Category Archives: Ramblings

Post Smoky Blues and Highs

So, back again! Been a while, hasn’t it?

Soooooo, I went to Smoky again. J If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out [this post] or [this one] from a review of a previous Smoky. If you don’t want to go to that lovely piece of my blog, I’ll paraphrase: 20-some writers of all shapes and kinds, cranking out words, eating delicious, homecooked food (courtesy of our two live-in chefs), and having a blast.

I miss everyone already, but that last day slammed me once I go home. See, in the prior two years of attending the Smoky Mountain Writers retreat, I would get home off of a high of cranking out thousands upon thousands of words, and think, “I’m going to continue working on this until it’s done and perfect and-

Grumpy-Cat-NO-1

My brain would shut down entirely. I would want to write, but have nothing pulling me to write. My mind was filled with ideas, but without motivation, I’d go nowhere. {See  [this post] on L.O.I. and my struggles with it.)

And nowhere was where I remained for months after each Smoky. First Smoky (2015) I cranked out about 28,000 words in the six days of the retreat. Second Smoky (2016 – Last Year): 36,000 words.  All new projects.

This year, my new project topped out at 31,000 by Saturday night. I was pleased with my work, even getting positive feedback from an awesome friend who has been supportive for the last month or so. (For those of you who don’t know what I mean by that, watch [this video] for the bombshell that broke me at the end of January.)

I won’t say much about this project, as I’m keeping it as hush-hush as I can. All I can promise is that it is amazing so far. In working on this project, I learned how to look back on the past and smile, without it dragging me down.

Most of this week post-Smoky, I’ve been singing and dancing everywhere, smile on my face (most of the time, anyway). I’ve gotten tons of weird looks at the grocery store and gas stations and while walking laps at work, but, for once in my life, I didn’t care.

I.

DIDN’T.

CARE.

A HUGE step in the right direction, I think. While the beginning of the year had been rough, I’m not going to let it squash my passion for writing and my confidence in this project.

Also, we do nightly readings at Smoky, where we can ask questions, but no criticisms, which creates a nice, positive atmosphere in which to share our crafted stories. Many of you will have heard of me talk about my mentors Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine (Authors of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series; highly recommend). They were the ones that got me to my first Smoky, and they go every year too. It’s always fun to see them and laugh and have a good time, and my depression thanks all the Smokies for emotionally supporting me. It really helped, guys. It really did.

Anyway, Tee was in my last three reading groups of the retreat. That first reading, it was me, him, and KT. I did my reading second, and was terrified. Once I’d finished my 15 minutes (different from the standard 10, because our group was smaller than the others), Tee asked a question or two, and then told me that, compared to the readings I did last year, my writing was LOADS better, and he could see how much I’ve improved, to which, KT agreed. Once readings were over, I was headed to my room to call Boyfriend, when Tee got my attention and said, “Seriously, Christine, that was good. Keep it up.” As he thumbsed-up me and walked away, my heart pounded. I couldn’t believe that my mentor, idol, and role model had complimented me that strongly.

Fast forward to the final night’s reading. I finished reading a single chapter, and had 3 minutes left to read. Before I could continue, Tee interrupts and asks a question. I glanced at where I would be reading and told him, “I don’t think I’ll be able to get there in three minutes.” He laughed and urged me to finish. Once my turn was done, he said to me, “Your story… it kinda feels along the lines of Labrynth.”

Cue heart pounding out of my chest. For those of you that don’t know Tee and Pip, let me mention a little factoid: they LOVE David Bowie. Like, beyond comprehension. Tee comparing my story to a David Bowie movie just topped anything else on the retreat. I was on Cloud Nine all the way home… Until I remembered what my brain does after Smoky…

Grumpy-Cat-NO-1

… And started to silently panic.

Soon, I realized there was a simple way to combat the L.O.I. and lack of motivation: Forcing words out. I am now challenging myself to write 300+ words a day, and I’m keeping a record in an Excel Document (Curse my love of Excel). I’ve been doing okay, considering; I’ve written over 3k in the last four days. I’m also posting a daily #PostSWRLog update on my Twitter account to hold myself accountable. I’m still going to attempt words this weekend, but travelling for a short vacation might hinder that ability. I still will post #PostSWRLogs, but probably not a huge word count. That will change after that fun’s over.

Oh, and that project that Tee complimented me on?

*gestures for you to come in closer*

*whispers* It’s a secret.

Keep Faith, everyone. Stay tuned. This year is going to be a wild ride. 😀

Looking to the Future: 2016 to 2017

So, Christmas is drawing nearer, as is the end of 2016. I’ve seen so many people who have labelled 2016 as the “Sucky” year. Celebrities dying, elections pulling people apart, so many people becoming violent or ending up a victim of violence. I hate the news lately, because all they do is fill me with terror.

scared-hiding

But, wait.

