Valentine’s Day

My husband and I have had a longstanding tradition on Valentine’s Day. We do nothing. We don’t go out and have a fancy date. We don’t even have a fancy meal at home. Tonight, it’s leftovers and watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Like all other nights, we share dinner together, converse about the day, and watch part of a movie or an episode of a show we love. The most important part of this is that we’re together, sharing with one another the most important commodity of all: Time.

We have done things like this since we were married. I believe it started when we were engaged, two years before we were married. For the twelve years of our marriage, we have dedicated ourselves to doing nothing on Valentine’s Day. The reason is simple: We believe we should show each other we love one another every day, not just this one day a year. To us, Valentine’s Day is a consumer made holiday that we wish to take no part in.

We prefer to show we love each other in simple ways every day and when we do go out of our way to make something special or do something special, the other person has no idea about it because it wasn’t done based on a holiday.  It wasn’t expected. These are the moments I cherish. These are the moments I remember. These are the moments I know are coming but I have no idea when.

For those of you who do celebrate it for whatever reasons you have, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Inspiration and Its Wild Ride

I don’t know how I’ve done it, but in less than 2 months I’ve finished two novels and am already partway through the third novel, a little over 22k. When inspiration hit, I decided to push forward and see how much I could get done. Editing the first drafts of these books and polishing them can come after I’ve gotten the story out of my system. (I almost regret pausing to write this out. Almost.)

It is probably what I should have done with the Hartland series. I paused to edit and polish each book, when I really should have just finished the story while the ideas were flowing. By pausing, some of the ideas kind of fluttered away, leaving me stuck in places that shouldn’t have been so difficult to write. But because I lost the inspiration for the story, they were extremely difficult. Eventually, I found it again, but not after months and months of struggling to write a few words.

Because of the learning lesson I had with the Hartland series, it’s the way I have decided to start writing. Finish the story. Let inspiration take you on its wild ride.

Size Doesn’t Matter. Or Does it?

There are authors out there who can write amazing short stories. With only a few words they can paint a canvas and give their readers a peek into a new and exciting world.

I tend to become too attached to my characters or worlds to do short stories. Each time I’ve tried it has ended badly. Well, not badly, more like it ended with me scrapping the idea so I could use it later in a full length story and most likely use the characters in a different story.

The same thing can happen with a story which is novel length. You get a great idea, you pound out 60,000 or more words and end it. Then you realize that your characters or world have more to say. Soon, one novel turns into 3 or 4 or even 5. What started out as an idea for a short story has become an epic series where you’re not even sure if 5 full length novels are enough to hold everything you want to say.

Words have a strange way of multiplying.

The Trouble with Originality

The drive to be original is a noble goal. But it is not something a writer should let become a roadblock. I’ve noticed this about myself with a few of my stories. They’ll start out like normal. I come up with an idea I think is awesome at the time. I type out some of the important aspects of the characters, the world or the plot. Then I begin typing it out.

The roadblock comes when I take a step back and look at what I’ve written. I begin to wonder if people will hate it because it’s too much like this story, or because it’s a bit like that movie, or because the plot is similar to some TV show 30 years ago.

Self doubt is a huge thing for writers and is a constant struggle to overcome. Plagiarism is a serious issue, but let’s face it, nothing is original in this age. I’m willing to bet that every story written in the last 20 years is similar in at least 10 aspects to something written before it.

The key is the same as with anything that keeps you from writing: Power through it and just keep writing. Don’t let it bother you that you’ve found another’s work inspirational or influential. That’s what they’re supposed to do.

Cover Reveal: New Beginnings

Front Cover

 

As we’ve kept all the covers for this series simple, this follows the same “template”, if you will, as the others. There will probably be a few touch ups before it goes live, but we finally have a cover for it. Now, we just have to work on the dreaded back cover. At least, with practice of the other novels we’ve published, it has become easier to come up with a description. (Our first ones for Full Moon Rising were atrocious.) After that, the book will go through one more edit and then out to some beta readers. We are pleased with the progress we’re making, especially with how difficult this book was to finish. I’m hoping in a couple of days, we’ll be able to share the front and back cover with everyone.

Progress

Normally, we like to talk about progress in our writing. Every piece that we write, every book that we read, improves us mentally. What we normally don’t talk about is the other areas of our life. We’re anti-social and talking about any other area in our life is opening up to strangers, telling them things we would rather not have anyone know. It’s rather scary, but it’s a must if we want to move forward. It’s a must if we want to grow as individuals. It was scary at first when we started talking about our views on writing, too, but we have survived that. So, we’ll survive the other things, too.

We have lived in Pooler, GA, a suburb of Savannah, for a year and four months now. When we had first packed everything we could into a Kia Soul and either sold the rest or gave it away, we were super excited about starting a new adventure in our lives. When we arrived here from Casper, Wyoming that excitement was still with us for about a month. After that, we started to learn more about the city and the people who live here. I don’t want to say anything bad about the people here, but let’s suffice it to say, their way of life is not meant for us. There is very little we like here. We’ve been out to Tybee Island a few times and each time, we haven’t cared for it. The ocean is amazing yes, but it’s not what we want in life. After moving away from the mountains, we realized that we’re definitely mountain people. We thought we could be beach people. We’re not. Now, when we think about it, we chuckle.

