Thursday, October 29, 2015

Remember to Breathe Deep (while you can)

It is easy to get wrapped up in the incredibly busy day-to-day life of a 1L. To keep things in perspective I've been playing a game. When I'm stuck in traffic on my way to school (or to the office) I try to think of all the things I'm thankful for.

Because, frankly, I'm tired of stressing over exams.

Here's my list of things I'm thankful for today (in no particular order):

Deep breaths
Warm showers
Vanilla Coke Zero
My mom and dad
My sister
My brothers
My hubby, Handsome Jack
Cool autumn mornings
Mrs. Goff and Alan
Good stories and the people who write them
All my writer friends – who believe you can do anything!
This life
This body
Rachel – the best hair stylist in all the land
This mind
School (yes, law school)
Heated blankets

All in all, I have to admit, things are going well.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

TBT: Personal Stuff - My Tenth Wedding Anniversary

Today's TBT will be a little different because today is special. Ten years ago today I married Handsome Jack. On some days it doesn't feel like ten years while on other days it does. LOL.

We celebrated our anniversary early this year because we knew I'd be neck deep in law school. So tonight we will keep things low key.

But what's low key without a little nostalgia? So I wanted to share some silly pictures of Handsome Jack and I over the last ten years.



Prepare to say 'awwww'

Our first "real" date night. Here we are, as kids, going to a high school dance.

I just love these pics. It melts my heart to see our love, alive and well, all those years ago.

These shots were snapped 3 years ago to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary.

I love how candid these pics are. We had a terrific photographer, Cindy Harter. Check out her site here: Cindy Harter Photography

Here's a more recent shot. Handsome Jack's hair is pretty long here put pulled back. Love his hair!

To my Handsome Jack:
Thank you for the last ten years. They were hard and fun and the best adventure I could ever imagine. Together we are writing our own HEA and I look forward to the next ten years, and the ten years after that, forever. Love always.

Monday, October 19, 2015

On Kicking Fear In The Crotch

As some of my readers may have gleaned over the years, Handsome Jack is a bit of a motorcycle enthusiast. He loves riding them, working on them, and modifying them. I think it stems from all his years playing with legos. Anyway, he builds things for his bike. Some of this is out of necessity and some of it is driven entirely by him. He wanted a cruise control for his bike so he can release the throttle on long rides. He did a search and there were some products available but none specifically for his non-Harley bike. So, what did he do?

He built one.

He took his bike apart, figured out how it worked, and built a cruise control for it (like the badass he is!).

I was blown away by it all and, of course, told him how proud I was that he built something so complex.

He turned to me and said this:

Most of creating anything is guts. I’d say it’s 60% guts, 30% skill and patience, and 10% luck.

My hubby, he's more than a handsome face.

His comment isn’t limited to engineering cruise controls. He may not have known it, but his comment applied to the whole wide world of creativity. And I don't know about you, but I could use a strong dose of fearlessness these days. So let’s dig into this wonderful comment, shall we?

Creating is 60% guts – How many times have you heard someone say, “I have a great idea for a story but can’t find the time,” or; “I don’t want to share my work with other people [insert reason],” or; “I’ve always wanted to write….”

The many reasons why someone can’t or won’t do the work (in this case, writing) are all fear based reasons. Fear is the opposite of guts. Fear can be a terrible thing. In its most primal capacity fear was there as a signal to keep us alive like this:

Fear: Hey, don’t go into that cave.
You: I don’t know, the cave looks very nice.
*growl emanates from inside cave*
You: Okay *runs away*

But in our current reality, where primal fear isn’t always necessary (whose still afraid of the dark sometimes? *raises hand*) the fear response stands in the way of accomplishing our dreams. Fear, in our reality looks something more like this:

Fear: Hey, why don’t you do anything else other than write that book because you know you’ll never be as successful as [insert a person].
You: I really want to try this writing thing. I think I could be good at it and I think I love it.
Fear: You ‘think’ you could be good? You ‘think’ you love it? What a joke. If you don’t know for sure you are wasting your time. Why waste your time? You know what’s fun….eating. Why don’t you eat some of those cookies?
You: *eats all the cookies*

It takes guts to look fear in the face and realize that fear is controlling your motivations. It takes even more guts to kick fear in the balls and move ahead with your dreams – whatever they may be. Check out this recent post from the lovely Delilah S Dawson on fear.