Why do I feel terrified?

  1. Is it election results?
  2. Death of a famous person or someone close to me?
  3. Christmas plans or moving process causing too much stress?
  4. None of the above.

If you picked (d), you are correct. Then, what is troubling me so?

Answer: What’s in store for my future?

That big question has been hanging over my head for a good number of weeks. If 2016 was as bad as it was, then what does 2017 hold for me? Well, here’s what I’ve decided to do. Below will be a few lists I’m making, both for my peace of mind, as well as for your information.

Stats for 2016 (before this posting on 12/19/2016)::

  • 1,181 views on this blog
  • 357 visitors to this blog
  • 19 Likes on Blog posts
  • 25 Followers on Twitter
  • 20 sold/freebie copies of The Protektor’s Reality in the hands of new readers
  • 13 free short stories downloaded (all off the iBookstore)
  • Only 2 new reviews on Amazon of The Protektor’s Reality
  • Only 1 patron on Patreon

Things that were horrible in 2016::

  • Mono (yes, the illness plagued me for most of the summer)
  • Having to see a cardiologist in my early 20’s
  • Losing a lot of weight, but gaining 2/3 of it back again…
  • Struggling physically from anxiety
  • Being so far away from my pucky doggies

Things that were good in 2016::

  • Smoky Mountain Writers retreat for another year, and cranked out 38,000 words in 6 days! (Love ya, guys! Can’t wait for February!)
  • My first Ravencon AS A WRITER GUEST/PANELIST!
  • I celebrated a year of being with my loving Boyfriend.
  • I started (and revamped) my Patreon page, in hopes of staying motivated.
  • Boyfriend and I took our first vacation together, went to Las Vegas and Arizona to see his Mom (Front row seats to KA, the Cirque de Soilel show!)
  • [Last week] Kicked off my new Youtube Channel, ChrissyTalks

Things I hope to accomplish in 2017::

  • Stay consistent with my blog
  • Upload to my Youtube Channel regularly
  • Try and gain more Patrons, reviews, and fans by ‘putting myself out there.’
  • Keep writing!
  • Ravencon as a Guest/Panelist AGAIN!
  • Exercise more and drink more water
  • Feel more confident in myself

So, here comes the biggest goal of all.

I WANT TO PUBLISH ANOTHER BOOK!

Unfortunately… I am so in debt that I cannot currently afford to publish one right now. I’m hoping, with ya’lls help, I can raise enough to publish this one, Children of Destiny, which would be the first book in my Trials of Terrara Vikos trilogy, the series that The Protektor’s Reality precedes. In this trilogy, about sixteen years have passed since The Protektor’s Reality, and Lucian has just made the difficult decision to bring his daughters back into the fray. Trouble is, neither of them know about the Realm, as Lucian sent them elsewhere to be protected. Now, with the girls getting slammed with their destinies so suddenly, the tension starts ratcheting up. The Seeker is close, and all the time spent trying to figure out the Seeker’s new identity is coming to a close. However, when the truth is revealed, how will they all decide to react?

I started writing my ToTV saga in 2011, starting with the trilogy (all of which are completed first drafts), with the short stories after, and the most recent being The Protektor’s Reality prequel, published in November 2014. (Two years, yikes!!)

So, I’m posting this here. This was originally supposed to be a surprise for patrons on my Patreon, but I’ll give you readers of my blog the scoop. When you pledge to my Patreon page (even just a dollar), the thank you note for becoming my Patron has a coupon code for Smashwords that will allow you to download The Protektor’s Reality for free in any digital form! How cool is that?!

Also, my first novella for The Chaos Accounts, titled “Accounts of Anxiety”, the saga which is what my Patreon is meant to influence, is well underway. I’m almost half-way through it, maybe just a tad under the halfway point. If you want more details on this writing adventure, or if you (maybe?) want to pledge to get that free ebook, I’m linking to my Patreon [here].

If you don’t have money to spare, DON’T PLEDGE! Like I said above, the debt struggle is real, and I am now twisted into it, so I understand lack of funds. If you can’t pledge, at least share links to my stories or this blog, so maybe the word-of-mouth technique might actually work. You know, hopefully. J

Also, if you are one of the few who has read The Protektor’s Reality from cover-to-cover, PLEASE (and I cannot stress this enough) LEAVE A REVIEW! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, or anywhere else. Reviews are the biggest gift I could be given this holiday.

Below this post is my first video on my new Youtube channel, ChrissyTalks. Oh, and since I know he’s been on this website already, shoutout to Chad at 2nd & Charles. I filmed, edited, and uploaded this below video last Thursday night when I returned home from that store. If you want to know the impact of that trip, watch the video below.

