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About 180 Days of Preparation are Drawing to a Close

British Flag

Since I started this crazy mission to move to the United Kingdom with my in-laws and hubby life has been chaotic, to say the least!

It’s been a crazy ride – some good, some not so good – but through it all I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of achieving if I believe that the Universe has my back. I discovered the power of my mind and how easily I can achieve what I want, and also how easily I can sabotage my life. When making such a huge life-changing decision there’s no room to entertain negativity in any form.

Keeping the last book in my epic fantasy tetralogy going has been the hardest because to rewrite and edit one needs time – hours to just sit by myself and focus on it. Truth be told, time has been very scarce and I haven’t made as much progress as I’d like.

That being said, I know that there are other priorities in my life at the moment and that every cent (soon to be pence) I possess has to go into our move. That means I have to wait until we’ve settled down a bit before collecting the coins I’ll need to publish The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4. I don’t like it, I must tell you. Delaying the urge to publish and get out number four tugs at my heart every day, but for now I have to trust that it will get published when the time is right.

I have delayed everything from writing to blogging to promoting until my life has some normalcy again. I am both excited and fed up of this move, but like everything else in life that requires all your attention it simply must be done. Once I have the time back to refocus almost exclusively on my writing then the book will get finished and published. Patience is always something I have to work on, especially when instant gratification is my mantra (he-he, not really! I do have some self-control, you know).

Having balance is the wisest choice and always leads you in the right direction. One step at a time.

Having balance is the wisest choice and always leads you in the right direction. One step at a time.

I have learned to trust my intuition telling me to be at peace, that everything will get done at the right time, in the right way. Despite a few annoying obstacles, from our decision to move, to me getting my UK visa, to our belongings travelling by sea and arriving a whole month early, to getting the cats sorted to take with us (a scary expense!) it’s all gone pretty well. We’ll be flying from South Africa to the United Kingdom on Tuesday the 30th of September and arriving on the 1st of October with high hopes and great excitement for what the future holds for us. I reckon it will take about a month before I am fully settled to finally finish rewriting and editing Book 4 and then focus on the publishing process.

How has life been for you these days, dear Writer? Anything exciting to share? I encourage you to trust yourself and whatever Power you believe in to guide you to goodness and greatness at the right time like it has for me and my family. Through this tough process I have learned to let go of all the negative thoughts and emotions that want to drag me down. I am being taken care of and all I have to do is trust and set my intent for what I want. This I have done and now I watch with awe as it unfolds. I urge you to do the same, whether it be for work/writing or your personal life, let go… You’ll get a lot more done when there’s nothing in the way, including yourself.

When Life Interferes with My Passion

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!

So, those of you who follow my blog might have noticed that I haven’t written a post for a while. The reason? My job, and I don’t mean writing. I mean that thing I do that pays the bills. And every day I cannot get to my computer and focus on my first love, my passion, my creative outlet, and drug, to put it mildly, makes me grumpy and miserable.

I enjoy teaching ballet, but there comes a time when it all becomes too much, especially when I can’t find time to spend writing or editing for even just a couple of hours. My mood sours, my husband complains I’m not as cute and cuddly as I usually am when I manage to spend a few hours a day feeding my addiction, my hunger to create and unleash what churns inside!

I share my teaching week with another teacher, who is also an international examiner and tutor. As a result of her status, she frequently travels all over the globe  leaving me with more classes to teach and less time to write. The month of March was insanely busy for me as I taught six days a week as opposed to the usual three. Hey, I received an incredible salary at the end of the month so no complaints there, but I can’t help but feel robbed of time with my beloved characters; you know, spending quality time with them in their world.

I know I don’t really have to ask you this, dear Writer, but do you not also feel a sense of separation when you cannot be with your characters, especially those you’ve written four or more books about? For me, it hasn’t only been the last five years of penning their story. No, try thirty-seven years!!! Yup, my epic fantasy tetralogy was born when I was a wee kid, and the story has evolved over all that time, growing, morphing, evolving, until it eventually found its voice in 2009 when I decided to share it with the world. These characters have lived with me practically my entire life, so when I can’t spend time with them every day it feels like I’m ignoring them and my relationship with them suffers. I lose the connection with them and their story, never a good thing when writing an emotionally charged tale!

