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NaNoWriMo: It’s Here Again! Will You Be Joining In?

NaNoWriMo Participant-2014-Web-Banner

Yup, it’s that time again and I’m ready for it! I wasn’t sure if I could handle NaNo and still work on my novel (The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4) and get it finished for publication early next year, but I think a specific goal of reaching 50 000 words in 30 days will encourage me to set aside a few hours every day to do both NaNo AND Book 4 and complete them by the end of November. Hey, I’ve never done anything in small measures in my entire life and I’m not about to start now!

The South African Flag

The South African Flag – SA, my first home on this earth.

Moving from South Africa to the UK was utterly exhausting, as you can imagine. Picking up your entire life and dumping it in another country is not for the faint of heart and should not be attempted too often in one’s life. Exhaustion aside, I am thrilled to be here in a country that appreciates fantasy and science fiction authors more than they do in SA. Sad but true. I was told by an agent in SA that the fantasy genre is a difficult sell in our country, local author or not. As it is, there isn’t much room for the arts in any form there unless the community does all the work and finds private funding. Thankfully, there are the handful in each field, including a few corporations, that have the passion to make things happen in the face of ignorance and apathy; our leaders have no idea that without the arts a nation has no soul and will soon die. They are oblivious to the enormous potential of its highly skilled and talented people, of which there are thousands, therefore these struggling artists get no recognition or support from their useless, unaware leaders.

I have many South African author friends and they are doing fantastic things on their own and raising awareness in their field. They love what they do, and despite how hard it is to be an artist in SA they are thriving because they’re doing what they love. They make me proud to be a writer and an artist.

Make time to write every day even if it's just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

Make time to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

NaNoWriMo is growing in leaps and bounds, and I am proud to be part of it again this year. South Africa did brilliantly last year and I just know they’ll do even better this year. I will always support and encourage them. This year I am thrilled to be part of a huge writing community in the UK that is participating in NaNo. Hello, Kent! This year I am sticking to a scifi novel. As I work on finishing my epic fantasy tetralogy I am looking forward to having new projects to focus on next year, and since I will have two novels – one, a mixed genre of fantasy, scifi, horror, and western from 2012 – and this year’s scifi, along with another horror/scifi short story, I will have lots to keep me busy in 2015.

So tell me, dear Writer, are you participating this year? I would love to hear what you have up your sleeve and which tactics you will be implementing to succeed. Do share. If you need to chat and discuss issues and even your fears of not making the word count goal then let’s chat about it and encourage one another. I wish you luck and word count success by the 30th! I will keep you updated on my own progress right here. Now, go write!

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You Never Lose What You Gain – as a Writer or a Dancer

Polina Seminova

Polina Seminova

Yesterday I did a ballet exam for the first time since I was 17. It was an interesting experience, as you can imagine. At 44 one would think a person done with such intense exercises, but I wanted to get fit again and have a goal to work towards for the end of the year, besides finishing Book 4 during NaNoWriMo, of course 🙂 I was just informed that I got the highest mark and a fantastic report, which makes me smile and nod sagely to myself because although I am no longer as subtle or fit as I used to be there is one thing I retained after all this time and that was the technique required to pull off an exam of that level. It’s called muscle-memory, and depending on how good your training was as a kid you never lose that knowledge.

This goes for writing, as well.

It should please you to know that as you constantly learn you become better and better at your craft, never worse. This, of course, depends on whether you develop bad habits and faults and allow them to perpetuate your writing. The same principle applies to ballet. Bad habits are hard to break unless, with steely determination and a lot of hard work, you attack them with the very opposite and completely remove said bad habits and replace them with a good, solid foundation upon which anything is possible to achieve.

Having the right mindset is vital, naturally. You must want it badly enough, and by ‘it’ I mean perfection. I want to be a perfect writer, knowing this is impossible just like being the perfect dancer is impossible – but with regards to both careers I can get pretty close. It is up to me, however, to create an environment in which to work – at home and inside my head – that creates optimal achievement.

Writing Inspiration

I must gain knowledge in order to improve, to achieve, and, ultimately, to succeed and reach the heights I’m aiming for.

As a ballet teacher my goal is to train my dancers to think correctly. I have all the knowledge to turn them into better dancers, but they must want to receive that knowledge and apply it, then make it part of not only their dancing but themselves, for what they learn in the classroom they can use in all aspects of life. Knowledge empowers them to become better dancers and thinkers, and as their teacher I must make sure they understand that knowledge and then show them how to apply it.

