't just have twists and turns but potholes, rockslides and flash floods. I get past them but everything takes its toll. I am moving forward, all I ask is patience while I get there.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Day 18 - Dealing With Depression

Anyone can have depression. That wake up and cry even when you can't say the reason, kills all motivation, hard to function kind of feeling. I woke up that way this morning. I get days like that every now and then which isn't strange but it can make going through the day more difficult, especially when you have to go to a book signing and be professional, talkative, and upbeat. I sat in my office for over half an hour debating the merits of not even showing up.

For those that have read my blog before, you know I suffer from PTSD. This causes my depressive days to be more frequent, more intense, and harder to recover from than a regular person who just had a bad day. However there is an odd silver lining to the PTSD. Because I am afflicted with this disorder I have been medicated and trained far more than a normal person on how to deal with my moods when they arise. There are definitely days I am unable to cope and those become the times I have to resign myself to lying in bed and allowing my mind and body to get back to neutral.

Today I was able to get myself up and dressed, though it took multiple attempts to find an outfit I felt author-ish in, and head to the signing. It was as I was setting up my tiny table that I realized one of the things bothering me. I looked around at everyone unloading all of their different books, setting up their displays and pulling out various marketing materials from their different boxes and containers but all I had was a single plastic container that could fit everything in it. I wish I had the level of marketing materials everyone else has, such as post cards and swag but I don't. I wish I had signs and banners proudly proclaiming who I am and the books I have written, but again, I don't. I only have two books available even after three years where I see other authors publishing more than one per year. It can grate on the nerves.

I have books drafted but I have yet to produce another book I am proud to show or publish. They are not ready. In some cases I know what I need to do in order to fix / finish them but for some reason my brain refuses to cooperate. Three of my books need editing and a rewrite to extend the story to a more appropriate length. One of those will require a dramatic rewrite that is going to change a large portion of the story itself. There are also three books that need to be completed and are in various stages of first draft. I am simultaneously lost from feeling overwhelmed and have so many paths I could work hard the rest of the year just to complete what is in front of me.

Once I get going and can fall back into the books I am doing the rewrites for I will be able to get lost in the pages and feel the story coming alive again but right now it seems oppressing. Instead of staring at the mocking blank screen of the beginning of my next new book I am staring at fifty-thousand words that need to be rewritten into eighty-five thousand words of much more cohesive story telling. I have a tremendous amount of work to do and I am hoping me brain and my heart will come together to allow me to keep doing what I love very soon.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Day 17 - My First Love

I watch a wide variety of television shows throughout the week. When I get home from work my boyfriend and I will make dinner then relax while watching a show or two from our DVR and spend some quality time together before heading off to bed. I have always enjoyed dramas such as CSI, Law & Order and Criminal Minds. I also love sitcoms like Big Bang Theory, King of Queens, Friends and Fraiser. Over the last few years I have been introduced to a couple reality style shows as well. Those are the ones I have come to really love because for me it isn't about the drama and chaos between the contestants on the shows but the passion they have for what they do.

My favorites are cooking shows like Hell's Kitchen and Masterchef. Last night I was relaxing while an episode of Masterchef Junior was on. I love watching the children because it is all about their food and their love for cooking. It is just so pure. As I watched the kids preparing dishes with techniques that I as an adult have never used, and in some cases never heard of, I studied their faces. They were focused, dedicated but most of all they were doing exactly what was in their hearts.

The episode had an elimination challenge themed on mothers. The young cooks were tasked to make a dish that was inspired by their moms and then present them to the judges. Like all reality shows the cooks were interviewed as they were going through making their meals. their eyes shone and their smiles could light up a room. The kids, ages 8-13, wake up and go through each and everyday heading toward every evening thinking of nothing but making food. In a way their pure love is inspirational.

It made me think about when I was in school and how much I loved to write short stories and poems to show to my own mother. There was a time when my passion was as simple and pure as theirs is when they cook. I had two things I loved that much, writing and dancing. I performed with a lightness and fire in my heart that I have only ever matched when I was writing. When the music would play I could feel it flowing through me and when I write I experience the same type of being fulfilled.

I have tried a number of hobbies and jobs in my life but it is incredible the way that the things we fell in love with as kids can hang on so strongly and reemerge later when we are ready to embrace them. When I danced I would use my body to tell a story with my body and movements to the music. Now I tell stories with my words and let etc rhythm and flow of my books carry both me and my readers away on adventures through my imagination. No matter what other paths I may follow or temporary distractions I let jump in front of me I will always find my way back to my writing, my first real love.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 16 - Editing

On top of working on my book for the agent I met at the conference back in January during this forty day challenge I am also doing my best to edit and revise my book Breathe. Both goals have their difficult aspects. The book I am drafting has more to focus on yet somehow those things seem like less of an obstacle to completion than the two parts I have left for Breathe.

