28 July 2017

One Man's Inspiration

Where does inspiration come from? Well, the short answer is—everywhere. If you observe the world around you, you are bound to find inspiration for a character or a plot or a scene.

I happened to stumble onto this article the other day. It recounts the inspiration behind ten famous horror flicks. Read it, if you have the time. It’s interesting. What really caught my attention was the last entry, number 1 on the countdown—Alien.

Alien is one of my favorite films, for a number of reasons. I could write a blog about that, but today is not the day. What I was focused on was the inspiration behind the film’s most famous scene, the chestburster scene. I could never quite understand why it is referred to as that—the chestburster scene. The alien really comes from Kane’s stomach, not his chest!

The screenwriter for Alien was Dan O’Bannon. He died in 2009 at the age of 63 (way too young). His death had a real impact on me. First, because he wrote one of my favorite films. That in itself was a reason to mourn, but then I found out what his cause of death was—complications from Crohn’s Disease. I was diagnosed the year before his death, and I remember having mixed feelings over the whole thing. I shared something with the screenwriter who wrote one of my favorite films, yet that something was awful and took his life.

So, of course, the chestburster scene took on a whole new meaning. I just knew it could not be a coincidence. And sure enough, it’s been confirmed over and over. The scene, and the whole concept of how the alien kills it's host, was inspired by Dan O’Bannon’s own experience with Crohn’s Disease. Inspiration? You could say so.

So, is the chestburster scene a good portrayal of the pain of Crohn’s? You bet.

If you can’t stomach (pun intended) the real chestburster scene, watch the tamer YouTube LEGO version here. It's amazing. 

27 July 2017

A Title For Book Four

A strange thing happened yesterday. Out of nowhere, the title for my fourth book just materialized. That has never happened before. Well, maybe it did for Vocation, but the plot and title for my second book kind of went hand-in-hand. They became one entity. Not so with book four. It has a title, but no real plot, yet. When these things happen, I have learned to step aside. It feels like I am being led somewhere, and I imagine I am. Most likely the title will inspire the plot. 

What's the title? 

You'll have to wait and see.  

25 July 2017

Time, We Ought to Use It Wisely

It’s funny how time can pass, but then it seems like no time has passed at all.” That is a quote taken from my second novel, Vocation. The speaker is Bridget Landry, and she is commenting on a reunion with a friend from her past.

Bridget Landry has a lot in common with her author, and I imagine this is what it will be like, if and when, we make it to heaven. It will be as if time has passed in the blink of an eye. After all, there is no time in eternity.

I had breakfast with a friend this past Saturday. She and I have a lot in common, and we haven’t seen each other in a very long time. I’m guessing it’s been close to two years. The conversation was good, the food was good, and the company was good. But, more than anything was the good feeling that came from being with someone who wanted to share her time with me. 

Time is a rare commodity these days, and soon it will pass away.

I’m reaching the age now where I begin to wonder where has all the time gone. I imagine time flies more quickly when you have more time behind you than in front of you. But then again, none of us really knows how much time we have left.

Lesson learned: time is precious, we ought to use it wisely.  

18 July 2017

What's It All About--Branding (Part 2)

My plan for Part 2 of my discussion on branding was to explain my own branding and how it came about. Then I got to thinking . . . shouldn’t my brand speak for itself? I mean, isn’t that the point of branding in the first place? Isn’t it supposed to communicate on its own? So, I thought better of the whole idea. If I have to explain my branding, then it’s actually a failure. Some things are better left unsaid. 

So, I guess I will give an update on book 3. I don’t imagine it will be published until next year some time. I am still working on the story, but I am almost finished correcting the plot problems. After that, it will need a final edit by me before I send it off for the final edits and proofreading.

My next task is to get moving on the cover. I have the graphic, but with this novel I am going to a professional cover designer. I am planning to have her design the cover for Incorruptible and maybe redesign the covers for A Future Spring and Vocation to match—again, that pesky branding.  When all that is done, I can look to book 4.

That’s about all for now.

11 July 2017

What's It All About--Branding

Everyone who is anyone in social media tells you, you must have branding. All those in the know in the publishing world, tell you, in order to sell your books, you must have branding.