As adults we may no longer have tutors to guide and nurture us, but we have learned the responsibility and discipline to make sure we continue our own education to the best of our ability. Even though I received the best training as a dancer there were still things I needed to be be reminded of and become more conscious of again nearly thirty years later. As a writer, I keep learning and reading and gleaning from the experts because I need and want what they have in order to apply it to my work and become better and better. I still need reminders of the details, the intrinsic stuff that makes the whole picture look so much more professional and appealing to my readers. It is my responsibility to keep learning and relearning so that I can keep growing and improving.

The learning never stops! Please remember that!

I’ve spoken before of being willing and open to learn and gain knowledge, and of finding the balance between knowledge and passion – it’s what this blog is really about. Never stop learning and you’ll never stop improving. It’s as simple as that.

I love hearing your thoughts. What are your opinions about continuing your education? Do you feel pretty confident where you are in your career as an author, or are you constantly aware of the need to keep honing your craft with more knowledge?

If you’d like to read other posts on this subject of passion verses knowledge please check out my Archive.

Remember, you can find all my books right here Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Goodreads.

Visions, Understandings, and Prophecies

Magic by Gioradi sxc

No, I’m not getting all religious on you, but I am going to chat about the absolute vital act of believing in yourself and your abilities, because unless someone makes you think about it and ponder it, you most probably won’t even give it a second thought.

When I started writing I was so new and so ignorant of many things that my first novel, The Sword Bearers: Book 1, began as an act of love and passion that slowly bloomed into a project of obsession that taught me how to be a good writer. I made a few mistakes (and I’ll probably end up rewriting and editing somewhere along the line), yet not for one second do I second-guess my abilities and my passion to be a storyteller.

In just about all my posts I have mentioned at least once that you, dear writer, have to have absolute faith in yourself if you want to make that dream come true. Now, hearing that cliché makes me want to roll my eyes. Yes, yes, yes, I want to make my dream come true, but until I do it creates a certain frustration inside me because it hasn’t happened yet. And that is where the problem lies. As soon as I begin to focus all my attention on what I don’t have yet instead of what I want and where I want to end up, I establish a habit of bad thinking and self-doubt that only escalates and, on bad days, gets totally out of hand!!

My first novel and my greatest joy!

My first novel and my greatest joy!

You see, if we perpetuate wrong thinking and allow self-doubt to permeate every waking thought then that is what we will end up getting. If I look at my first novel and focus on what I left out or didn’t do as well in Books 2 and 3, I can make myself go crazy!! Instead, I learn and change and study and read as much as I can and focus on the successes of the greats and in so doing slowly but surely begin changing into a better, more knowledgeable, more masterful writer every time I sit down at my computer and write the next line, chapter, book.

Daily I take time to imagine where I want to end up, what I want to achieve, and what I want to accomplish. I envision the future with as much clarity as my limitless imagination can conjure, and I bathe in the joy, excitement, and glory my visions bring. And as I connect to my bigger self, the one that is without ego and, in fact, my true self, then I begin to understand my place in the universe and I begin to see the big picture. It takes but a few minutes out of my day to imagine the biggest dream I can and allow my emotions to stir into a frenzy. Doing this every day brings me encouragement and a deeper understanding of my abilities, that they are in no way limited, except if I get in my own way and sabotage the destiny I have been given.

This is not fantasy, dear writer, but truth as I have personally seen this work in my life many times, and I believe absolutely that I will reach my end goal, and then go beyond it. As I’ve also said many times in other posts, I am constantly learning and improving my craft, and I make sure I do it passionately and without limiting my thinking in any way, no matter how tough or frustrating it gets.

The greatest gift you can give yourself is this: Always be teachable! Never think you’ve arrived. Believe that your talent is limitless and your potential eternal. Do not put your mind or spirit in a box and say you have nothing left to learn, but rather crave knowledge, crave insight, crave a deeper connection to your Source – whatever or whoever you believe that to be. But never stop being open and willing to receive even more than what you already have.

I started small, and today I can truly say that I have become someone bigger, stronger, and way cleverer than that very first day I put words on paper.

Even the Superstars Started at the Beginning!

Even the Superstars Started at the Beginning!

NEVER despise the day of small beginnings!!! You can only go higher, further, deeper, and wider from there.

I hope this post has inspired you. It was something I had to share because I know we all need to hear as often as possible that we’re awesome and beautiful and gifted, and that there is nothing we cannot do or achieve if we but believe in ourselves and the gifts we’ve been given in never-ending abundance.

And what exactly is prophecy? It is man seeing and understanding what’s on God’s mind through His eyes as it pertains to His creation. You’ve been made for greatness. You’ve been born to impact the world. You have been gifted with a unique voice, and it is up to you to use it. Either it can be small and insignificant, or it can be heard across the world and beyond. The choice – the amount you believe in the truth – is entirely up to you.