I wish everyone Merry Christmas. Stay safe on the roads, eat a lot of candy and sweets, and enjoy the joy the holidays bring.

Keep Faith, everybody.

Patreon, Take 2 (and other summaries)

BAD, BAD, BAD CHRISTINE!!!

Another 3 months have gone by, and not a single blog post.

I feel ashamed.

o-ashamedanimals-facebook

HOWEVER! I have a number of reasons. To sum up, moved in with Boyfriend and his family, in process of fixing up and selling our old family home (my Mom’s actually the one in charge; Boyfriend and I are essentially on-call laborers), trying to remain sane as medical and business complications arise, and still trying to find time to write.

SO! Here’s what I’m going to do. I have revamped my Patreon page, so that it is focused on another project, and if a monthly payment rather than a per creation. I’ve tailored the rewards better this time, as well as setting reeeeeally overreaching goals that I hope all of you reading this will help me reach.

If you want to read about what encouraged me into Patreon, click here.

Although the payments, goals, and rewards have changed, the reasoning and logic are the same: KEEP WRITING.

By having people read my work and pledge, it reminds me that I have a talent. When I look around at all my author friends when on my Smoky retreat, I feel kind of intimidated. All of them have full-time lives, and still find time to write, research, and even downtime for games and stuff.

Me? I haven’t had that luxury. Between no sleep and other problems, the life from that first Patreon post [here again], is what has been the norm. And, as an added bonus, I’m in my early 20s, and now have a cardiologist.

Needless to be repeating what a ton of people are saying, 2016 ROYALLY SUCKED!

Now, here I am, hoping and praying for a better 2017. Here’s my basic list of things I will be doing to make my life better, personally, professionally, and authorly::

-Exercise 30 minutes, at least 3x a week (probably on workdays)
-Drink more water (helped me drop the weight before)
-Exercise more on weekends
-Eat healthier (meaning more whole grains and less simple sugars [cardiologist’s recommendations])
-Write at least 30 minutes a day (or at least attempt to)
-Promote better
-Get things organized at home
-Continue to get content to all my loyal readers and Patrons
-**Start a Youtube Channel, when I talk about my writing process, character details, read unedited chunks, show my sadistic side (in my writing, not in real life. Not sure if I needed to clarify, but wanted to make sure), or just be random me, or random me and my friends.**
-AND, ANNOUNCEMENT! I have been invited BACK to RAVENCON [link] in 2017!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!

All that stuff and more is lined up for me in 2017, and I am starting to implement them into the last few weeks of 2016 too. Maybe then I can end my year happy. 🙂

patreon-take-2

LINK to my Patreon is HERE, or on my “Contact Me” tab above. PLEASE consider supporting me, because with enough motivation, maybe I can turn my life completely around. 🙂

I will put updates on the status of that Youtube Channel as well.

And, as always, Keep Faith, everybody! ❤

Mental Preparation

As I’m typing this, I am sitting in a desk chair, mind racing. I leave in less than three-an-a-half hours to leaving Richmond for the first big moment of my writing career. Being an author guest at Ravencon is such a HUGE honor, but, at the same time, kinda scary. I’ve got fears of public speaking and constantly worry about others opinions of me. It rarely shows on the surface, so when I tell people I have anxiety, they kind of laugh, “No you don’t! You can’t possibly! … Wait, really?”

What gave it away? The constant worry about everything? Or the fact that I don’t talk much in a strange environment?

Precisely why I’ve been nervous about Ravencon all week. However, as it’s gotten closer, I’ve been mulling it over. Sure, it’s a strange, new situation, but it’s the same con. The same atmosphere, the same types of people, all in one space for the same reason: A love for fantastically creative art of all kinds. Writers, artists, scientists, gamers: all under one roof. Seems kind of counter-intuitive to worry about a place that I’ve felt comfortable at for the past six events. Why should Year 7 be any different?

Answer: it shouldn’t.

Am I still nervous out of my mind? Yeah, of course I am. Most people in my situation would be. BUT, at least this first step forward is somewhere I feel comfortable, somewhere I feel like family.

So, come on up and talk to me. My wardrobe will be consisting of plaid flannel of various colors, jeans, and sneakers, rolling around a black and yellow box-that-is-not-a-toolbox and toting a tiny black backpack on my back. Don’t be afraid to come up and say Hi to me. Because, not only will I be able to (hopefully) make friends, maybe, just maybe, you can help me to fight my anxiety and remind me why I’m here.

A love of fantasy and writing.

Ravencon, I’m coming home.