So, what exactly is branding?

I cannot for the life of me tell you.

I have spent the last year reading and researching how to brand your product (for me, that would be my writing), and I still have no clue how to brand myself or what my brand even is. I recognize branding when I see it on the websites of other authors, but I can’t figure it out for myself. 

For anyone who reads my blog, you have probably noticed that I have changed my theme and color scheme over and over and over. I was trying to find my brand. And on that task I have failed miserably. I don’t know what makes my voice unique or what draws my readers. So I have been stumbling around in the dark, trying to figure out what my brand is and how I can convey it to my readers.

The experts mention fonts and colors and using them across all forms of media. I’ve read about it all. They discuss combining your business persona with your private persona, and inevitably, if you do what they say, you will discover your own brand. I did the quizzes and read more. I collected pins on Pinterest, leading me to blogs that have distinctive branding, with colors and fonts and phrases and graphics, but I still couldn’t figure out what my brand was.

Then, I thought, maybe I just don’t have one. Yes, maybe I just don’t have a brand. Or even worse, maybe I just don’t know who I am.

So, I decided to let go of it all, let go and forget about branding. After all, I’ve broken most of the rules already, and I haven’t regretted it. So what, if I don’t have a brand. Does it really matter? Who would notice anyway?

Then, bam. It happened. I found it. Or maybe, it found me. And this time I think it may stick.

I heard a homily on Saturday that hit me. Then, on a whim I found myself visiting a local farm. Yet, it still wasn’t clear, but then I remembered something my mother-in-law used to say, and suddenly my brand was born.

I’ll explain it all in my next blog post.

Here are some updates: my crochet project—nothing, my writing—nothing, my branding—found.

25 June 2017

VHS Magnetic Tape, Recycling, and Crochet

I have been out of the crochet circles for some time now. I think since I began writing novels, I have crocheted maybe 3 things--maybe. Right now I have a baby afghan in the works, but I always have something more important to do than working on a baby afghan that I really have no plans for. I had the yarn. I had the pattern, so I just decided to make one. But, I am just not that motivated to finish it. And for me, to crochet something these days, I really need to be motivated. I find crocheting mundane now. I would rather be writing or researching or thinking and plotting my next novel.

Now, this weekend I was doing some cleaning, and I took a trip to the local Salvation Army with a box full of CDs, VHS tapes, and DVDs. The clerk laughed at me when he saw what I was handing him (that's another blog post). 

Later, I decided to do an internet search to see how I might recycle old VHS tapes--you know, the ones you used to tape things on. You can't donate them anywhere, and we have tons--I mean tons--because my husband taught high school and he used them a lot in the classroom. 

Well, as it turns out, recycling VHS tapes is not as easy as it sounds. The plastic case can be sent to recycling, but the magnetic tape itself cannot be recycled. 

That is a problem. 

Now, I am not a green freak, but I do care about what I'm throwing into a land fill. And imagining streams of VHS tape strangling a seagull (sorry) puts fear in me. 

Do you see where I'm going with this yet? 

No? 

Well, there is a company that will take VHS tapes--magnetic tape and all, so I will most likely ship a boat load off to them. But, during my internet search for a recycling center, I found the awesome idea of using VHS magnetic tape to crochet with. The material is referred to as plarn (plastic + yarn = plarn). I have actually used plastic grocery bags to crochet rugs and other things, so the idea of using VHS tape to crochet with is exciting. Suddenly, I've become motivated to make something out of the miles and miles of VHS tape I have sitting in my house.

I'll let you know when I decided what I'm making.

20 June 2017

A Message

I got this in my change today. It was a message I needed. I love when that happens. But, how does it happen? I have a theory, but I'll keep it to myself.



16 June 2017

A Robin's Egg

In the midst of all the chaos and destruction that permeates our world today, it is difficult to find peace or even hope. But it is important to remember that God is in control. He promised not to abandon us (John 14:18). 

I came across this little miracle the other day . . . a hatched robin's egg--a new life.


 And I am reminded of Matthew 6:26.

"Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?"

Try to find peace in the turmoil. I have this picture to remind me that He is all around us. We just have to take the time to look. 

31 May 2017

The Encounter at Confession

I went to confession this weekend. Usually, I try to go once a month, but I’ve been a little lax lately and haven’t gone in three months. I knew it was time to go. You can tell. You get that feeling that things aren’t as they should be, and you need to come clean.

Well, I knew it was time. Yet, I had a lot to do this holiday weekend. So, I ran some errands, and as the morning wore on, my enthusiasm to confess quickly waned. There is always a long line, and I had so many things to do—and it started—thoughts that I could go some other time.

But, then I found myself driving to the church. I parked the car and sat in the parking lot, preparing myself by doing my usual pre-confession examination of conscience.

And I entered the church.

Now, going to confession itself can try your patience. And this weekend was no different. The line was long—10 to 12 people had already placed themselves in line for the confessional, so I took my place at the end and prepared myself for the long wait.

Then the chatter began. Two people began a conversation about priests, confession, the state of the world, and anything else that popped into their minds. And they were loud, disturbing the other penitents.

When this kind of thing happens (and it happens a lot) you have to try to remember where you are and what you are doing there. Then you have to control your thoughts. After all, you don’t really want to add to the long list of things you are about to confess.

So, I kept my cool and my thoughts positive.

Then I saw her.

A young woman was making her way down the center aisle of the church. She had a cane, and we could all see she was blind. We watched as she struggled. I didn’t really know what to do—help or not help. I wasn’t sure if she was going to confession or if she had just received the sacrament, and it is hard to go up to a blind stranger and offer assistance. You never know how it might be received. 

So, we all watched her, but it was out of concern, really, and one or two people asked her if she wanted to go before them, but she declined. It is a strange question to ask really, since she could stand like anyone else. But I think it was a way to try to lighten her burden. 

Finally, she made it to the end of the line—right behind me.

So, now my behavior changed. Each time the line moved I would shuffle my feet louder than usual so she could hear me. I didn’t want to keep telling her to move forward, and I didn’t want to treat her any different than anyone else. Yet, I was afraid to touch her and afraid to talk to her too much because I didn’t want to be condescending or question her independence.

I know. I was overthinking.

Then my mind started working. I thought about her bravery and how difficult life must be and how much effort it took for her to get to confession.  What a frightening thing, to be alone, without sight, dependent on strangers, especially in such a dangerous world. And I wondered why she was alone. She must have someone.

By the time it was my turn to confess, I was more comfortable with the whole thing and there were more people in line behind her. I asked her if she wanted to go before me. I had my reasons, but she declined my invitation.

So I went into the confessional, confessed my sins, received absolution, and opened the door. I called out to her, but she didn’t hear me. The man in line behind her seemed oblivious, so I had to walk up to her, take her by the hand, and lead her into the confessional. I told her I would close the door behind her. She thanked me and told me to have a nice day. 

I closed the door. 

Afterward, I watched her to make sure she left the church safely, and then I watched her walk down the sidewalk. I felt good when she pulled out her cell phone and began talking to someone as I drove away. She wasn’t alone. There was someone, somewhere, checking on her.

It seems like a silly story for me to tell, and I’m not sure why I’m telling it, probably because I don’t want to forget the encounter or the woman. I wish I knew her name. 
But, I remember how she looked, and she looked a lot like St. Gemma Galgani.  

26 May 2017

You Will Weep and Mourn

I'm sharing today's Gospel reading because it is timely for the age we now live in. Today's Gospel is taken from John 16:20-23. 

Jesus said to his disciples: 

"Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you." 

25 May 2017

Our First Lady with Our Lady

Our culture has turned ugly, and it is harder and harder to find beauty.

It’s been a bad week. The U.K. was hit with another terrorist attack. This time the carnage was inflicted on children—young girls—at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

We all know this.

It is heartbreaking.

We all know that, too.