My dealer book is in the process of being drafted and it is the first book I am cowriting. With that comes the inherent challenges of working with someone who has different work patterns and styles than you do. They may have different ideas of how to write the book and marketing plans. In my case my partner has not completed a book as of yet and struggles with staying focused when it comes to writing. He is passionate and has a wealth of knowledge but because we work differently it is difficult for us to spend time together and make the book work.

Along with finding a way to blend our styles as authors we are also working toward a deadline. No matter how much we accomplish it seems as though that finish line approaches faster and faster everyday. The deadline is mine and while he has agreed to write the book with me it is still ultimately my responsibility. This puts an added amount of pressure on me and I have to be able to balance that with productivity.

When it comes to Breathe I need to edit and rewrite. The book has already been written, even edited and revised a couple of times. In theory this should by far be the easier of my two projects to complete. In reality I struggle far more with editing and rewriting than with the initial draft of any book. I am terrible with grammar which can cause a tremendous amount of trouble when editing. There is also the fact that when you read your own work your brain knows what you meant to write so it can skip over typos, words that have been switched or other smaller editing issues.

Breathe has been a book I have loathed for years. I could never give up on it because it was a complete story and deep down I believed there was something worthwhile hidden among the pages. No matter what I did to toy with the plot though I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I had no idea why I hated it so much. Just recently I was driving when a realization struck me. Kelsey, the main character in Breathe, had completely abandoned her motivation and real personality at the drop of a hat.

She started as a character with a deep need to escape the monotony of her life and had even developed a plan, illegal though it may be, to accomplish her goals. However a few chapters later when a wrench is thrown in the plans she comes to a crisis of faith in herself and what she is doing. She never even struggles with her decision to change direction though. She forgets entirely about her escape plan and becomes a needy, romance seeking girly girl. The character is not real, people in real life would never behave that way. I need to give her back to herself and let her do what she always wanted to do. She may still end up being a good person that grows a consccience and tries to fix her past mistakes but she starts out with an edge and I would like to give her the chance to keep that motivation and personality. It is going to be difficult because editing has always been the most frustrating part of the writing process for me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Day 15 - Support Team

In every aspect of my life I find I walk a thin line between wanting to prove I can do things myself while also wanting to rely on some support from family and friends. The current challenge requires versions of that on every level in order to be successful. I know there is one part that I will not complete entirely but I am determined to make the rest happen and it is with the help of those around me that I will be able to attain that goal. I would like to thank those that are joining me on this journey and making my goals seem reachable.

My Mom - She has been the backbone of my support system since I was born. No matter what ridiculous task I took on or how much she knew my blind ambition would amount to nearly nothing in certain cases, she always stood behind me and kept me from falling down too hard.

My Boyfriend - After two failed marriages and a number of goals that fell flat because of my own fears I moved to Las Vegas and met my current boyfriend. It took a long time still for me to begin to believe in myself. It took even longer to trust that I was good enough and so were my goals. He challenged me, stood by me and asked me repeatedly about my plans. He celebrated with me when I succeeded and never antagonized me when I felt I was failing. He just let me work through me feelings and was there when I was ready to move forward again.

My Friends - From workout buddies to fellow writers, having someone there to push you on or bounce ideas off of can help maintain your goals. When I am at the gym and I see others in class doing additional reps it pushes me to not give up. When I log on and am letting social media distract me but I see other writers posting questions and daily word counts it makes me want to prove I can do it too.

I am the one that has to control my diet but it helps when the person I live with buys healthier food. I am the one that has to get to the gym though once I am there having the push of the other classmates can be vital to me making it to the end. I am the one that puts the words down on paper but it is seeing other achieving those goals that drives me to do the same. I am the one living my life, but I would never choose to live a day without those that make it full.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Day 14 - If It Bleeds, It Leads

When setting programming for the news or doing layouts for print and online media the saying "If it bleeds, it leads" is sort of a mantra. For those not familiar with this motto it basically just means that whatever is the most dramatic and / or violent that will capture the attention of the viewing audience, that is what you begin with. It is the news version of a hook.

That same idea is used when writing a book. The hook is what draws your readers into the story and hopefully captures their imagination enough to make them want to finish the book. Murder mysteries, thrillers and many dramas will begin with a dead body, a whodunit. By putting that violent scene right up front and asking the reader who could have committed the crime we help make them a part of the story and they get to solve everything right along with the main character.