 

(Oh, and the book will only cost $9 for con-goers. I’ve also got a guessing game for people who buy my book, which includes a plot-based ‘choice’ of snacks. No worries, you don’t have to have read the stories yet. I’ve got all the basic information you’ll need. 🙂 )

 

(Keep up with what I’m doing by Liking my Facebook author page, where I will be Facebook Live-ing REALLY frequently, and watch this blog for updates on my speaking panels, other panels I’m going to, meeting with and making friends, and other wacky-doings with my best friend Jessi. I will be posting on both VERY often.)

Affirmation #2.5 (Interlude): To Pace or Not To Pace?

Recently, I’ve been thinking.

“A dangerous pastime-”

“I know.” #DisneyReference

Unlike Gaston, we are NOT idiots, and know the values of thinking about things.

And BOY, have I been thinking!

Being positive has become a part of my life. I’m not Miss Super-Peppy, Captain Positivity, but sometimes I wonder if that’s a good thing… 😉

That being said, I know I’ve got a long way to go. Depression and negativity are a struggle to get over, especially when they’ve pulled the strings my entire life. To me, taking things one step at a time isn’t cutting it. Slow and steady isn’t a viable option. One foot in front of the other needs to be a sprint rather than a  casual stroll.

You are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “Now you’re gonna say taking your time to ensure perfection is a bad thing.”

Well, yes and no.

 

I see I’ve got a few mouths dropping open. Alrighty then, explanation time.

Yes, in some cases, taking the time to make sure every piece is in place is essential to success. In those instances, details pile up, and need to be double-checked to make sure not a hair is out of place. Even the slightest deviation or slip-up could result in catastrophe, Armageddon, or the apocalypse (whichever you prefer), and nobody wants that. For those plans, yes, take your time.

For other times, when details are fuzzy, duration to goal is indeterminable, and the want to succeed is only overshadowed by the obstacles in your way, DON’T SLOW DOWN. If you go full press toward your goals, you won’t have time to look back, or second guess. Distractions will lessen or vanish out of conscious thought completely.

Consider this idea from a story-telling POV. I’m going to give you two similar stories. Both involve same characters, setting, plot. The difference is in the story I am telling. Read on:

**

Narrative A:

Before leaving her room, Sariah grabbed her sheath and her cloak, throwing the latter over her shoulders and yanking up the hood. She dashed down the halls of the palace, making sure to peek around corners to avoid guards. Then, she reached the servant’s entrance near the kitchen. Once inside the large tunnel, she met the eyes of her best friend from the outside, Korbin.

“Sare, you ready?”

She nodded. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

The two checked outside to ensure the coast was clear before dashing out of the entrance toward the crowded streets of the city. Right before she got to the safety of the travelling citizens, a hand grabbed her wrist. A sharp gasp shot from her lips as she was jerked back. Her body slammed into the chest of another, and a cool blade was placed to her neck. She met Korbin’s wide eyes at her capture, but the boy did nothing but clench his fists at his side and grind his teeth in worry and fear. Huffing an annoyed breath, Sariah somehow had the guts to ask, “What do you want?”

*

Narrative B:

While she was excited to sneak out, Sariah worried it might not go off without a hitch. For protection, she took her dagger off the dresser. In order to hide from her guards, she tied her cloak around her neck and pulled the hood over the top of her head in the hopes they wouldn’t recognize her. Right as she dashed out of the room, she skidded to a halt. She realized that her door being open and unlocked without her in it might set off some bells. She quietly shut the door and locked it with her key. With a confident smile, she made her way quickly down the hall. At each corner, she slid to a halt, looking down each crossing hallway to ensure no guard’s awareness of her escape. Occasionally, she saw a single guard or two, but waited until they turned away before dashing across. She took note of the noise of her sandals against the palace tile, and tried to minimize it as much as possible. Her hood kept sliding down too, which annoyed her slightly. Finally, she made it to the servant’s side of the large, ornate, pristine palace. Ducking into the entrance tunnel, she saw her best friend Korbin standing there, waiting on her patiently. As she approached him, she readjusted her hood and checked to make sure her dagger was still on her belt.

“Sare, you ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

They hid in the shadows of the doorway for a few moments, making sure no one of importance was watching. Then, they bolted for the city streets. Sariah felt her adrenaline pumping with every step she took. Before she got to the safety of the bustling streets, a hand wrapped around her wrist. She jerked to a stop, and then was tugged backward into the chest of another. Her eyes met Korbin’s worried but angry ones as the cool feel of metal touched her throat. She huffed, clearly annoyed with this turn of events. Blowing hair out of her face with a quick breath, she snapped, “What do you want?”

**

Both decently-told stories, right? Same scene, same characters, same plot.

“What’s the difference, and what’s your point?”

The difference is in the pacing. Narrative A was written to be a quicker, suspenseful scene, telling just enough detail to entice the reader, but keeping the ball rolling. Narrative B took its time, giving more details than are necessary to the main actions of the scene.