I don’t watch the news much anymore. I try to shelter myself from it. It gets to be too overwhelming, and at some point, you have to unplug. But, even though I try to shelter myself from it, I can’t really. You are bound to get dribs and drabs, and I don’t want to put my head in the sand, either. I do need to be informed. But, I tried to shelter myself from the brutality of the latest terror attack. Now, I’m beginning to hear the stories of the innocent people who were killed and maimed that day, and again, it is heart wrenching.

I limit myself on social media, too, but again I need to be informed. So yesterday, when I came across this photo. I had to stop and take notice. It was a photo that captured something beautiful.

Now, there seems to be two camps out there—left or right, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, and people can be vicious. There are the Trump haters, and some of the comments made about First Lady Melania Trump have been downright cruel, signs of how ugly our culture has become.

So when I saw this photo, it warmed my heart. Here is our First Lady placing flowers (and prayers) at Our Lady’s feet outside Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital. Yes, Melania Trump is a Catholic—a convert, they say.

That, to me, is a beautiful thing. 


18 May 2017

Diving In

One of the strange things about writing is the ups and downs of the craft. Last week I was ready to throw in the towel (well, not really) and this week my novella is edited and nearing the final draft. I took the advice of one my characters who said, “Maybe he was afraid to wade in so he decided to dive in instead.” And that’s what I did. I forgot the fear of never finishing, ignored the fear of writing substandard prose, and dove in.  It’s funny when that happens. So many times my characters give me advice, yet I created the character and wrote the quote. But somehow I know that isn’t entirely true. Someone else is whispering to me, and I’m just putting words on the paper. 

11 May 2017

Thoughts of Quitting

So, what’s going on in my writing life right now?

Well, I wish I could say that I’m almost finished with book three and plan to publish it this summer. But I can’t. I am nowhere near that stage of the process. Things seem to be moving along at a snail’s pace. And the old feelings come back every now and then—is it really worth it?

Book three is turning out to be a massive project, and I can’t rush it. I think it is my “breakout” novel, meaning, it is different than the other two, and therefore, it will take time to get it right. The plot is complex and a lot of research has gone into the story. I have been working on it for almost a year now, which isn’t really that long. It took two years to write Vocation, and that wasn’t nearly as complicated.

I have to be patient.

But, writing is hard, and I have had thoughts of quitting. Maybe two books are enough. After all, most people don’t write any books. Yet, there is an important story that needs to be told in Incorruptible, and that is what keeps driving me forward.

So, while I’m working on Incorruptible (and Corruptible), I will be doing some promotion for Vocation. I am really fond of that novel, and I don’t think it’s getting the attention it needs. I have a call out to a small Catholic company who may be interested in offering copies of Vocation to their customers. Right now, we are in the preliminary discussions, but I have high hopes that I can reach a wider audience with their help. Just as Incorruptible needs to be written, Vocation needs to be read.  

I am also going to have a new author photo taken this spring. I’m not sure my first photo captured who I am as an author (and person), so I thought it would be a good time to make the change. I’m in the process of setting up a photo shoot. I want some outdoor shots, so I have to wait for the perfect weather conditions.

So, I keep pushing forward, trying to ignore the negative thoughts that invade my mind, thoughts that tell me to quit. 

27 April 2017

On the Subject of Embalming

I am now on the fifth revision of Incorruptible. This time around I am correcting plot problems. I have two major plot problems. Both can be corrected by strategically adding information somewhere within the narrative. They both also require research.

This past week I have tackled the subject of embalming. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but I can say my protagonist is a mortician, and I am familiarizing myself with embalming equipment. I’m not sure how much will end up in the novel. There is a delicate balance that I am trying to maintain. A novel is fiction, after all, so a lot of what I write comes from my imagination. Yet, it needs to be realistic, too. I have to keep my readers in mind, so I need to maintain a level of realism without being overly graphic. It is not an easy thing to do.
    
One of the criticism I’ve had about my writing is that I am not very descriptive. There is truth in that. So I am trying to add more descriptive prose. Yet, I am someone who doesn’t really like a lot of description in the novels I read. I tend to be bored when people describe scenery or physical features of their characters. My mind wanders, and then I find myself pulled out of the story. I also don’t like an author to tell me everything. I like to use my own imagination. So again, I am trying to find a balance in that, be a little more descriptive when necessary, while at the same time, not bore my reader with a lot of unnecessary details. Again, it’s not an easy thing to do.