My writing and blogging have taken a back seat this past month but I hope now to finally kick it up into gear again and finish editing The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4, the final installment and the end of a thirty-seven year journey. My characters are waiting for me to finish telling their story so that the world can read it, so that they can become part of the hearts and minds of those who choose to read it. I also hope to blog more regularly, and I want to thank all my followers for your support and interest in what I have to say. It means a lot to me that you read this humble blog, and I hope that in some way you are inspired to never stop writing every day no matter what life throws at you.

I have determined to make an effort to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes. My soul sings when I create; how could I be so cruel and deprive it of  such joy and expression?

I love reading your thoughts. Have you also had times when the mundane necessities of life have interfered with your first passion? Please share!

What Would You Attempt To Do If You Had No Fear?

QuoteWith the new year spread out before me and nothing yet written – both figuratively and literally (and I am talking new works here) – I have the power to create not only new literary works but my very life, and the message I’ve been reading and hearing about the most since 2014 began is that I have the power to decide what I want and how to go about getting it.

Whatever your faith, whether you believe in God or the Universe or your own creative power, I know that this is possible, and therefore I have presented myself with a challenge: This year will not be a year of negating or doubting my skills as a writer, creator, student, teacher, and wife. I want this year to be different to last year. Oh, I accomplished a lot last year, but by the time December rolled by I had a distinct sense of non-achievement. I could have done more, achieved more, written more, learned more, and become more.

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

So, this year I am going to achieve great things. I am going to improve my writing skills; I’m going to finish rewriting and editing The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 and get it published, and then rewrite and edit the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2012! Yes, I haven’t had time to do it yet because my tetralogy had to be completed first and I’ve never been the kind of person to handle two writing projects at once. That’s just how my brain works! I give all my attention to one main project and if an idea comes along for another book I jot it down to come back to it later.

Now, some of you may think that all this is a simple case of procrastination, but, unfortunately, it’s worse than that. Feeling despondent because I’m not selling as many books as I’d like, or because more people are interested in 50 Shades of Grey than epic fantasy, is quite simply an excuse to not to keep focusing on what I want! I began writing my Sword Bearers tetralogy because it needed to be written; it needed to be read and shared with the world – even if that world was only a handful of people.

When I started, I wasn’t as skilled as I am now. I made mistakes and I had to learn as I went along. I read excerpts from Book 1 now (The Sword Bearers) and I pick up those small mistakes, things that a rookie might do their first time out. But you know what, I’m so proud of that first book. I nicknamed it The Beautiful Monster because it was both beautiful and a monster in that it took so much out of me – blood, sweat, and tears, as it were. But I did it! It was one of the greatest achievements of my entire life! I didn’t give in to the fear of public opinion or my lack of knowledge or the fact that I was writing in a genre that wasn’t as popular as romance or thrillers or the paranormal.

Book 1 in The Sword Bearers tetralogy

Book 1 in The Sword Bearers tetralogy

My writing career began in 2009, and by the time 2013 came along I had read hundreds of blogs by experienced writers and editors and publishers, enough to make me doubt myself that the fear I defied writing Book 1 suddenly reared up and took hold of me and I started slowing down. There were too many people telling me what I was doing wrong and, the worst, not to publish until my work was perfect! Perfection? Really? I didn’t know that perfection actually existed in the human race!

Thank goodness I didn’t listen to those ‘perfect’ bloggers and experts but rather to the writers who had tried and failed, tried and failed, tried again and failed again, and how they kept going and finally succeeded. Those are the people I gravitated towards because those are the people who were like me. They had faced their fears and had snubbed their doubts and had pushed ahead and had conquered not only their fears but their shortcomings regarding their skill as writers.