For romance novels there can be an affair or some kind of an ultimatum stated immediately within the opening pages. Paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi stories usually place the reader into the world the story is set in. It will either start by drawing the reader into their new setting or will put them into a major Battle Royale giving snippets of the setting as the fight plays out. No matter what we do as writers our main job is to get the reader interested when they first open the book. If it bleeds... we shock our readers and make them have to know what happens next.

I am working on several books right now and I knew I wanted to draw the reader in, that is my job as an author. The problem is that I haven't written many books and so haven't had a great deal of practice putting in that shocking and captivating beginning. After reading more, not only as a reader that enjoys taking in new stories but also as a writer to see how those I admire craft their words, I am beginning to see more and more some of the effective ways to create that scene.

I am also working on writing books that have more of a dark side and violence within the pages such as murder mysteries and thrillers. These allow me to showcase that side of writing easier because they are genres I am familiar with and they are based in that more action-packed realm. There is a learning curve to anything and writing is definitely no exception. Having prose that hold the reader and an ending they have to reach are extremely important but you have to bring them in first. You must capture them and make them need to turn the page. Shock them, grab them and bring them to the edge of their seats as they enter the world you created.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Day 13 - Write What You Know

I have heard the advice my entire life that authors should write what they know. It is a great suggestion in a way but it is also open to a tremendous amount of interpretation. For many years I believed it literally meant to only write about things I knew first hand or had experienced personally. The problem with that can be the ability to inject imagination into a story that is otherwise simply a recounting of what you personally did. In order for a story to be relatable it is important to not make it too specific. People need to be able to picture things through the glasses of their own life experiences so in this case writing what you know means to use real life to inspire imaginative tales.

The second interpretation I eventually adopted was to write in a genre you know well. What do you read the most? Who are authors you know more about than a normal person probably should? Is there a genre of book, movie and television you can't get enough of? For me it is thriller / suspense. I love scary movies, drama television shows and books that keep me turning the pages as fast as possible to find out what is coming next while at the same time slightly afraid of whodunit. Many start out writing fan fiction, stories involving characters from those same shows, movies and books with their own spin on it. This is one way to break into the writing world with characters and worlds the writer already feels comfortable with before beginning to create their own.

The third is one I got more in touch with at a writer's conference recently. I was speaking with J.A. Jance the murder mystery bestseller. We were talking about her books and the fact that she sets them in places she has lived because it is a world she knows. She incorporates traits and quirks form people she has me because she knows how those people would act in the situations the characters find themselves throughout the story. She then asked me what my unique view is. I am a novice so I simply shrugged and told her unfortunately I didn't know. She asked what kinds of books I write and if any of them were series. I told her that I write in several genres but at this point only one series has truly come to life for me. It happens to be a thriller / suspense (go figure).

Over coffee we began discussing murder mysteries. They are her world but also something I love to read. As we chatted we got on the subject of where I live, Las Vegas. There are a number of shows and crime dramas about Las Vegas (CSI is one of the biggest) so that didn't lend itself to anything fresh until I mentioned that I am a casino dealer part time. The conversation then turned to murders in a casino and how it would look from the perspective of a dealer or casino employee, how it could revolve around a former casino employee turned detective but still maintains connections in the casinos. It could be a series with gambling related titles. Suddenly a series in my head was born.

Writing what we know is advice that works best when we incorporate all these aspects and turn it into something we have a personal ability to write but can be relatable and entertaining to a large audience as a whole. I have an incredible amount of reading to do in order to more fully verse myself in the murder mystery world but I am looking forward to writing one for my Nano novel later this year.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Day 12 - Becoming More Visible

You can write the greatest book on Earth. It can be powerful, moving and emotionally fulfilling to anyone that reads it. You could be an unsung hero of a movement or an expert that flies under the radar and just wants to share your view on a subject close to your heart. The problem is that no matter how qualified or talented you are, no matter how incredible your work is, if no one can find you or knows you exist than your book will never get into the hands of those that need or would want it.

There are a number of ways to grow your visibility in the writing world, I am working on implementing several in the next month or so. The number one way to be seen of course is to attend live events. I attend as many as by budget and work schedule will allow. However if you want to be seen there you must let people know you will be attending. This is where the first two parts I am implementing come into play, newsletters and a website.