In the next few weeks, I am going to call a local funeral director and conduct an interview. A lot of the information I need about funeral homes and embalming in general, I have found on the internet. But I need a live human being to answer some of the more interesting questions. I’m actually excited about it. I can’t wait to get into the mind of a real mortician.

I’ll let you know what I find out.

21 April 2017

My Muse Is Back

After a long vacation, my muse is back. I dove into my manuscript and really got to work this week. I'm about two thirds finished, and I've cut over 4,000 words. I hope to cut more with the next revision.



I've now identified the main problems in the story, and I'm trying to fit the solutions into the draft.

Then, I'll need to go through the whole thing once again to see if it all works. After that, I'll examine my sentence structure, phrasing, and grammar. After I'm done with all that, I'll send it off to my editor and then to a proofreader. So right now, I have no time frame on when the novel will be published. That's the good thing about Indy writing--no deadlines.

I've also been doing research--a lot of research, learning from authors, editors, and book designers. I've come to discover just how little I know. And I think back on how I just jumped right into my first novel, as a true novice, and I wonder how I did what I did. I imagine if I had done my research before I wrote the book, I probably would've been too discouraged to even try.

But now with book three, it's important for me to learn as much as I can about writing and publishing. I've made a lot of mistakes in the past, but the important thing is I've learned from them.

I'm also planning a few other things that I'll tell you about when the time is right.

That's all for now.

11 April 2017

Why I Decided to Share My Port-a-Cath Story

I’ve been doing some soul searching, wondering why I feel the need to share with the world that I suffer from Crohn’s Disease and have had a port-a-cath placed to receive my maintenance drug, Remicade. Seriously, I wondered why I wanted to share such a personal thing. I’m actually a pretty private person, yet here I am telling such a personal story on the internet.

I thought long and hard about it. Why did I feel the need to share it?

Here's the story . . . 

Two doctors and two nurses told me to consider getting a port-a-cath. They all said it would make my life easier. Since Remicade is keeping me in remission, I have to stay on the drug. That means infusions every two month for however long it works. That is years of IVs. But I was still unsure. After all, health care professionals don’t always look at the patient. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Things become routine—patients become routine, too. I am just one of thousands of patients, and a port-a-cath is nothing to them. They see them every day, but they don't live with them.

We are now in an age where we have to be our own health advocates. And that’s what I decided to do.

So, I did all kinds of research on the internet. I even watched the actual surgery of a port placement on YouTube. I read about all the risks and all the benefits, but I was still unsure.

I watched more videos about accessing the port during treatments. I read blogs and went on chat sites. I wanted to know exactly what I was in for. Many of the stories I read were what could go wrong—infection, malfunction, etc, and I was still undecided.

Port-a-caths are usually associated with cancer treatments. Oftentimes, cancer patients have to receive chemotherapy every week or even every day. The port makes the treatments easier. And of course, I thought, I only get my treatment every two months. Do I really need to have a port? Yet, every time I went, I was filled with anxiety. Even if the nurse could find a good vein and start the IV, sometimes it would stop mid-treatment. There was always a fear that one day I wouldn’t receive the drug at all.

Finally, I went to speak to the surgeon. He told me everything I already knew, but it was his wife who finally convinced me. She had had a port, and she could give me a first-hand account of her experience. I think that’s what I was looking for, and I think that is why I wanted to share my own experience--maybe someone somewhere will read this and not be so afraid.

Port-a-caths aren’t just for cancer patients. So many people need treatments for so many things, and many have port-a-caths. At first, I saw getting one as a sign of illness, but for me, it is a sign of wellness—something that will help keep me well. I am not just dealing with the physical aspect of the disease, it is also the emotional aspect, and if I could make my treatments easier, less stressful, and less painful, I was willing to try it.
   
I had my first treatment with my new port on Saturday. There was absolutely no stress and no pain. I was told that the first few times it is accessed, it might be painful. I felt nothing at all. I should have done it years ago. If I had, maybe my veins could have been saved. But I am thankful I have it now. 