So, what are you going to choose: greatness or a mediocre existence? Create your own prophecy. Choose to make your life and career as glorious as it was meant to be the day you were conceived. Me? I’ve chosen greatness because I believe that it is my ultimate destiny.

I love hearing your thoughts. Do you have any self-doubts? Do you need to chat about them? I’m here if you do. I’ve been through every high and low you can imagine, and learned to recognise when I’m pulling myself down with wrong thinking. Sometimes it takes work to pull yourself out of a slump, but it is so worth it!!

Top image courtesy of gioradi

Writer = Therapist

Relax on the Sofa by ywel sxc

Because I am an avid reader since forever I am always left amazed at how a brilliant book can help me forget all kinds of troubles and woes and bad moods and struggles. That gripping novel has the ability to lighten my spirit and erase all bad mojo, and take me to a place where my concentration and creative skills are at optimum levels; the place my brain and emotions need to be for me to create those things in my life that make me happy and excited and willing and able to face anything.

Without inspiration we cannot deploy magic into our real and fictional worlds through words. Without inspiration our hearts and spirits are flat and tired and grouchy and it takes so much effort to create.

When I’m feeling down or despondent or upset about something or when things aren’t going my way, the best medicine is to put myself in an environment that instantly takes my mind off me and focuses it on something that makes my heart and soul sing with happiness – and that’s either a good book or a good movie. After reading or watching said book or movie, it actually takes quite a bit of effort for me to remember feeling bad. If other books can make me feel so good, then I just know that my books can do the same for my readers.

I have spoken many times about the power and influence of our stories over readers because we, as inspired artists, have the ability to create characters and worlds that feed the readers’ souls. Every single person who picks up a book wants to be transported away for a few hours, or even a few minutes. They want to escape their present circumstances –  whether it be sitting in a tiny office cubicle ignored by the world, riding a bus or subway, standing in a queue for hours, waiting for a train, being stuck in a hospital bed for days – and take flight to another, easier, less painful place where they are the heroes and nothing is impossible!!

My Escape

We writers are the unassuming therapists of the world; we have the power to temporarily or, in some cases, permanently lighten burdens and make people forget for a short while where they are and what they’re doing. And the consequences of getting lost in a story are always good and uplifting and thrilling! We have the power to inspire, because just as our Muse or God or the Universe has inspired us, it is our responsibility and ability to inspire our readers. The more powerful the story, and the greater the skill of the writer to transport the bored, depressed, sad person to another place that enables them to experience the exact opposite of their present reality, then the more successful that writer is at their craft.

Personally, the ultimate test of whether my story has hit the ‘escapism’ mark is if it moves me the way it will move my reader. If I can laugh and cry because a scene I created is powerful enough to do so, then there is no doubt in my mind that my readers will experience the same, if not a higher, level of emotion I did.

Space by Zakeros

Our goal, dear writer, is to take our readers by the hand and guide them through our worlds and help them experience the joys and excitement that inspired us to tell our stories in the first place. Like a therapist, we are here to help them understand and feel what they need to in order to get the most out of life – the life of the imaginary world – and be inspired to face with conviction and renewed hope, determination and purpose whatever life throws at them – in the real world.

Understand your responsibilities, and remember you are able, by your words, to move mountains in the lives of others!

First image ‘Relax on the Sofa’ courtesy of ywel

Last image ‘Space’ courtesy of Zakeros

Why Writing is Like Playing Squash

Pen on Paper

I once wrote a post on how writing is like dancing. This is similar, but because that was nearly a year ago I thought I’d replay the topic (pun intended 🙂 ). I think every now and then us writers need to be reminded how much work it takes to keep our craft honed, and if we slack off then our readers can tell. Things get untidy and mushy and squishy instead of remaining sharp, tight, and toned – like every serious writer (athlete) needs to look.

For the last month hubby and I have been playing squash again after an almost five-year break from it, not because we were lazy, it’s just that life got busy – being newlyweds and the like. This week we started again for the second time after having the usual week and a half off when everything shut down between Christmas and New Year, and although I quickly found my rhythm I could tell immediately (being a dancer for nearly forty years I kinda know what my body is telling me by now!) that it wasn’t a good idea to have a break after restarting on such a good note. But, hey, it happened and now I need to refocus and get fit again.

During NaNoWriMo last November I put aside editing The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3 to write a new novel in a different genre thereby having a complete break from almost three years of solely focusing on my epic fantasy tetralogy. When I started editing Book 3 again it took me a while to find my old rhythm, and for a day or so I got a nervous niggle in the pit of my stomach that I wouldn’t find it. I had to reacquaint myself with my characters and where they were – emotionally – in the story.

