A “C” word

It’s probably not what you’re thinking. Everyday, we face “challenges” which sometimes turn our world upside down. Take “characters” for example. How do I bring them to life so that the reader will remember them long after the last sentence is read? Will the dialogue bring out their quirky personalities? Working through scenes take a certain type of “courage” to build up heart-pumping action. “Challenges” keep coming, but we press on, doing our best to use what we know to make the future stories better.

We’re two months in, so how’s it going?

Most of us start out the New Year with goals. The first month usually gets off to a great start. However, by month two, the momentum may begin to dwindle.

I’ve been diligently editing three manuscripts in the hopes of reprinting one or releasing the other two this year. So far, I’m on track, but keeping the pace has been met with a few challenges: pop up tasks, other responsibilities, and tough scenes.

I’m also determined to post something on both my sites each month in addition to social media. That’s quite an undertaking when writing isn’t my full-time job. Excitement is building, though, as each hour of work brings me closer to a finished product.

So, even if your goals have taken a downward turn, don’t give up. Perseverance is the key to achieving what we set out to accomplish. We got this!

Interview with Brad Natali of Love’s Intensity

Interview question from J.J.: Brad, why are you so arrogant? I want to smack you sometimes.

Brad’s response: Wow! <Brad chuckles> You really know how to hurt a guy and knock him down a few notches. Very direct, but I like direct. Hate secrets. So…wow! <Brad sighs>

If I’m going to be honest with myself, the short answer is I’m a mess. I didn’t start out that way. I remember being polite, waiting my turn, caring about others more than myself. However, when my mom got sick and died of cancer, I grew bitter. I spiraled when my dad remarried a woman I could never accept as my mom. She was mean and out for her own interests. So, I guess I figured I should look out for my own interests too. <Brad sighs again>

I surrounded myself with friends who thought like I did. I ignored my dad most of the time. I only listened sometimes because I loved my mom so much and that’s what she’d have wanted me to do. I want to change, though. Be more humble, but I need help.

Boy, that got deep real fast. Good question. Thanks for asking.

Happy New Year! It’s 2020.

The New Year means new goals and the hope that many things will be accomplished. I remember thinking the same at the beginning of 2019. Although I accomplished a bunch of things, my efforts were not without many challenges. See 2019 in Review for more details.

What are some of my goals? Finishing the editing of and releasing three stories in print. There may even be a fourth, but that depends on how things go with the first three. I also plan on entering a few contests like I did in 2019. Wish me good fortune.

Thanks so much for following my posts and reading my books. Don’t forget to leave book reviews online.

Writing in the Midst of Chaos

Many people have told me they’d like to write a memoir or a story but just can’t seem to find the time. They’ve either given up on the idea or figure they’ll get to it when they retire.

I didn’t want to wait. With the unpredictable nature of life, I decided to make the most of the time I do have. I ignored the famous writers who said not to bother if I can’t write everyday. Over the years, I read and wrote as much as I could even after a eight to nine hour day-job and two little ones at home. In ten years, I’ve released as many stories/poetry books into the world and have received excellent ratings for my efforts. I’m so glad I ignored the “can’t do” attitude swirling around my brain. And guess what? I still make time to have fun with people.

So, if you want to write, write. If you want to publish, search the internet for options. Seize the opportunities that come your way. We all have twenty-four hours in every day. What will you do with your time?

Writing over 1000 in a day.

Some authors write thousands of words every day. It’s their main job and source of income, and I applaud them for sticking with it. However, for me, after a brain-draining nine-hour day job, writing one-thousand words in a coherent scene is nothing short of amazing. As a result, this fingers-on-fire kind of thing doesn’t happen often.

On August 6th, I posted on FaceBook that I wrote 1,472 words for a Work in Progress (WIP) I call #ZnT. I’ve been merging files into a first draft for this WIP, but every once in a while, my brain comes up with new scenes to fit into some spot I haven’t gotten to yet. So, I type it into a file with some notes on where it should go in the plot. I’m happy to report that these 1,472 words have found a place in the draft. I’m determined and working really hard to finish this story by the end of 2019. And onward I go!

Visiting Schools are Fun!

During my “I’m Back!” and “What’s been happening so far in 2019?” posts, I mentioned two occasions when I visited and spoke to middle school students.