So I wanted to share my story for this reason: You must be your own advocate, search for your own answers, and do what is right for you. Seek out guidance from people who know, and stop listening to negativity from people who don't know. 

While I was debating on whether or not to get the port, I remember telling someone that I shouldn't get it just to make my life easier. I remember he answered something like, "why not?" I was surprised by his response, but it got me thinking--why not? After all, isn't Crohn's hard enough? Shouldn't my treatments be easy, if they can be?

Of course, the answer is yes. And that's exactly what a priest told me a few years ago, when we were talking about suffering . . . Crohn's is a big enough cross to bear, he said, so there's no reason to look for more suffering. 

Yes, everything is connected, and each person I mentioned played a role in my decision. 

And I will admit the doctors and nurses were right! 

I won't say the surgery was painless. It wasn't. I still have pain now and then where the catheter enters the subclavian vein. (I told you I did my research.) But I can deal with that, knowing it is temporary and I can receive my treatments without stress and anxiety.

So now, I will be another port-a-cath story on the internet for someone else to search out. 

04 April 2017

Today is My Anniversary

Yes, today is my anniversary. It is not an anniversary someone would want to necessarily celebrate, but today is the day I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, and that was nine years ago.

I never would have thought I could have made it this far, and I’ll be honest, on April 4, 2008, I really felt like my life was over. I was so sick I could barely pull myself out of bed, and when I did pull myself out of bed, I was in constant pain—a pain unlike any I had ever experienced before—or since.

A year later, and after trying several medications, my condition was still out of control, so my doctors sent me to Philadelphia to see an expert in the field of gastroenterology. This doctor saved my life. Okay, I may be exaggerating, but she definitely saved my sanity and my livelihood. I am in remission now, and I have her to thank for it.

On May 5, 2010, she started me on Remicade infusions. Remicade is considered a chemotherapy drug and it is administered through an IV infusion. I won’t go into the hows and whys of this medication, but it works for me right now, and it has given me my life back. For seven years now, I have received these treatments every two months.

Now, I am beginning a new chapter, and I thought I would share it with my readers. Three weeks ago I had a port-a-cath placed in my chest. After seven years of IV infusions, my veins are no longer easy to access. On the recommendation of three doctors, I went ahead and agreed to have the port placed. I will receive my first infusion through my new port on Saturday. I’m not sure what to expect, but I think my new port will bring with it a sense of freedom. I have to stay on Remicade to remain in remission, so I see the port as a necessity.

Since I now have a port-a-cath, I have to wear a medical ID bracelet. I received a silicone bracelet along with a card to keep in my wallet from the hospital right after my surgery. But the bracelet is gray and bland and boring. I needed something more fashionable. So I found myself an Etsy seller who makes bracelets for ID tags. Here are some of my bracelets.  I have to wear my bracelet every day, so I need a bit of variety—and a little bling doesn’t hurt either.





This last is a special request. I asked Michele to make me a bracelet with a Snow White theme--poison apple and all. Isn't it lovely? You can visit Michele's store here. She makes medical ID bracelets, but you can have any of her designs made into a regular bracelet. 




 And here is a fun fact about April 4. It is also Robert Downey, Jr's birthday and that just makes it a great day all around. 


01 April 2017

Surround Yourself With People Who Lift Your Spirit

Last week I was finally able to get together with an author friend of mine. He and I have become close over the past few years, and we are a very strange match. If providence hadn’t played a role in things, I doubt our paths would have ever crossed.    
 
I won’t go into the long story of how we met, but circumstances put us in the same place and time, and since we are both authors, we have bonded in a way that is very unique.     

So last Thursday, after a few cancellations, we finally met for dinner, and as usual, a large part of the conversation turned to writing—the ups (mostly his attitude) and the downs (mostly my attitude).
And a strange thing happened. I left feeling recharged. Once again, I am reassured about what direction I am taking with my writing. All the doubts have been erased. I owe a lot of my change in attitude to him. He is not just a friend, he is a cheerleader, and whenever we get together, I am reminded of why I am really writing.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s had his share of knocks in his writing life, but it doesn’t seem to get him down. He doesn’t forget why he writes, and that is something I need to be reminded of every now and then.