I recently (about a week ago) finally launched the website I have been toying with for almost a year, It is simple at the moment with a basic contact page, calendar for any upcoming events, my social media contacts and links to the two books I currently have available. More books will be added when the time comes and events will be updated as I sign up to attend but at the moment it has all active information. On the contact page there is even a place to sign up for my newsletter.

I have never sent out a newsletter so I am in the learning process of that as well. I have recently subscribed to a few in order to get a feel for what other authors include as well as the style and layouts they use. I do not want to copy them so much as learn and then use my own personal style when making my own. It is similar to my previous post about learning the craft. You can wade through the water only so far before you ask someone to help you learn how to swim. Splashing around isn't good enough for me anymore, I want to have a strong technique.

Once you are at the events and have let people know you are coming it is important for them to be able to find you. Table banners and signs that designate your table become imperative when someone is looking for you. You want something professional and represents you and your brand. It helps you stand out from the crowd which can be difficult when you are attending a large event with a number of authors. We all have our ways of standing out but the better you do it the easier it will be for your fans and readers to find you as well as new ones to discover your work.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Day 11 - Studying The Craft

I have been writing short stories, poetry and recently novels for as long as I can remember. It was always something I loved and has become so much more than just a hobby to me in recent years. In school I wrote because I was assigned to but would still get some time in for my own ideas. I did not participate in challenges like Nanowrimo back then but when I was assigned to write a short story or create my own ending for a story for creative writing class I would usually write two or three things then turn in my favorite.

I never joined a writing group even though part of me thought about it. To this day I have only attended one writer's group meeting. I am planning to try getting more involved but my insecurities are something I am going to battle when taking on that challenge. I know that joining a group can give insight as well as additional perspectives on your work but it is also very difficult to take that constructive criticism sometimes, especially face to face.

It is important to reach out and network with the community though and going to writers' groups, critique groups and conferences are a great way to branch out in the industry. When I attended a conference a few months ago I took almost thirty pages of notes but never asked a single question. It wasn't that I was afraid of sounding silly by asking a dumb question, I had no idea what questions to even ask. I realized just how much of a novice I still am when it comes to writing. I needed to learn so much more before trying to attend something like that again.

I read the book On Writing by Stephen King and it opened my eyes in a tremendous way. There were so many things that, even though a lot of it was his opinion, spoke to me and told me I was doing ok. It also showed me volumes of items I needed to add to me so-called writer tool kit. I have been woefully unprepared and what is worse I did not know it. I blindly took on the world as though I had all the answers when the fact of the matter was I did;t even know the questions.

I have since added books by Bob Mayer and KM Weiland to my books on the craft in order to help me learn more about the hobby turned potential career. this is what I want to do with my life so it is imperative that I do it well. Fingers crossed I am able to get past my fear and attend some writing group meetings in the near future as well and gain the information in the books. If anyone reading this has any suggestions of books I can read to also improve my writing I would greatly appreciate it!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Day 10 - 25% Of The Way

Today is the quarter of the way mark for my challenge. I have successfully managed two full classes and one day of home exercise, failing grade. I have written a blog post everyday and gotten approximately four hours of extra writing in so still failing but slightly better. I have managed to avoid all of the things I gave up food wise completely and stayed within my daily allotment of calories for all but two days, pass but not perfect. I like having milestones so I can see how I am doing and make adjustments as time goes on.

When I do challenges like this the adjustments have nothing to do with modifying goals. I look back and say ok I need to make up eight full hours of exercise in the next round which means the majority of the time will be two hours of workouts, this is still possible if I alter the exercises that I do. Instead of a one class and leave I can add in swimming, weights or an additional class to get the extra time.

Writing works the same way. I need to figure out how much time I still need to make up, in this case six hours and then track time until I have reached that goal. Family time is important so on the weekends I try to limit doing much else so I can be with those important to me. My challenge is important but so is finding that balance. On the upside I have several projects to complete so I am not hurting for something to write.

One adjustment I am making is to have a written chart moving forward that shows me how much time I need to complete for each part of my challenge. I also cannot get ahead, meaning if I needed to make up three hours of writing but ended up in the office working for five hours, that is not two hours ahead. It would just be extra time I worked. Part of the reason for doing the challenge isn't just to get a certain amount of time and words in, that is Nanowrimo. The challenge is to help instill writing and working out as part of my daily routine so the habit stays with me after the challenge is done.