So, this is what I have decided for 2014: No resolutions, but rather a decision to approach my year with the same fearless tenacity I had when I decided to write my first novel. I have grown so much as a person and a writer since The Sword Bearers: Book 1. I am a better writer – more skilled, more knowledgeable, braver, and more confident – and armed with these truths and a determination to create my future, I will accomplish a lot more than I did last year and the year before that and the year before that!

My message to you today is to defy your fears, your doubts, your concerns, and those people who say you can’t and press forward with new determination. If you need more knowledge then go get it; if you have a weakness then face it and deal with it; if you have lack in a particular skill then find out how to improve it. But whatever you do, do it with no fear!

Truthfully, there isn’t really anything that exists that you can’t accomplish this year. You just need to believe it, and then hold on to it as you approach every new project.

Personally, I have to rewrite and edit The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4. Writing this incredible story, a story that began in 1978 when I saw Star Wars for the first time, has been a thrilling, joyous, and often tearful journey as I’ve told the tale of the characters that have lived with me for over thirty years! Coming to the end had me sobbing, and I mean sobbing! But typing that last sentence filled me with such a sense of accomplishment and joy and all because I started it with no fear!

I love hearing your thoughts! Tell me about your fears and doubts and how you overcame them. Do you still face any? Maybe I can help.

Writing is my Drug. Without it I’m too…normal!!

My Escape

 

Only writers will get this, but when I can’t sit at my computer everyday and write I feel disconnected from the universe, from myself, and from my characters. Reality crowds in and I start getting irritable and my husband thinks someone else has taken up residence inside his wife.

Sometimes life and work crowd in and take over; well, they actually take me away from where I really want to be and from what I want to do. Working to pay the bills and put food on the table is necessary, but if I had a choice I wouldn’t do it. It’s days like that when I envy professional writers their freedom to not have to do another job besides their beloved writing.

I’ve been bogged down with dance festivals for the last three weeks, and even though I’ve had a few days where I’ve managed to get down around 10-14 pages, they came too seldom. I enjoy choreographing and creating dances for the kids I teach; I love seeing the end product on the stage and watching my girls, with whom I’ve been rehearsing for months, performing their hearts out and getting rewarded for their hard work and dedication. Now, this used to be my entire life – dancing, performing, rehearsing, choreographing – but when writing came along and my dance career slowed down it became my entire existence. I couldn’t believe that creating with words was as intoxicating, if not more so, than dancing. Oh, believe me, nothing beats being on stage in front of an audience and drawing them in and making them laugh or cry or applaud – it is definitely an art form where you get instant gratification and recognition – and even though writing produces the same results it just takes a little longer and a lot more (and a different kind of) work.

Pen on Paper

Writing when I’m exhausted is also hard and it takes great effort to sit down in front of my computer and make the start. But what I’ve learned as a reasonably new author, is that once I begin, once I set my imagination free, then there’s no stopping me. Tired or not, I can write all day. The adrenaline, the force that pulses through me, is addictive and one drug I hope never to give up.

Dance and writing are very different and very similar: they are both visual art forms and require the observer to use their imagination; they both take the observer on a magical journey, an escape from reality that the observer craves; they both grab the observer’s attention and hold them captive, and here is the first major difference: dance incorporates music, lighting, costumes, sets – basically, all the visuals are physically provided to help the observer become engrossed in the atmosphere created for them – whereas in a book the observer, with the author’s help, is left to create their own world, their own physical interpretation of the story, all taking place in the mind.

I thank God for giving me the ability to create and imagine. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying: “Imagination is more important than knowledge…” He understood the power of imagination, that it is limitless whereas knowledge is not, and as a dancer, dance teacher, and a writer I understand and acknowledge and welcome its power, and I’m grateful for the ability to use it to its fullest extent – tired or not 🙂

When I danced professionally it consumed my world; I could not even contemplate doing anything else. But time past and life, too, and when I discovered the world of writing I realised that dance isn’t all there is. There were other ways for me to express and share what was inside me, what was inside my mind and heart, just that now it was with words. I approached it tentatively, this new, scary thing, and once I tried it and discovered that putting down on paper what was in my head was just a little harder than creating a dance piece (choreography is as natural to me as breathing!), and it slowly started taking hold of me like a powerful drug coursing through my veins and setting my heart and soul on fire! Never did I think that writing would consume me so, and I allowed it to because it replaced my passion and love of dance, soothing the pain of leaving that world behind.