His positive, upbeat personality has stayed with me, and it has made me realize that we are all affected by the people around us. If we surround ourselves with negative people, negativity begins to seep into us. If we surround ourselves with positive people, we are lifted outside ourselves to something even higher.

My point?

Surround yourself with people who will lift your spirit, not break it. If it taps your energy, rethink it. We all need someone in our life who can talk us through the bad stuff and help us celebrate the good stuff. If you can be that for someone else, great, but sometimes we need someone to be that for us.

27 March 2017

Editing Incorruptible

This weekend I got back to editing Incorruptible. I should actually say I am rewriting Incorruptible. That is really what it will come down to—a whole rewriting. Sure, most of the draft is good, but a lot of it is not, so I have a huge job ahead of me.

Confession time: I have been procrastinating.

Why?

Because I knew there would be an overhaul of this third draft, and I honestly didn’t want to face it. It is quite daunting to think a large portion of the story doesn’t work. But this weekend, I decided to face that fact, and get back to it. The truth is I need to face it head on before I can fix it—and I will fix it.

My approach will be to take things one small step at a time. I know what the problems are, and I think I know how to fix them, but I’ve been looking at the draft as a whole, and that created an overwhelming anxiety. I even thought about tossing the whole thing and using Corruptible as my third book. After all, who has time to rewrite a whole novel? I have a full-time job, a house, a husband, cats, and health issues to deal with. 

Who has time to rewrite a whole novel?

Then I came to my senses.

What about Mac and Joel and Dante and Will? What about their story? Don’t their voices deserve to be heard?

So back to the drawing board I went to start all over again. 

My characters are pleading with me. Their story needs to be told. I just have to listen a little closer this time. 

15 February 2017

A Big Leap

As I said a few posts back, I’ve decided to make some changes in my writing life. The first step was to reach out to other authors and learn more about my craft. I’ve joined the Catholic Writer’s Guild, and their resources have been invaluable to me.

Now, I’m about to take the second step.

Moving forward with my third book, I am hiring a professional company to format my manuscript and a professional editor. This is not just a step, it is giant leap, pushing me beyond hobby to career—part-time career, maybe, but career, nevertheless.

I’ve already contacted a company who will do the formatting and cover for Incorruptible. They’ve accepted me as a client, and I am excited.

Today, I have contacted a professional editor/proofreader. At this writing, I am waiting to see if she will take me on as a client. Keep your fingers crossed! I have done my research, and she is my first choice to edit my work.

Stay tuned . . . 

08 February 2017

Into the Minds of Characters and People

 “She sees the world as she is, Anna, not how it really is." This is a quote from Charlie, a character in Corruptible, my novella.
Every now and then, a quote comes to me in my writing that is filled with truth. This quote is one of them, and it turns out to be one of my favorites. It is a short quote, but it says a lot about a character, and a reader might read through it quickly without paying much attention. But when I wrote it, it was well thought-out and deliberate.
And it is something I believe myself. In fact, Anna replies with, “Well, maybe we all do.”
I have an analytical mind, and I try to figure people out—what motivates them. It works well for writing fiction. It helps me get into the minds of my characters. If you don’t know your character’s motivation, you may end up writing flat, one dimensional characters instead of complex characters with many layers. People are complicated, so are well-written characters. That is what I strive for.
But, having an analytical mind in real life is not as helpful. I tend to over analyze things, wondering, why did she say that, or why did he do that. Then I move into, I would never treat someone that way. That is when I have to take a step back and realize that I, too, am looking at the world as I am. And it becomes a delicate balancing act.
Bitterness.
Anger.
Suspicion.
Self-absorption.
Deceit.
Kindness.
Cheerfulness.
Honesty.
Thoughtfulness.
Compassion.
Where do these traits come from? Some, I imagine, come from life experiences. But why do some people experience a tremendous amount of suffering and remain kind, cheerful, thoughtful, compassionate, and honest, while some people experience very little suffering and hold on to bitterness, anger, suspicion and self-absorption? Some traits must come from personality. I imagine it is different with each individual. But I have found that those that offer bitterness and anger to the world around them, most likely don’t like themselves very much. It is an internal struggle that seeps out into the world around them.
In the writing life, it helps me get into the minds of characters I have very little in common with. In the real world, it is a reminder to take a self-inventory every now and then, just to be sure I’m not harboring bad feelings, ready to be unleashed into the world on an unsuspecting soul. 