It doesn't work for everyone but for those that find having a deadline or a challenge helps push them, I highly recommend doing something like this. I know I am not on target at this point but I also know having those goals in the back of my mind keeps me going when I do fall behind. It helps me to overcome and push through the obstacles that caused me to fall back in the first place. Now I am off to create my chart so I can see how to make up for may current shortfall. Visuals can be a wonderful aide for goals. In the past they have been a major contributor to my success.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Day 9 - Writing In Random Places

Many times I have sat in my home office staring at my computer hoping to get some work done. Most times I end up squirming around in my chair trying to find a comfortable position but it never seems to happen. At most I will end up getting a short blog post done or I will just grab a book and read instead. I always have the best of intentions when I head into the office but I seem to end up rarely accomplishing half of what I set out to do.

Several years ago during one particular November I was doing my best to get my words in for Nanowrimo but I struggled to write at home. Whether from the lack of comfort I was finding in the office or the television that seemed to refuse to stay off the end result was the same, I was getting next to no writing done and falling further behind. That was when I started looking at the online groups and saw people talking about going to write at coffee shops or different places. I wasn't feeling up to the possible interactions that could come from a Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf but I wondered if getting out of the house would help me concentrate.

I drove around one day looking for somewhere I could go to write. I kept coming up empty but as I searched aimlessly I got an email sent to my phone telling me that a CD I had requested was in at the library near my house. I turned around to pick it up before going home. When I went inside I saw plastic tarps hung up because there was construction happening as they remodeled a conference room. I didn't even know they had the meeting spaces. I asked the lady at the customer service counter and she mentioned that most locations around town had them and some even had computer rooms for students to get homework assistance as well asquint rooms to study. 

The quiet rooms sounded exactly like what I was looking for. She directed me to the closest one so I could go see it. When I go there I saw several tables set up with people working. There were power strips built in to the table tops and most of the people had snacks and beverages that would keep them going as they studied or worked. In the back was an empty table. I knew it was meant for me. I started trying to write my Nano novel on November 9th that year so I was thousands of words behind from the beginning. With the help of the quiet room however I made up time and words. I even finished a day early that year.

In the years since I have branched out from the library. I have found a home at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf a few miles from home as well as gone to a group write-in during Nano though I am a very social person so I tend to end up talking if people let me. At the coffeehouse I plug my headphones in drown out the real world with a book-related playlist. I have trained myself to not wait for inspiration but instead to find ways to draw it out and be able to move forward in some way no matter where I am working.

Today I am sitting at the Ford dealership having service done on my car while I take over a small office area to get some writing and editing done. I planned to work at home but since that silly television has the power to pull my attention I will probably be more productive here anyway. It is not the comfortable, writing in my pajamas while I lounge around drinking delicious cups of coffee from my personal coffee bar situation so many of my friends seem to envision when I tell them I write but it is the reality of the job. We write anywhere and anytime we can. 

There are still some situations I struggle with like people that can take a tablet to work to write on break and then transfer from Google Docs to word or something like that during the day. I cannot get myself to do that. I can barely get myself to write longhand on a break since they are so short. I either eat or try to relax and give my brain a moment to recuperate before I head back to work. I went weeks without writing a word at all, even posts here because I had so many things going on and I was not willing to sacrifice anything in my already packed schedule to make room for additional writing but now I am choosing to leave openings so I can incorporate a part of my life that is truly important to me. It is all about the choices we make. When, how and where are just things to figure out to make it happen.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Day 8 - Burning Out

Every year there are several times I get burned out at my day job. The first one is usually when it first slows down following the holidays, the second is right after March Madness and the last happens toward the end of the summer after it has been so slow. It is in the down times when I am standing around staring at the other casino employees that I begin thinking about all of the other things I could be doing. I recently realized that I go through a similar pattern with my writing as well.

The most noticeable time I feel burnt out is immediately after the Nanowrimo challenge in November. After dedicating hours upon hours to complete the fifty thousand words, a goal I have successfully met on every attempt no matter what lengths it required going to, I will fall into a need for break mentality. This past year it lasted longer than I had anticipated. I never even finished the first draft of that story, the second in a four book series. I needed time to rest and step away because even as I neared the climax on the book I was already looking at things to change.

The break that was supposed to last for a week ended up being over a month. It wasn't until I attended the San Diego State University Writer's Conference that I found myself once again inspired to jump back into the fray of my writing. However when I got home, pumped full of motivation and inspiration I knew I had to put it on the back burner until the charity book signing event I was in charge of was over. That event took place on February twelfth yet I still managed to not write. I thought, planned and outlined but I did not write.