I’m not saying one is better than the other. Not saying that in the slightest. The point I’m making is the difference in reading style here. If you want the action to go by at, what I like to call, a “Patterson-esque” pace, then Narrative A is your ticket. You want to reach that goal with no distractions, with the confidence that you’ll eventually reach a huge plot twist or exploding conclusion. If you want to know every miniscule point on your journey toward your goal and ensure the details of your story are accurately told and nitpicky to a fault, Narrative B is more your cup of tea.

Like I said, neither is better than the other. It just depends on the kind of story you are trying to tell.

So, here’s wishing good luck to me, as I switch from soda to water and attempt an exercise regimen, in the hopes of looking semi-presentable.

Who knew I could go to the bathroom so much?

Until my next real Affirmation, Keep Faith, everyone!

Affirmation #2: The Internal Conflict

(#2 in an 11 part series of posts about change, perseverance, and being a better you. Though personal to help myself, I’m posting these here in hopes I can help others who are struggling and wanting to make a change)

**     *********

YOU! YOU THERE!

YOU are AWESOME!

Here’s your button! 🙂

 

That awesomeness also spreads to your companions all over the world. “Wait, what do you mean? I don’t know anyone across the ocean/continent.” That could very well be true. However, I wasn’t talking of personal relationships that you have cultivated as you’ve been alive. I meant like-minded companions; the people out there go through the same type of life that you do, with the same problems and stressors you have. Stage fright? Anxiety? Eating disorder? Self-harm? Depression? Broken families?

The list could go on and on.

It’s so much fun to write about internal turmoil in fiction, but when it creeps into your personal reality, it becomes extremely hard to bear.

Most people have at least one thing that makes them want to hide in a dark corner and shrink away from people who might help. They look around and think, “How can everyone else be smiling? They must never have this problem.” Or, “No one understands!”

Both of those statements are completely INCORRECT. I will admit to have thought like this on numerous occasions, and I’m definitely not proud. The truth is, nothing you’re going through is the only instance in the history of the world. I’m not saying that to belittle it; trust me, I know some upsetting things can be really difficult and unbearable, and are by no means easy fixes or minor issues.

Feeling upset is universal, one which has touched every being on this planet (Yes, animals included; you should see my Sammy boy when I try to take him to the V-E-T). Understandably, we can easily agree that upsetting instances make us want to cry or curl into a fetal position. THIS IS NORMAL! We all have fight or flight instincts in us, and when we can’t comprehend which one to pick, we feel conflicted, and panic.

As of right now, I’m personally in this conflicted mode, from an email this week. I’ve talked various times before about how to handle this particular instance, but won’t bother you with the details. My struggle right now is taking my own advice when all I want to do is quit.

I’ve come up with a quick little regimen to combat this feeling of isolated fear:

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath.

Stretch your muscles.

GO DO SOMETHING!

That’s right, you heard right. Do something. Anything. Go for a walk. Ice-skate. Hang with friends, family, pets. Sing. Draw. Write. Take your mind off your problems for a little while. Any time you feel yourself getting upset again, repeat. Do this until you feel you are stable enough to tackle the problem head on. This could take hours, days, weeks, maybe even months, depending on the problem. Before delving in to confronting the problem, tell yourself this, in-between deep breaths:

I am not alone.

Others have fought and won.

This is normal.

I can do this. I can definitely do this.

I am a strong, intelligent, amazing individual… who’s about to kick some serious @$$!

Then, stretch your muscles again, take a few more deep breaths, and open your eyes.

 

And say:

“Bring it on.”

That’s all it takes.

 

Leaving you with this cover by the always-amazing Evynne Hollens. She and her husband Peter have impacted my life in more ways than anyone knows. Whenever I’m down, or doubting myself or my dreams, I listen to their music, and remember they are just like us. They have struggles of their own, and yet are able to get past it to live their dreams. Click on their names above to check them out on Youtube; they are amazing singers and awesome, caring, wonderful people.

Affirmation #1.5 (Interlude): Here for a Reason

(NOTE: If you do not want to scroll through a post about a religious viewpoint to a common doubt, then do not continue reading. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, and definitely don’t want you guys to judge me based on the contents. If you are interested to see my view, read on. If not, don’t color my books based on my beliefs. While they are connected by me, they are separate entities, with different motivations and meanings. Your choice.)

*************

 

“Every time that you wake up breathing, Every night when you close your eyes, Every day that your heart keeps beating, There’s purpose for your life.”