Image courtesy of blackballerinas.tumblr.com

Image courtesy of blackballerinas.tumblr.com

Teaching dance is my job; writing is my new passion, and I cannot think of doing anything else. It’s a good thing I can write ’til I drop dead one day. I don’t think this body would be able to do leaps and turns as well as I used to as the decades go by 🙂

When I write I feel invincible, I feel alive and full of joy, so when the ‘normal’ stuff of life encroaches I get very grumpy. I even hate stopping to have food when I’m in the flow. Ask my hubby; he’s had full on conversations with me while I’ve been writing and I haven’t heard a word!! He’s slowly learning not to mess with me when I’m in the zone 🙂

Tell me about the things that you’d rather give up than have your writing interrupted. I love reading your thoughts! Please share!

Hearing the Heartbeat of Your Story is Essential for Realism

Dancers have to feel and express the rhythm of the music in order to interpret it correctly and thus deliver a convincing performance the audience can FEEL and experience with them!!

Dancers have to feel and express the rhythm of the music in order to interpret it correctly and thus deliver a convincing performance the audience can FEEL and experience with them!!

We’ve all experienced it: We get a great idea for a story, and then we begin writing it down. Is it that simple? Yes and no.

Anyone can get a great idea – a twist on a classic or a recent movie or a song – because they’re all out there for the taking. So, what turns a great idea into a masterpiece? Right from the very beginning, as the words take form and the outline reveals itself, you must find the unique heartbeat, the specific tonality, the feel of the tale that separates it from every other story out there. And to hear that singular ‘voice’ speaking to you from wherever you believe stories come, you need to have the ability to listen, then recognise it, then express it in words.

It has been proven time and time again that if a group of say twenty kids get given the same sentence with which to begin their story you will invariably end up with twenty different stories. But the one that gets the A+ is the one that went outside the box and found a place so different from where convention dwells that the reader (in this case, the teacher) is blown away and immediately identifies the unusual/unique potential of that student. It’s not that the student had any special educational advantage over her peers, it’s rather that she lives her life by exploring the unconventional and opens her mind to things that most kids do not. The dreamers, the inventors, the ones that usually get into trouble for not concentrating in class – those are the kids the innovators of the world should be paying attention to and helping them expand those gloriously open, unfettered minds.

There are no limits to the imagination!

There are no limits to the imagination!

A great tool to use when writing – and this is fantastic if ever you find yourself stuck for an idea – is to ask: “What if?” What if the laws of nature didn’t apply to this character or this situation? What if there were no morals or ethics binding a character to act a certain way? What if reality wasn’t reality but mere illusion? What if the impossible was possible?

Many writers would say that getting to know your characters as if they were your best friends helps to make the story more real even if they’re writing about fantasy or the paranormal or science fiction. To imagine themselves where the characters are, to get in on the conversation and feel and hear what each unique personality is saying, lends greater passion and realism to a scene, even if they’re talking about swords and sorcery.

Every story has its own rhythm. Every character has his or her unique style and personality. But to get all this to a place of realism you need to live your story through every word and action. Place yourself in their position – the good and the evil characters – and try to understand them as though they were you. ‘See’ how they move and ‘hear’ how they speak (the inflections and nuances in their voices – including what they’re thinking), the way their faces move, the way their bodies move, and, of course, every single emotion they experience, whether expressed in the scene or secretly thought and felt. If they are angry you must feel angry. If they are upset or weeping then you must share in it with them, for if you can experience it all then your reader will, too!

There's great magic in realism!

There’s great magic in realism!

When writing in the same genre there is a danger that an author can end up having books with similar characters who have similar behaviours and find themselves in similar situations. I find this happening even among the greatest authors of our day. Their stories are all different, but I sometimes have a sense of knowing a character too well like I’ve met them before, and then I realise they’re a lot like another character in another book by the same author! It never fails to disappoint.