I came up with my forty day challenge that involved an hour of writing per day which I am currently struggling with. I find that even when I have time to sit and write I still end up planning other things, researching books that are so far down on the to do list they don't even have titles yet, or taking part in additional activities that have nothing to do with my writing. I felt that my writing was becoming stagnant which was causing the burnout sensation I experience at my day job as well. Recently though, I had a breakthrough for one of my books and I am excited to finish the revisions.

My goal now is to finish the rewrite and have it to betas but the end of this challenge which will be Easter Sunday. I am hoping that having that deadline and getting ready for shows later this year and next year. I want to have at least four books available for those shows and right now I only have two. I do have five that are at the revise and rewrite stage though so all I have to do is finish that secondary part. I also want to submit at least two for agents and publishers by the end of the year. Now all I have to do is fight off that new diagnosis of A.D.W.D. and keep myself focused and not get burnt out.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Day 7 - A.D.W.D.

Yesterday I was working with my event planning partner at Starbucks. We were discussing several topics including plans for next year's charity event. We stressed over the one we put on last month but are excited to have a much greater amount of time and now experience moving forward for the next one. We talked about ways to improve upon our previous event as well as successes we would like to duplicate. As the day went on our conversation moved form what we had worked on to what was coming next for us as writers in general.

The topics of the next book, the next signing and the next project are almost always on my mind. The problem is that they are always on my mind at the same time. I struggle to focus on one thing or another and as happened today I will find myself staring off into space not accomplishing anything when I have so much work to do. I joking titled my self-diagnosed disease A.D.W.D. also know as Attention Deficit Writer Disorder. Authors have a spectacular ability to deal with the issues of this newly recognized disease and I feel I am practically the poster child for it.

In a regular day we will find ourselves jumping between trying to get our word count in while also making time for editing, creating cover art, updating social media to stay engaged with our readers, promoting our already or about to be published work, researching or discussing topics for current works in progress and of course trying to make time for our non-writing obligations as well. Pile on the fact that many authors either work on multiple books simultaneously or are at the very least distracted by the voices of characters from additional stories to the one in front go us and you have a recipe for an overworked and overwhelmed writer.

As all of these thoughts coursed through my mind I found my head spinning from all of the things I wanted to finish while also fighting off the insecure squeak of self-doubt doing its best to make me run and hide. It is not that I do not want to finish the projects I have started it is just that A.D.W.D. has invaded my brain and is wreaking havoc on my productivity. I shall not give in to this disease though. I am determined to fight it and make my stand by raising awareness and finding the path to overcoming this author specific disability.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Day 6 - Taking The Leap Of Faith

I like to think of myself as adventurous and an adrenaline junkie. I love rollercoasters, skydiving and speeding around the racetrack at the local NASCAR experience. Cliff diving has always been something I wanted to try and last year I checked hot air balloon ride off my bucket list. Things like that have never scared me though I do have to contend with concerns such as motion sickness. I would never have classified myself as conservative in any way but I do have to fight insecurities.

The most recent example of this problem is my website. I designed it over six months ago. It took a long time to create the concept and decide on the color scheme but once I had made the decisions I still managed to toy around with nuances constantly. I was convinced I still had work to do in order to make it what I truly wanted it to be. The site I designed seemed far too simple and I kept wanting to add things but when I would add items it looked too busy. I just wasn't happy with it.

I have tinkered with it for months and now all I have left is officially purchasing my domain name and and publishing my site to the public. I think that almost all authors I know feel the same way about their books, newsletters and websites. Even when we hire people to create art or sites for us there is a sense of wanting to fix and edit constantly. The one part I have to keep in mind is that I have the ability to edit, add and modify things on the site even after it is published.

The newsletters and the books are more of a one shot deal but the website I have been working to perfect for so long is not a fixed commodity. I can alter it any time I need. Launching the website will also be the beginning of my newsletter push. I set up a contact page on my site where people can reach me as well as sign up for my monthly newsletter which means it is time for me to stop procrastinating.

I will always want to change things. I will never be completely satisfied with anything I produce. Even when I publish a book with it being professionally edited, beautifully designed cover art and formatted by an experienced publisher I will still find details I wish I could modify. Things are never absolutely perfect but it is a matter of taking the chance and learning from things as they arise. With breath held and fingers crossed it is time to officially enter the world of websites, newsletters and move forward in my writing career.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Day 5 - Making Up Time

In life there are many circumstances where our best laid plans fall apart. It could  be illness, family obligations or even unexpected problems arising at work that pulls you away from your well designed plans but no matter the cause the end result is the same. We create a path to follow then a tree falls over and blocks it. The obstruction is when many people give up. It may not be permanent but when you come across that huge trunk blocking your way it is easy to throw your hands in the air, curl up in bed and feel sorry for yourself. On the other hand you can begin to climb over it.