Creating takes guts above all else. Think about all the books out there that you’ve read and thought, “Hey, I can do this,” or even, “I could do this better.” The difference between you and that author who actually has a book out there is 60% guts. They had the guts to push forward and write. They had the guts to do what it takes to get the book published. And they had the guts to keep going even when someone told them no. Check out this awesome post by the acerbic Chuck Wendig on F'ing fear right in the ear.

It takes guts to survive in publishing but that’s not all it takes.

Creating is 30% skill – skill is important. You have to learn the rules and the tools of the trade.

Just like Handsome Jack had to learn what the carburetor-what’s-it thingie worked and the role it played in moving his bike. Creators gotta learn storytelling skills. And skill is relative and subjective, isn’t it.

Some people say some writers are more skilled than others. There are finite rules of grammar and storytelling but there is also finesse and personal taste. Just look at the recent hullabaloo with Chuck Wendig’s StarWars Aftermath. His book sold well and debuted on the list (congrats on making list, Sir). But at the exact same time his book is doing well sales wise the one star reviews were reproducing like rabbits after rabbit-prom. Sidebar – how cute would a rabbit prom be? Someone needs to get on that.

Who can say why his book is getting such crappy reviews. But ultimately his book is performing well. He got this gig (writing a StarWars book) in part because of his skill as a writer so skill matters. But skill is not the Triforce. It will not grant your wishes and make you an instantly beloved author. Skill alone ain’t jack. Skill plus guts, however, is a powerful combination.

I think it’s important to note that skill and guts are entirely within your control. You can become a less fearful, more skilled writer.

You can choose to ignore the fear and actually write the darn book. But there is a part of the equation that is outside of your control, and that’s luck.

Creating is 10% luck – yeah, it sucks. But there is a small, tinsy-weensy, piece of this pie that ain’t yours to control. Luck can be any number of things. It can manifest itself as ‘right genre – right time,’ or ‘right elements – right time,’ or even ‘right place- right time.’ The business of publishing is outside of our control and it’s a good business tactic to be aware of what’s driving the business you wish to be a part of. However, it’s not wise to alter your path and change genres to hop a trend. That’s a little like running after the cool kids in school and smacking right into a pane of glass.

Take a deep breath and repeat after me:

The business side of publishing is outside of my control.
To be successful in publishing requires guts, skill, and luck.
I can control two of those three elements and I choose to let the third, the element I cannot control, go.
I will not chase after trends.
I will not fret over other’s success.
I will strive to become a better writer.
I will strive to become the master of my fear.
I will strive to be a better me.

And who knows, after all of that (the guts, the skill, and the hard work) you may just find yourself the next lucky one.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

TBT: Attitude - You Gotta Have a Good One

This year has been tough. Amazing, but tough. It's only Oct and I'm already reflecting on the craziness - so, yeah. But one key element has remained constant throughout all the up's and down's of school, writing, and Day Job. In fact, it's the one and only thing I can control - my attitude.

For today's TBT I'm sharing a post from my Day Job series: Attitude - You Gotta Have a Good One. It was fun to re-read this post (man, I miss 30Rock - I loved Liz Lemon). I hope you like it too.



Life is a biotch, sometimes. None of this 'life can be a biotch' or 'is occasionally a biotch'. It is a biotch, sometimes. Sometimes there's no cake.

Or worse, sometimes you get stuck with a big, clunky cliche when we want fresh, original words. Pretty much everything in life is outside of our control, with one, little exception: you.

You can control you. In fact, it’s the only thing you can control. So that means the only thing standing between you and the life you want to lead is you.

It’s a hard pill to swallow. And this pill isn’t a one-and-done sort of thing. You gotta swallow this giant, horse-pill-of-truth Every. Single. Day. Sometimes twice a day. Sometimes more. Sucks.

Or does it?