02 February 2017

A First Step

In my last blog entry, I stated that I wanted to surround myself with fellow authors. The first step I’ve taken to that end is to join The Catholic Writer’s Guild. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve been putting it off for a few reasons, but I finally did it. I applied for membership.

One of my future goals is to apply to the Guild for A Seal of Approval for Vocation. I would like to see if Vocation meets the standards set by the Guild as a book that supports Catholic beliefs and values. If it does pass the criteria, I would be able to offer copies of the book to Catholic book stores for sale.

I’ve come to a point in my writing career to realize that I need to branch out beyond my local market. There is an audience out there for Catholic fiction, I just need to tap into the market.

When you are an independent author, you are your own agent. You really have to believe in yourself in order to sell your work. Connecting with other authors, who support you, can be very beneficial, and for me it is time to make that commitment. I have reached out to other authors, one-on-one, but now it is time to reach out on a greater scale. It is time to take pride in my writing, and take the leap into a bigger pond. And I am proud of Vocation, and I want to get it out to more readers.

As I see it, I have two major handicaps to overcome—being and independent author and an author of Catholic fiction. I don’t have an agent to sell my books, and I am writing books in a genre that is limiting. But the simple fact is I write what I write, and I believe with more knowledge and more confidence, I will one day find my readers.

 It is small step, but that's how it all begins, isn't it.

10 January 2017

Revisiting My Genre

Sometime last year, I changed my author bio from Author of Contemporary Catholic Fiction to Author of Catholic Fiction. It is a subtle change but a significant one.

When I began writing book three, I discovered I was branching out. In a way, Vocation was a continuation of A Future Spring, not so much in plot but in style. And both books were safe, meaning, I was a bit timid in allowing the creative juices to flow. I actually held myself back.

Incorruptible has changed all that. I was less timid when I wrote it, and the plot has a different tone. I also delve into the supernatural, moving beyond what we experience in the natural world. What does that mean, exactly? Well, it doesn't mean New Age. It means I dive into the spiritual nature of things, the unseen world, but I still do that through my Catholic vision. That is one thing that has not changed.

After I wrote my third book, I started thinking about why I call myself an Author of Catholic Fiction. Why do I choose to write my stories around my faith?

Well, there are two reasons, really.

First, I see the world through the eyes of the Church, and there are things that have happened in my life that force me to write the way I write. I don't think I can really write any other way. If I try to write in a different way, my stories will become contrived.

Second, I find the genre lacking. There are "clean reads," meaning books without sex and violence. And there is "Christian fiction," usually written from a Protestant worldview. But there isn't a lot of Catholic fiction out there. In fact, there isn't even the genre on Amazon. Sure, there is Catholic fiction, but you have to hunt for it.

So why did I decide to drop the Contemporary from my genre? Well, like I said, Incorruptible changed the rules, and I plan to branch out even more with book four. I no longer want to be limited to contemporary themes and settings, and I will be moving to the past with book four.

Yes, there is a book four already making itself known to me.

I am just about finished with the novella that will be included with Incorruptible. There was more to tell of that story, and without giving out spoilers, I had to make this last part of the story an entity all its own. I thought about writing it as another novel, but you must read the novel, Incorruptible, before you read its companion novella, Corruptible, so I settled on a novella included after the main novel. I didn't want someone reading Corruptible first. It gives up too many of Incorruptible's secrets.

So, in order for my readers to know what they are getting themselves into, I will retain my own branding as an Author of Catholic Fiction. It may be limiting in some ways, but in other ways it opens up a whole new world.