Have you written many books? If so, have you made sure that each new story has its own voice, its own heartbeat?

I urge you to spend time getting to know your new characters intimately, giving them their own existence, and making sure they don’t have a clone lurking around somewhere in another book. Take the time to make them unique, from their looks to the way they speak and act and interact with the other characters, because, believe me, your reader will pick up on a fake character just like they pick up on a fake actor who has not immersed herself in her role. It’s painful and distracting and makes the viewer want to stop watching because it’s impossible to get totally absorbed in the story when it feels unrealistic or fake.

Surrender to the power of the tale and allow it to direct you instead of the other way round! This is a quote from a friend on Facebook that is just perfect for what I have spoken about today: “Authors do not create characters. We open our minds to the unknown worlds and allow them to tell us their stories through these unseen doors. Then we write it all down for those who do not have the ability to open the doors on their own.” ~ Beth Fullaway

I love hearing your thoughts! Tell me about your experiences as a writer and creator of unique tales, and if you struggle – or don’t – with bringing your characters to life in a way that makes them as real as possible!

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

Passion, Knowledge, Failure, and Success – What I Learned About Writing

“I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because, as you will read below, passion must always be balanced with knowledge!”

Writing Inspiration

I never had a clue! Going into my first ever major writing project held great excitement, and my passion was never in question. I was, however, keenly aware of my lack of knowledge when it came to punctuation, which was (and still is) a constant challenge to get just right, including other details regarding grammar and style.

I did have one thing going for me, though, and that was the enormous amount of reading I’d done since I could read as a child, and the conscious, and unconscious laser-like attention I paid to how a writer wrote, how he/she brought across his/her story, and how he/she pulled me in by using only words and no pictures. I was fascinated with the ‘how’ every time, and it didn’t take me long to realise that I had developed a burning desire to do what they were doing, too.

The Six Golden Rules of Writing

But the last time I went to school was over twenty years ago, and there was no way I remembered all that boring English stuff. So, I had to start from scratch and pay more attention while I read. To my great advantage, the writers whose works I read were superb in their craft, masters and word technicians to envy, and that is literally (pun intended:) ) where my re-schooling began.

Paging through my first novel, I sometimes cringe when I come across things that I now know – with my vastly increased knowledge – that need to be rewritten and changed and re-edited. Grrrr! Why didn’t I see that when I wrote it? I ask myself. Because you just didn’t know there was a better way, I remind myself.

Now, I could rant and rave and die of embarrassment, or I can laugh about it, learn from it, and simply become better. And that, dear friends, is what I decided to do. The Sword bearers: Book 1 is fantastic story – to which my 4 and 5 star reviews will attest – and that’s what gives me peace and encouragement about being a storyteller. I am good at it and my readers love what I create and how I deliver it, but I can always be better at it!

I have spoken often in my blogs about having a balance between passion and knowledge and I still stand by that. I write my first draft with my heart leading the way, and then when I rewrite and edit I let my mind, and all the knowledge it has gained to this point, take control and make it sharper, clearer, tighter, and even more fantastic.

I, for one, don’t write for the critics. I have always been passionate about making my readers excited and enthralling them and taking them on a journey they will never forget. I’m good at that; I’m a natural storyteller. However, the nitty-gritty is what makes my books greater. I have to pay attention to the details – the punctuation, the flow, the style, the correct language usage in the right way. Simply put, how I present my work to the world is as important as the story if I want to make my mark on the world.

Re Criticism for Writers

I don’t actually see the small mistakes in Book 1 as failures; I see them as learning curves, and I encourage you to do the same. It’s easy to give in to feelings of regret and embarrassment, but once you go down that path it is very difficult to see yourself as a talented, significant writer with something important to say and share with the world.
My first novel is brilliant the way it is because it represents all of me and who I was at the time. It contains my heart and soul, tears and blood and as such cannot be better than what it is.