Above are the lyrics to a song called “Here For a Reason” by a Christian group called Ashes Remain. In case you haven’t picked up on little details in my blog posts in the past 3 years, I’ll answer truthfully: Yes, I am religious. No, I don’t judge others based on their faith, whether it’s different, weak, or nonexistent. To be honest, I’m not super religious anymore, but I still “Keep Faith“. At one point in my life, I fought a huge struggle with my faith. Between a family member being overseas, struggling with life in high school, and trying my hardest to not bang my head in with a frying pan when writer’s block attacked, I didn’t understand why.

Sound familiar to anyone? (The tough things happening, not necessarily the faith struggling part).

If so, then you’re one of the many. There are so many people that go through so many hard things in their lives that they can’t understand the reason for it. No matter what omnipotent entity you might believe in, we’re led to believe that He has a plan, and we don’t need to know it; it’ll happen when He wants it to happen. That just doesn’t seem right, does it? What happens when we work our butts off, and feel we’ve built up so much good karma and energy, and then things still spiral downhill? Doesn’t take a lot to lose faith (in a general sense, not necessarily religious sense), and want to give up.

You might feel like this:

 

Or, like this:

 

In any case…

That’s how I’m tying together Affirmation #1 post from Tuesday and my Affirmation #2 post that will be coming out early next week. In #1, I addressed having to work towards your happiness, because only you determine what makes you happy and what it’ll take to achieve that happiness. #2 will be about tough moments of despair that we all share, and how to know “You’re Not Alone”.

This one is about pushing through the common struggles to make yourself happy, and things will turn out the way they were meant to.

Now, what do I mean by that? It’s simple. Life, fate, God, other deities, positive or negative energy… whatever you believe affects our universe – they already know how your life turns out. Now, I don’t mean you don’t have free will. Of course you do! You control your thoughts, your actions, your words. How you treat others, how you solve problems, how you work, relax, have fun. You have complete control of what you do. They’ll give you obstacles to leap over or bust through, in an effort to make you a strong individual. There’ll be sad moments that will strengthen your soul and test your heart. There’ll be joyful moments where your heart is jumping up and down, but your body is exhausted from the adrenaline or excitement as a result of said happiness.

Each moment that happens in your life shapes who you are.

 

(Here’s where I get deeper into the religious side. Continue at your own risk)

 

For me, God does have a plan. When he put me on this earth, he gave me a purpose – a reason for existing. In my opinion, that’s pretty cool to think about. Even if it’s as minor as giving a dollar to a homeless person once a week, to starting a small business that might give work to struggling single parents, in-debt college graduates, or those unemployed for months at a time (For the record, my mother was unemployed for 16 ½ months at one point, and it was a rough time. Obviously, we got through that just fine.), to a struggling writer whose stories encourage a child to pick up a book and start reading.

We don’t need to know our purpose right off the bat. When the time comes, we’ll know. If we just continue to do what we’re doing, feel what we feel, and just BE OURSELVES, we’ll be led there, whether by parent, mentor, friend, or stranger. Not all angels have wings, you know. 😉

One of the things I absolutely love about modern religion is the abundance of music. When I met one of my best friends (who I am still friends with seven years later), she introduced me to a few artists. I went on to research more on my own soon after, and came across Ashes Remain. I fell in love with their music instantly, and so did my friend when I played some for her, so much so, she bought the album a few weeks later.

The quoted song at the beginning is one of my favorites of their’s, and, if you don’t feel awkward or annoyed by the idea of Christian rock/pop music, then they are definitely a group to check out. I’ve linked this song below. To finish, I’ll leave you with another lyric from this song, continuing the chorus from the top:

“So don’t give up, Don’t lay down, Just hold on, Don’t quit now, Every breath that you take has meaning, You are, Here For a Reason.”

 

 

The Waiting Game: Take Two

Last time you saw the words “Waiting Game” here on my little slice of the Internet, it was to talk about waiting for news on a project and what to do to not stress. This is in the same vein, but more a story than an advice column.

Last time I attempted to publish a novel, I succeeded. It became what is titled The Protektor’s Reality, and I am so happy I finally got a published book. Waiting was the hardest part though. Not only for betas/edits, but covers, layout, the delay in instantaneously being able to throw your greatest achievement out into the throngs of people with confetti and flying money. Does matter if that waiting takes only 1 day or five months. Waiting is HARD.

For The Protektor’s Reality (hereby abbreviated “TPR”), I had a few edits I waited for over the course of five months. First one I sent out go it all back to me within a month. Luckily, she enjoyed it so much, she said she is always willing to read more. In fact, you’ll hear a bit more about her later (in relation to the reason for this post). The other edits weren’t so quick, but I eventually got them back. Waiting for those edits, even the one-monther, were absolutely nervewracking. At the time, I was still in school, so I could study and hang with friends while I waited.

That no longer applies.