Because of finding things out about the area we moved to and discovering how much we don’t like it in the south, I struggled emotionally. I still struggle and feel we made a huge mistake. Yep, some of our choices are going to be mistakes. Some of them will be successes. Unfortunately, we really don’t know which way it will go until we’ve made that choice. Should we fear decisions then? No. If we never do anything risky, nothing is ever gained. And if it turns out to be a mistake, it’s a life lesson. (Some are easier than others.) It also gives us the opportunity to know ourselves a little better. To know how we’ll deal with it. Making mistakes is natural. How we deal with them is a choice.

We had given up so much to be here, even a few of our beloved cats. We thought moving here would help me to avoid the long, cold winters of Wyoming. You see I have had a spinal fusion and I have arthritis in my back. We thought moving to a warmer climate was the right answer to get me out of pain. Not that I was in a whole lot back in Casper, especially when compared to now. After just that month of being here, the humidity started bothering me. I was in more pain than I was before and at first I was baffled at the reason. I was doing everything I should. Daily stretching. Walking. I soon discovered that the cold humidity made things worse. Because of that, I let myself stop walking and doing my daily stretches that are essential in keeping me limber. And, as you guessed it, the pain just kept getting worse and worse. I also started gaining weight, which didn’t help. Every once in a while, I would try to get back into the good habits I had before we moved. And then inevitably, I would start thinking, why bother? You’ll do these things and you’ll still be in pain. If I could go back in time, I would kick myself as hard as I could while yelling profanities at myself.

So far, for the last two and a half months I haven’t broken my routine. Whereas, I don’t feel too differently, I refuse to give into what I call “self-pity” again. Yes, I hate it here. Yes, it wasn’t what I expected. And yes, we will be moving eventually. (Hopefully soonish.) But that doesn’t give me leeway to do nothing. I will continue to walk and do my daily stretches. If I don’t, the alternative isn’t great. Through my family, I have seen what happens when you neglect yourself. I refuse to let myself do that. I am ashamed it took me this long to wrap my brain around it. Do I still struggle with wanting to do these things? YES! Will I continue to struggle with it? Probably. But every day that I don’t give into the negative side of me is progress and eventually I will win.

I have always struggled with being too negative in life, usually only in areas that concern myself. I see the good in other people way before I see the good in myself. I forgive other people long before forgiving myself. (There’s probably a lot of us like this out there.). This is something that irritates my husband. Want to know how I know that? He’s told me. I don’t remember how we got onto the subject, but we did. (Maybe a marital spat? Who knows?) He’s told me I’m too hard on myself. That I expect way too much and that the goals I set myself are usually unattainable and then I chastise myself for not reaching them. So, I’ve been working on setting achievable goals that are still hard to reach but not out of grasp. It’s been difficult to learn how to think differently. Sometimes, you just need to hear someone tell you the truth but that’s only if you’re willing to listen to it. If you’re not, then it will feel as if that person is attacking you and your way of life.

There will be times in your life that will be difficult. The key is not to give up. Giving up is too easy. Keep struggling. Eventually, you’ll see light ahead. We’re still in that dark tunnel, ourselves, but the more we do, the closer the light gets.

Although, I feel that moving to Savannah, GA was a mistake, I wouldn’t change it. Yes, we’ve struggled. Yes, I have personally struggled, tremendously, (several of the reasons aren’t listed here) and have been in more pain than I was when the goal was to lessen it. However, if we had stayed in the familiar, we would have never learned about the area. We would have never learned things about ourselves that would have never been revealed. It takes change to grow. Welcome change, even if it’s scary.

Writing Update

So last week, I skipped the writing update post I’ve been trying to make every week. There’s no real reason why I skipped it, other than that I didn’t want to do it, so I didn’t. How’s that for some honesty?

Anyway, on book 1 in the Ordinaries series, I am at 46k and am still going strong on the rewrite into first person. Writing in first person is still a little weird. This is the first novel where I’ve done it. I’ve read plenty of novels done in first person, but had never attempted to write one. I must say I’m having fun writing this novel for two reasons: 1.) It’s something I haven’t done before, so it’s a bit challenging, and 2.) I am loving the story and characters.

The final book in the Hartland Series: New Beginnings came back from the Alpha reader with a huge thumbs up. Here I was worried that it’d fall short from the other books in the series that came so easily for me. This one was a major pain in the ass to write! Yet, it seems at least one person likes it. They even liked the way I ended it. Now, I have to do another quick edit and send it out to the beta readers. Hopefully, I’ll hear some more good news from them.

Book 2 in the Magna Luctus series is coming along slowly. We only added an additional 1k to the word count. It’ll eventually get done. It seems this book is being as difficult to write as the final book in the Hartland series. I’m still pleased that we’re making progress on it though. Not all books come easily.

I hope everyone has a fantastic and productive week!