Back in April, I attended the USVI Literary Festival and Book Fair in St. Croix and spoke to students about self-publishing and life as an author with respect to inspiration and creating an entire story from my imagination. They enjoyed listening to a scene from one of my short stories and asked many questions from how do I research to how much time do I spend writing each day. The students listened intently and didn’t want the time to end.

In June, I participated in a Career Day where I spoke about the various skills and events that are a part of being an author. During my twenty minute time limit, I fit in a reading from another short story. After interacting with four sets of students, my voice needed a well-deserved rest.

I look forward to more events like these as I’m always eager to help the next generation of writers get started.

The creating of “Battle at Kitee”

I’d been bombarded with an injury and had only one week until the deadline. I stared at the screen. No way. I wasn’t even going to try.

Just so happens, I mentioned my decision to a couple co-workers. They balked at my throwing-in-the-towel attitude and encouraged me to enter the competition.

“What do you have to lose?”

Sleep, maybe. But then I’d have a story in the making, even if it wasn’t so good at first. I let my concern over not having time to let an editor read it over trip me up. However, with their friendly badgering, I decided to go for it.

How do I start writing a futuristic battle when I’m not military nor do I have close relatives who are? I talked to another co-worker who had, that’s what.

I learned which websites to visit for ranking and which movies to keep in mind for fight scenes. I asked about when it’s appropriate to salute and who goes first. I paid attention to how former military co-workers talked to each other. The challenge became that I was talking to someone from the Air Force, but I needed to write a story for the Army. There are differences many civilians wouldn’t even notice.

I spent the next couple days searching the web and even discovered maps and historical data for the “fake” countries mentioned in the contest requirements. In the meantime, an idea for the battle scene popped into my head. The rest was just brute force writing and revising. I even gave the in-progress paragraphs to my coworkers for feedback on realism.

In the end, I used the last names of those who helped me along as I heed and hawed over writing this short story as a tribute to them. I think I really made them proud.

The best part? “Battle at Kitee” brought some happiness to a dying man. That never would have happened if I’d refused to write this story.

So glad I didn’t listen to myself this time around.

I acted like a 15 year old on my birthday.

And I’m calling it research. (Friends who know how old I am will laugh when they read this.)

I stayed in bed until 11:30am and was the last one in the shower. I didn’t comb my hair. Just ran my fingers through it. (Is it cheating that I have braids?)

Vitamins? No way. Breakfast? Oh, well. Guess not. Got up late.

Stuffed my face with Indian buffet for brunch as I pushed the bitter stuff to the side of the plate and swallowed down the spicy burn with Coke, my first drink of the day, with no thought about calories. Don’t worry. I sipped water too in an attempt to be healthy (and appease the mom in my head).

Oh, and I made it to the buffet line first.

I got a wind up toy and smiled each time it shimmied across the table with my birthday card held high. What teen doesn’t appreciate brainless playtime? Spending way too much time liking bday posts on FB and responding to texts was a blast.

I even watched like over 3 hours of TV. What 15 year old girl doesn’t enjoy watching older people’s attempt at romance? (I know. I’m exaggerating like a teen.) I even giggled at the sloppy kisses. (hehe)

Work email? Not a chance. What’s work? I walked the dog and stared at butterflies instead.

Cake and ice cream? Yum.

And after all that, I stayed up until almost midnight talking on the phone.

Today? I return to my real life, but it sure was fun being a teenager for a day.

Now, back to writing for them.

The Birth of Zale’s Tale

In June 2018, I entered my first ever short story writing competition. The Theme: Beach Fun. The Setting: Rehoboth Beach. The Problem: I’d never been to Rehoboth and had no idea what kind of beach plot would be of interest.

But I like stories about mermaids and learned that the they are a hit in Rehoboth Beach, too. Since stories about mermaids have saturated the market, I wrote about a merboy and his initial adventure on land. Learning about Rehoboth Beach via maps, pictures, and historical articles was a ton of fun.

About a month later, I received a phone call saying my story made it into the Beach Fun Anthology. Then, I joined other authors for the book signing at Browseabout Books in November.

This year, I wrote part two of Zale’s story. Although not picked for the Beach Dreams Anthology, I am one story closer to completing the planned short story trilogy. But who knows? Zale’s tale just might take me to other far away places.