The climb is difficult, especially if you temporarily gave up. It takes energy, willpower and determination to rise above and continue on. Not only that but you have been set back form the original schedule. This can be daunting if it was a deadline you were aiming for. It means not only do you have to get past whatever was getting in your way but also make up the time in the process. My being sick for the past week and heading into the most severe allergy time of the year will be hinderances I must face during my challenge. My determination is strong. My willpower is fleeting but hanging on at the moment. Now I just need the motivation to add the time I have already lost and make it up during the coming week.

The writing time will be fine. I have missed a few of the days I wanted to be able to write but I have time in my schedule both tomorrow and on Thursday of this week that I can dedicate a solid four or five hours to the task. Not only should I be able to catch up on time and work toward getting my current project well on its way but I will also be able to revise some of the scenes I have been working on for other books. I am excited about those and cannot wait to spend some quality time improving stories I love so much. The more painful part will be making up my workouts.

Today is day five and while I have managed to do things like wear my ankle weights to work or get in some good stretching, I have yet to get in more than one day of solid exercise. Day one I went to yoga but that was the last dedicated workout I have managed to do. Tomorrow I have an hour long softball practice so that will count and if I am able I will go swim or take a dance class with a friend which will make up one day. I have four days to make up though so I will be well conditioned once I get myself into the swing of things again.

In the past I was one of those people that believed the tree in my way was a sign from the universe that I was not supposed to complete my goals. Now I know it is just a test to see how much I want it. For the sake of my health and my happiness I am determined to finish both sides of this challenge and I am looking forward to standing at the finish line healthier, happier and far more productive than I have been up to this point.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Day 4 - Finding Inspiration In Unexpected Places

Today for the second time I found myself in a situation where my anxiety level was overwhelming yet I was able to find relief in writing. The first I have discussed in the past, Survivor. I fought with the symptoms of my PTSD for years having periodic breakdowns and even driving away my husband at the time because I was not prepared to face what had happened. I began writing a book, Sharing Strength, about people that deal with those same symptoms and ended up telling my story of the damaging relationship I went through as a teenager.

Survivor was hands down the most painful thing I have ever written. I talked with a therapist and had to be medicated while writing it because opening up about my past felt nearly impossible. Once I started however, the words began to flow. They flooded out of me in an endless stream until I was completely drained physically, emotionally and professionally. I suffered a massive breakdown upon initial completion but as time has gone on I have found my voice and begun speaking on the subject of my experiences. Writing helped me get through that and today I have found solace in the creative world once again.

Today was more of a physical fear. I am terrified of motorcycles and being on one or even in the vicinity normally requires a good amount of medication. Because of the sinus infection I have been fighting and the meds that go along with that battle I was unable to take my anti-anxiety pills tis morning. I had, however, agreed to go on a trip from my home in Las Vegas to a meeting in Yermo, California approximately two hours away. I badly wanted to renege on that plan but I am a person that keeps their word so I had no choice but to suck it up and find a way to get through it.

As the ride started I sat on the back seat of the bike and held on with shaking hands, praying that I made it without having a breakdown. After ten minutes or so of deep breathing and focusing so hard I was getting a headache I decided to try thinking about a scene in one of my books. I thought about advice an agent had given me and slowly began to rewrite the part he had suggested I change. In my head I completely revised the scene. I was so caught up that we pulled in to the first stop without me realizing we were still on the road. I spent the rest the trip losing myself in thoughts of my books and my author events I plan and attend.

I am thrilled with the way the revised scene turned out and have already rewritten it so I could see how it would look. I have a number of ideas for the next event I am going to be a part of in 2018. Monday I will be meeting with my event planning partner and I cannot wait to share the ideas that helped get me through the ride today. I know most people would not consider the two situations to be the same but for me they were equally terrifying. They were also equally conquered but my greatest passion, writing.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Day 3 - Making Room In The Schedule

Today despite the fact I am still sick I am heading back to my day job. I slept well for the first night in almost a week which I am hoping means I am finally starting to get better. But because I have been under the weather I managed to nap my way out of writing or exercising yesterday. It was not something I intended to do just as I didn't mean to sleep thirteen hours last night but it was what my body needed. Now I am determined to make up the time of writing and working out.

Exercise will come tonight after I get done with work. Usually I come home and chill out on the couch until it is time to go to bed but tonight, body willing, I will do the lite home exercises and stretching I had intended to do yesterday so that at least I do not fall any further behind. Instead of reading when I go to bed I will take my computer and write instead. I have a number of projects that can keep me occupied so that is not a concern.