Granted, I do have a full-time job now, which takes up a majority of my day. However, during down times at the office, my mind shoots back to what I am waiting on, if they’ll like it, if I’ll like what comes out of it, what that will mean for the future of my book, etc, etc, until I drive myself crazy and have to force myself to do the work that suddenly gets slammed on my plate.

I’ll lay it out, plain and simple.
Waiting.
Sucks.

We all have to do it, though. In fact, we all wait on a regular basis. For food to cook at home, or be prepared at a fast food establishment or restaurant.  For our favorite TV show to come back on after commercials. For the car in front of you to stop driving 30 in a 60 (on dry roads) and get their butt moving. For us to fall asleep at night.

Granted, a lot of these might frustrate various people. However, we writers aren’t only stressed by waiting, we are terrified. Why do you think that is?

Worry we won’t ever hear back.

Anxiety over our writing not being good enough to succeed.

Maybe fear over rejection or dislike.

Whatever our reasoning, as writers, we are terrified of waiting. Our work (or pieces related to it) seem to be in a state of unreachable limbo, and we feel so much fear it will never come out.

When I finally released TPR into the wild, a huge weight lifted off my chest. I breathed a sigh or relief, sunk into a comfy chair, let life start to go back to normal-stress levels. Soon after, though, came the big realization.

This wasn’t over.

If I wanted a future career as an author, one which I’d already started down with the launch on TPR, I would need to keep creating and publishing books.

With a wating game.

Every. Single. Time.

My stress shot through the roof. It wasn’t over. And, for us as authors and writers, it will never be over. But, that’s okay. Because, we are still doing what we love: creating stories, and sharing them with the world.

Currently? I’m in a waiting game again, and will probably be for a majority of 2016. I’ve sent off my betas, one of which being the one who read the TPR before its release. All my betas are reliable and have a considerable amount of willingness to make time to read, because they trust this will be a good read. Then, after that, I’ll make my personal edits as quick as I can, and send off to an editor. Then wait again. Once that’s back, make my final edits, send off stuff to layout and cover designers. Wait. Get all that back. Upload to self-publishing company. Wait. Receive proof on mail. Read and make sure everything turned out correctly. Hit Submit. Write another book. Send to betas.

Repeat.

It’s a neverending, vicous cycle of waiting in the author world, but, once we accept it as a part of our writing/publishing journey, it becomes easier.

What to do in that time frame?

Read this.

And, do what you do best.

Write.

 

New Years – A Reflection on Life

New Year, new start, right? At the start of every year, all of us look forward to another year where nothing is impossible. Lose that twenty pounds, get that promotion, write that book you’ve been putting off for years, or go on that cross-country trip you’ve always dreamed of. There are a bunch of people I know (me included) that had a big change in their life in 2015. Babies entered some friends’ lives. Some people married their soulmates. Others started new jobs (example, me), big moves, new houses, new cars (example, me [again]), etc, etc.

No matter what did or didn’t happen in 2015, the biggest thing you can say is: I survived 2015. Lots of people can’t say that. Death got personal for me last year, with one of my grandfathers passing away from cancer (as I’ve heard my mentor say a bunch of times, “F–k Cancer”).  He was an amazing guy, and he went out the way he would have wanted, and that’s all that matters to me.

I guarantee lots of you lost loved ones this past year. My heart goes out to all of you, as I have felt that pang a few times in my life, and each time brought me to tears for months to years. It’s hard, looking to the new year without those wonderful people in our lives. Every passing moment stabs our hearts, and it literally hurts.

Here’s a little secret though. Come closer.

Closer…

*whispers* It gets better.

Yep, it does. Does that mean it will get to a point where you will feel nothing? No, unfortunately, the human race has not developed the technology to put your memory into an unfeeling, superhuman automaton with wifi in the head and a feeling suppressor where your heart should be. Sorry, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Or, ever, if we’re lucky.

Feeling sadness or depression can be seen as a bad thing, and, to be honest, it is. As someone who’s suffered depression in the past, it’s hard. You shrink away from people, trying to hide the sadness and anxiety in your heart. Wanting someone to listen but not willing to talk about it. Biting back tears when looking at your bank account, your sick sibling/parent, or even just a simple picture.

But, the fact of the matter is, YOU’RE FEELING. Being able to feel is an amazing gift. It allows you to express what you like/don’t like about a situation, and to let others know what you think about something. Feeling is just feeling; there’s no other way to describe it, really. But, it’s amazing when you think about it. It’s something we take for granted.

For instance, I’m worried about an upcoming project of mine (more news in the distant future). That alerts me to plan things out, and have a backup plan should things not turn out right. It also tells me to keep going, so I can prove to myself that I was worried about nothing.

I’m scared of change. This informs me that when change happens, I need to fight back against the fear and take every hit, because, usually, it’ll be worth it in the end.