But I eventually did it! Whew! When I took a moment to really think about my fears I realised they were unfounded because once I’ve learned how to do something I never forget – like the old adage: You never forget how to ride a bike. But still, my connection to my characters and my emotional attachment to the story had frayed a little, and I made a decision to never break from what I am currently working on again until it is finished.

English: Vlástní foto

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Hubby and I started playing squash again (the first time) the only thing that I struggled with was my fitness level. I remembered how to play and what the rules were, but because of the five-year break I had to refocus my attentions on technique and flow and, of course, how to annihilate my husband! *evil laugh* It took about a week and then things just got smoother and faster for the both of us.

The comparison I’m trying to make with writing is that even though you might have a break from sitting at the computer and bashing out your novel, don’t completely separate yourself from the process of creating with words. Even if this means you keep reading, at least, to keep your mind and technique sharp and even perhaps learn something new from a prolific author.

Like the body, the mind needs to be kept busy in order to function optimally. It will never forget what comes naturally to it and it never forgets what it has learnt, but unless we keep it ‘exercised’ and healthy and feed it what it needs, it will get lazy and ‘fat’ and squishy and grow mental love-handles.

The New Year offers great opportunities to expand our knowledge and creative abilities even more than in 2012. I urge you, dear writer, to keep your mind at its best by feeding it good, wholesome stuff. I recently posted this quote on Facebook. It sums up what I’ve said here and in my previous post.

The Six Golden Rules of Writing

I so look forward to what y’all are creating this year! It’s gonna be a hot one!!

I love hearing from you. Please tell me what you are working on so that I can share and tweet and get excited!

Appreciating Those in my World and Giving Back – A Big “Thank You” from Me!

 

I love the human spirit! We have the capacity for so much love and generosity that I am frequently left amazed, astounded, and just plain bowled over by the incredible heart and passion and love people show to one another.

Here I am, sitting at my laptop at the southern end of the world, perhaps some might say pretty far removed from where it’s ‘all happening’, and I have met the most wonderful, kind people from across the globe who constantly surprise and uplift me . . . and they don’t even know me except through the keyboard! From Facebook to Twitter to Goodreads to Triberr, I have come across people I can easily call friends, even though we have never met or spoken face to face. These friends are more than willing to share my world with their many friends without asking for anything in return. Sure, there are expectations: there are hopes that when one shares another’s blog or tweet or Facebook page that one will receive in return. But I bet if you had to ask the question why they do it, and ask those sharers to be dead honest, they would all say because it makes them feel good to support others and help them get seen and noticed, especially when they are newbies. These sharers once were, too, and they remember what it felt like to first get started and be overwhelmed, and then how amazing it was when people started paying attention to them and their work and they started making sales.

If it wasn’t for such generous people, who give without asking in return, who don’t bat an eye when you ask them to help you out by sharing, liking, retweeting, reblogging, and supporting, then none of you would know who I was.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

I am pretty new to Social Media and the great, big, world-wide writing community (I’ve only been doing SM and Networking for about five months), but in that time my followers and friends and supporters have grown beyond my wildest expectations! I’ve connected with such amazing writers and businesses, not only businesses in the writing industry but across the board from artists to web designers, consultants, financiers, even air-conditioning tradesmen!! And I thoroughly enjoy everything they share with me because I love meeting new people, and I LOVE being constantly amazed by the incredible skills we human beings posses! We are all so diverse, so interesting, so downright talented I sometimes wish we could make the world go around on that energy alone and forget everything else! Can you imagine how amazing our world would be if we only lived surrounded by all that love and support and friendship every second of every day? Awesome stuff!

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

So this week my blog is a big “Thank you” to all of you who have contributed to my rise in Social Media-dom and who have helped me connect to the global writing community by putting my name and my work out there in whichever way you did. It is truly an honour knowing every single one of you, and I would like to let you know that my personal commitment is to continue sharing what you give to the world in any way I can, as well. It fills me with such joy and gratitude to support and encourage you and be part of the unique talents each one of you possess, in whatever field you’re in.

To date, my Facebook page is rapidly growing towards 200 Likes; my Twitter followers are now almost 1300, and although I still have a ways to go to reach massive sales of my Epic Fantasy series (something I have every confidence I will achieve one of these days 🙂 – Go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Goodreads to read more about my books), I couldn’t have done it without YOU!

As I am known to say at every opportunity: YOU GUYS ROCK!!

Share the love, and never stop supporting each other! It comes back to you one way or the other!


Heart Images courtesy of  Royalty Free Images at stock.xchng

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