I think Liz Lemon would agree that the only thing within our control is our attitude, actions, and reactions. Get a rejection? Get back to work. Get laid off? Make the most of it. Get promoted? Be thankful. Work with jerks and A-holes? Find a new job.

You may remember a recent post where I mentioned the need for elephant-thick skin in life, and especially in writing. I think this goes hand in hand with attitude.

I was recently reminded of this when I was laid off from the Day Job. It’s easy to fall into a self-deprecating shame spiral when bad things happen. Get laid off, shame spiral. Get a rejection, shame spiral. Gain a few pounds, shame spiral. Just a normal week in the life of this girl. I certainly felt pretty crappy for several days after getting paroled form Corporate America (see my post here in which I wear my sad-girl, Goose Sweatshirt).

It's okay to indulge for a little while. Heck, even Liz has her night cheese.

But feeling bad for yourself doesn’t change anything. Wearing my Goose shirt wasn’t going to get me another job. It certainly wasn’t going to help me finish my WIP. Or my edits. And it certainly wasn’t going to clean the house.

The challenge in writing, as in life at large, is to see the opportunity in each difficult situation. Or as this quote eloquently states:

“What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.”
― J. Sidlow Baxter

How can I make the best of this? Notice I said ‘How can I make the best of this’. Not, how can they make this better for me. Not, how can he/she make me feel better. Not, they owe me.

What can I do to improve? Because that’s all there is. I. Me. Alone in this quest toward publication. I have teammates supporting me along the way but I have to do the work. And believe me when I tell, this sumbitch takes a lot of work and I’m happy to do it.

I’m excited to hit new milestones. I’m excited to learn and grow – even though growth hurts. In difficulty, there is opportunity. And I’m wearing my big girl panties and matching bra. I’m ready for it. *pulls on shit kicking boots* Bring it on.

Need more on how our Day Jobs can make us better writers?

Check out this post about taking criticism.

Or this post on Stability and Creativity.

Or this post on Discipline - you gotta have it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

TBT: 9 Articles That Can Improve Your Craft

For today's TBT I'm sharing 9 Articles That Can Improve Your Craft. My mission in starting this blog was to create a resource library, of sorts, for myself *buffs nails on chest* because I'm a collector. But when it came time to make sense of the writing advice collection I had amassed, I was overwhelmed. Where to start? There is a ton of advice on the interweb. Trying to make sense of it all can be a bit...frightening.

Good thing fear doesn't stop writers, it fuels us. So, here are 9 articles on craft that I found truly valuable.



Three years ago I jumped head first into the swirling, whirling, madness that is advice on the web and set about pooling all the best, IMHO, writerly advice into a giant vault. Mostly so I could swim around in it, like this:

My entire vault can be accessed any time via the resource tab of my blog.

But for those writers who demand immediate gratification, (*looks at you* yeah, I know you want it) here are some highlights:

1. From PIXAR, 22 Tips on Story Telling

2. From Stephen King, 20 Tips for Becoming a Frightening Good Writer

3. Sage advice from Natalie Whipple a YA writer and card-carrying nerd.

What Natalie Whipple Would Say to New Writers

Pulling a Story Out of Nowhere

Natalie's thoughts on 'When the [writing] Honeymoon Ends'

4. From Raewyn Hewitt, Bridget Jones meets Tolkien, an ordinary girl, writing a story of epic proportions...

When Writing Gets Hard

5. From Chuck Wendig 25 Hard Truths About Writing

6. Oldie, but goodies: From the wiseNathan Bransford, industry insight and advice.

From Twitter: Advice in 140 characters

10 Commandments For the Happy Writer

What do Agents Do Anyway

How a Book Gets Made

Nathan's writing advice database

7. From Dahlia Adler, a founding member of the YAMisfits, Q&A compilations:

Q&A for Querying Writers

Q&A for Agented Writers

Q&A for Pre Pub writers

8. On Beat Sheeting: Beat sheet for romance by Jami Gold

9. How to Fix the Dreaded Info Dump by Amber A Bardan, Jami Gold

What sites do you like? What advice would you give someone starting down the writerly path?
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