I’m happy I have a loving family, and a caring, awesome group of close friends. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten this far in my work career, my writing career, or life in general. Feeling that happiness makes me feel warm and fuzzy and lets me know that not everything sucks.

And I’m upset about death. However, it’s a fact of life. We all will die in the end. If you need advice on how to handle death and your impending demise, consult the Adam Ruins Everything finale. Just a warning, the end is depressing (if you couldn’t guess that already by the topic).

But that doesn’t mean that everything about death is horrible. You have to look at it a different way. Sure, the physical body of the person you love is buried in the ground, but now you have a guardian angel looking out for you. Sure, they can’t affect anything on this plane of being anymore, but the things they did do in our existence left a mark on the lives of so many other people on this Earth. They can’t verbally speak to you anymore, but they live on inside you, in your memories, in your words, in your actions. We choose to focus on their death, because it’s seems easiest to do. But, that hurts you in the end. Don’t focus on their death; focus on their LIFE. The bonds they created that even death cannot break. The changes they made in their own life that affected others in a positive way. The lives they altered, simply by existing and interacting with the world. Their childhood, their schooling, their careers, their family, their friends. At some point in our lives, we made a mark on someone else’s existence, and that’s what we should focus on.

To tell the truth, I would not be on this blog, writing this post right now, if someone in my life hadn’t died. In fact, I wouldn’t be a writer at all. My uncle, while only an active part of my childhood for a year of my elementary school journey, passed away. I was eleven. He was forty.

He was supposed to die at eighteen.197952_1002567381076_3062_n

He was blind, but a genius. He worked as an engineer as an adult, even without being able to see. He had a loving family, who he chose to spend the last year of his life with. He didn’t let his illness or incapacities stop him from achieving his dreams. When he died, I took on that mantra. The night of his death, I wrote my first poem that wasn’t a school assignment. My mother read it – all three pages – and told me I should be a writer.

Almost twelve years later, I have published a novel – dedicated to him, as you’ll see if you picked it up on Amazon -, finished almost ten manuscripts, graduated college a semester early, got an amazing job three months after graduating, and have big plans for the next several years in the career that his death inspired me to take on. I learned to look at the life he had on this earth, not the fact he was gone. Because, I guess, he’s living on inside of me, pushing me to keep going when things get tough.

So, to 2016, I am going to keep pushing forward. No matter what you might throw at me, I will look at my book, my manuscripts, or that poem I wrote twelve years ago – which my mother has made hundreds of copies of throughout the years – and remember why I’m doing this.

Twenty-sixteen:

Bring.

It.

On.

Social Media From a Dummy

(This is in honor of the release of Social Media For Writers, a self-help book by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine, now available on Amazon (click title above for hyperlink)(cover to the left)

Social Media hurts my head. Most of the functions are easy, and, if you don’t understand them, a plethora of resources are at your fingertips. Easy enough, right?

For me?

No.

It’s not due to the difficulty level; I understand how most work just fine. It’s on a more personal level. I’m the type of person who cares too much about what people think of me. When contemplating a response, if there is even the slightest chance someone might not like it, I usually don’t do it. It’s because of this that I seem antisocial or shy most of the time. I spend too much time debating on the perfect response, only for everybody to have moved on to something else.

I need to change that.

Just because I may seem weird, off, or offensive during one second doesn’t mean the seconds after will remain the same. Now, that doesn’t mean blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. Experience has proven to a multitude of people that that strategy fails quite frequently. But, the truth it, I shouldn’t be afraid to be myself.

As of today, I am going to make an effort to put myself out there more. This includes social media. I’ve had a Twitter account for a while, but rarely tweeted. I’ve had this blog/website for two years, and rarely posted. My LinkedIn hasn’t been touched in almost a year, while my Tumblr hasn’t been used in so long that I can’t even remember what my username is. (Note: Tumblr is one of the few that confuse me.) And, while my personal Facebook thrives, my author page has sat on lockdown for months.

NO MORE!!!

I will make my author page on Facebook live sometime tonight. This blog post marks the second in 24 hours. Twitter will be picking up speed in the next week or two (you know, hopefully). LinkedIn and Tumblr will probably stay static for a few more months until I get the hang of this whole “Be-Yourself” strategy.

Below are the links and details to my various social media accounts. I am including this website, just in case someone can’t read the URL box above.

***FYI- BIG NEWS: COMING SOON***

Website/Blog: http://terraravikos.com

Twitter/Periscope: @discoverywritin

FB Author Page

Email: terraravikos@gmail.com

E-Newsletter Sign-Up Form

I am also looking for people that might want to host me on their own blogs sometime in the December/January time frame, after I’ve announced my “Big News”. If you might be interested, shoot me an email or contact me through my FB page or Twitter handle.

Until later, Keep Faith, everyone!