People might be quick to criticise and point out the faults in your work, but don’t listen to them unless their observations are valid and you can improve your writing as a result. As an example, when I published my first sci-fi short story, The Door, and another author read it, he was quick to point out that I used the word ‘wander’ instead of ‘wonder’ and it appeared on the very first page. I was mortified and angry with myself for missing it during editing and I quickly corrected it, feeling much better and relieved for doing so. Now, initially I was peeved about someone pointing out my mistake because my ego loves to wallow in self-pity and self-recrimination, but then I told myself to grow up! This man had helped me improve my writing and had helped me become more dogged in finding such errors, ergo be a lot more meticulous in the future. Because of him I now pay more attention to all those words that look so similar.

The point is, when you learn from your mistakes then you are already a success. When your writing improves because you listened and took note of constructive criticism, then you are a success. You only fail when you refuse to pay attention, when you allow your ego to control you, because then you can move forward instead of standing still!

It takes a lot of conscious effort to not allow my past lack of knowledge affect me now when I am so much better at what I do. And I am getting stronger and better every single day I sit in front of my computer and write! You’ve got to believe in your ability to grow and learn because when you do there is only one direction you can go from where you currently find yourself: Up, up, and away to greater success!

Freedom!

Have you allowed past mistakes to affect you? Do you cringe and berate yourself because of them or do you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge what can cripple your creativity and keep you from becoming a master of your craft if you let it?

I love reading your thoughts. Please share your personal experiences with us.

The Afterglow of Finishing a 700-page Novel – again!!!

The Cover Image for Book 3: The Sword Bearer's Awakening

The Cover Image for Book 3: The Sword Bearer’s Awakening

Yes, that’s what I’ve just accomplished! It’s done! It’s being printed – hard and soft cover – and formatted as an ebook to be released very soon, and I walk around, whether at home or at work, in a kinda daze ’cause writing my third epic fantasy novel – all three around 700 pages long! – is like conquering Everest…thrice!!!

Whew! *wipes brow*

What a journey of sheer ecstasy, mingled with the usual blood, sweat, and tears, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. These characters, this exciting, thrilling world is so part of me now I can’t even imagine parting with them. The fourth book, The Sword Bearer’s Ascension, is the last in the tetralogy, and I’ve already started it. I know how it ends, and every time I think about it I can cry. Those tears are for the moment I edit the last word and then, with the touch of a key, send it off to be published. On that day there will be many tears and perhaps a lot of drinking (I don’t drink, by the way, which tells you how bad it’s gonna be!), and my hubby will have to deal with a weeping mess.

Flu1 by evah sxc

I believe my sadness stems from the undeniable fact that my characters are so intrinsically part of me, and saying farewell is like losing part of myself. This story has grown and evolved inside me since I was eight years old, that’s thirty-six years of living with and breathing life into this wonderful tale, bringing life to my characters, and creating a brand new world from scratch; thirty-six years of bringing this story to fruition, to a place where I could finally put it down on paper and realise a lifelong dream of being published and sharing this marvellous story with the entire world!

Hemingway

I know many of you reading this know exactly what I’m talking about. I understand what Hemingway said about ‘bleeding’ onto the page. It’s the same as a dancer losing herself in the choreography, and a musician losing himself in his creation. It is in those moments that the observer/listener sees the magic, the glory, the power, and joins with the artist in a journey that takes them far away from boring reality.

When I get comments from reviewers saying they are moved to tears when they read my book, I know I’ve bled enough. Then I know I held nothing back, and that I have accomplished what every artist seeks to accomplish: making a ‘normal’ feel, imagine, live, experience, become so utterly absorbed that they temporarily forget where they are.

The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3 is the powerful, emotional, thrilling continuation of what transpires in Books 1 and 2. Out of the four books I wrote this one first because it is the very heart of the story; it is where the adventure began for me; it is the birth of all the characters and of this unique universe.

I will keep you up to date as the release date nears, and as soon as I have a copy of the cover you’ll see it right here – and all over Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, ect.

Butterfly Heart

I want to take this moment to thank everyone who has supported me during this great adventure, from reviewers to readers to friends and family. All of you make this magical dream possible.