When I initially designed this challenge I decided I would wake up extremely early (for me) around 6:45am. That would give me half an hour to get dressed, make a quick breakfast and get into the office to start my hour of writing. After that I would leave around 8:30 for the gym arriving by 9ish for a class to get me going before work. On the days I was off I would run errands and clean the house before starting any moe writing I wished to accomplish. It turns out that I am absolutely not a morning person.

I can manage to wake up in time to go to the classes most of the time but there is no way I can get my brain to cooperate that early. Instead I will need to modify my original plans in order to fit the writing time in. I have struggled with it for years but I am determined to make up that hour I missed yesterday and keep getting the hour in everyday. With any luck once I am able to squeeze out an hour everyday I will be able to make more time and complete additional projects to help move forward.

It may be that eventually I will be going an hour of writing and an hour of editing or promoting but right now the focus is on writing exclusively. Keeping a schedule isn't the most important thing. What is important is not letting go of the goals and staying determined enough to push through when things don't go according to plan.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Day 2 - Willpower

For the past few days I have been fighting a sinus infection. I am not sure if it is anything more but that part is strong enough to put me down for the count. Between the headaches, sinus pressure and utter exhaustion I am shocked I have been able to do anything. However part of me doing the challenge I am currently trying is to stop making excuses and instead find a way to push through. Today is going to be a struggle.

I am doped up on medication right now so I am semi functional for things like sweeping the floor or washing the dishes but concentrating is taking a significant amount of energy. I am thinking that it will be home exercise today and the hour will be broken up into pieces such as three twenty-minute sessions. Writing might end up being that way as well. I know I want to write but sitting still and focusing is a battle to say the least.

One of the biggest concerns I have been having today however has nothing to do with exercise or writing and yet it has everything to do with them, nutrition. The ruth is that my struggle with food and my addiction to it as well has caused more problems for me than anything else I have had to deal with. Because I don't eat well I get sick and have to fight to get better. My body does not recover the way healthier eater's bodies do. I can't concentrate on working or working out and my sleep suffers as well. A good part of this ties back into the choices I make in my diet.

It is only day two in my no fast food, no pizza and no junk food challenge yet I am craving almost every single part of that. Having done similar challenges in the past I know it can take about a week to detox from the cravings. Some of them never go away. It isn't about not having the cravings though, it is about the willpower to fight them off when they arise. The same can be said for excuses.

Today I may not get as much writing done as I did yesterday. I might end up doing more over the course of a few hours since I am too tired to do much else. Not everyday will be the most productive, best workout or even easiest diet day ever. The point is to enjoy the days where things come easy and keep fighting on the days that they don't. I am not giving up, this is a challenge that I am hoping will become a lifestyle alteration. I am just still in the learning stages. Today will get done and I will learn from the struggle of today to help improve tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Day 1 - Starting Strong

Today is the first day of my 40 Day (46 days long) Challenge. So far I have successfully done my hour of exercise, which was far more of a challenge since I am also fighting a terrible cold / sinus infection. I have managed to keep to my diet. Of course when you aren't very hungry that part is slightly easier. Now I am sitting down for my daily blog post as well as my dedicated hour of writing. Like many people I know, I wanted to say screw it and start tomorrow since I am feeling so icky. I am the queen of procrastination. But there is a fire inside me right now that I think could burn bright and show me a new path if I just keep feeding the flames.

I have two books published that I take to my current shows. I had four but my two charity books are being revamped and so they are not available at the moment. The two I have I enjoy talking about but after the writer's conference I attended in January I can see several issues that need to be addressed and things I can do to improve my next group of books. There are so many things to consider. I want to make sure I have the right cover art, the editing must be spot on and now that I know what there proper word count average should be I know that everything I have written needs to be extended. 

The biggest question hanging over my head at the moment however is traditional or self-publishing. There are pros and cons to both and while I think in the end I will ultimately decide to stay Indie (self-published) for the majority of my books, I have always dreamt of being published through a traditional publisher. I would like the credibility as well as the ego boost just once of saying that one of the big five publishers was the one to produce my book. I love the phrase "I have an agent". These are things that no matter how much I do in the Indie world I have never been able to shake as something I want.

So for today, the first day of my challenge and hopefully beginning of a life-long habit, I am focusing on a book that was originally discussed with an agent at the conference. I am also looking at the other books I have drafted to make a game plan for revising and editing them so that no matter which path I choose moving forward I can have more books ready to publish.