Writing Book 4 is going to be an amazing, emotional experience for me, and even though it will be one of the saddest days of my life when I complete it, I will be celebrating a near lifetime of glorious creation. I will write many, many more stories for I have a boundless imagination that contains an endless supply of fantastic tales (one is almost finished actually, thanks to NaNoWriMo 2012), and I just might continue with The Sword Bearers into the next generation…?

I love hearing your thoughts, so put them down right here. Tell me about your personal journey, and how it makes you feel when you end a project you’ve become so emotionally attached to.

Are You a Giver or a Trader?

"Please, God, I'll do anything! I don't need to be happy just rich and famous!"

“Please, God, I’ll do anything! I don’t need to be happy just rich and famous!”

If you had the opportunity, would you do anything to become a famous author, even if it destroys your soul?

I’ve just finished watching a fantastic programme called “Tapping the Source”, and one of the lessons I learned from this inspiring programme (one of many, let me tell you!) was doing something without expecting anything in return. That’s a very hard thing to do never mind to even consider, and it’s a good ol’ smack in the face for our egos because since when in these tough lives of ours do we do anything without hoping for or expecting something in return? I mean, we give cash to receive the things we desire, be it food, clothes, toys, that new iPhone, so we grow up learning that when we give something to someone then it is our right to get something in return.

The ironic thing is, though, that in reality if you want the great results in life like joy, abundance, success and even fame, it requires you to be thankful for everything you already have – whether you like those things in your life or not – and to give without expecting or demanding something in return. Your ego screams at you, “No, no, no! Don’t be an idiot! The next thing you’ll have people walking all over you and abusing your generosity. Are you insane?!”

Who's in control of your life, your arrogant, self-serving ego or the giving, loving person you were created to be? One destroys, the other creates.

Who’s in control of your life: your arrogant, self-serving ego or the giving, loving person you were created to be? One destroys, the other creates.

It’s true. As a ‘normal’ human being, brought up by well-meaning parents, I was taught that you don’t just give away what you’ve worked so hard for. Nothing’s for free! In order to get something you have to earn it – pay for it in some fashion. In other words, unless you trade something that’s precious to you then you will never get like in return and you learn to expect the same from others.

It’s very difficult for us to give away what we’ve poured sweat and tears into, what we’ve poured our very souls into. Like our books. For most of us it takes months of writing, then a couple more to revise, then a couple more to get edited, proofread, compiled, and then, finally, almost a year later, published. Now I must just give it away without getting anything in return? you ask. Are you nuts?!!

If you had to be honest with yourself, whenever you have those fabulous Amazon Select days when your precious work is available for free, you must feel a little cheated when hundreds of copies get downloaded (after you’ve only sold about twenty to thirty at .99c so far) and you know you will never see a dime; you will never get anything in return for the precious gift you’ve given to those hundreds of people. What exactly are your expectations going in? Do you ask yourself questions like: “Geez, can’t anyone just afford .99c, for goodness sake?” or “Are they buying it because I’m a great writer or because it’s free? Do they even know who I am? Do they even know what other books I’ve written?” Your ego steps in to protect and defend you with teeth bared. You feel despair, and that awful feeling of unfairness, of being done a great wrong, creeps into your gut and starts chomping away. Was the give-away as satisfying as you’d imagined, then?

The question you need to ask is this: What was my motivation for doing it?

If your motivation was to get a hundred reviews, and all those people demanding more of you and your writing, then okay. But what does it do to you when you don’t get that exact return on your investment? Do you begin to lose hope? Do you begin to doubt yourself and your abilities? Do you begin to think that everything you’ve done has been a waste of time, that an entire year of effort has been for naught and that it and you are now worthless and, in fact, completely invisible to the millions of readers out there?

I certainly hope not, dear writer!!!

I guess it boils down to expectation. But there’s the rub (I apologise for the copious clichés). When you give your beloved work away what exactly are your expectations? Do you expect to receive the same value back that you so generously put in? Or do you do it out of love – to share your work and passion and talent with the world and become wonderfully elated in the divine act of giving and sharing freely?

Having balance is always the wisest choice

Having perfect balance in your life and work is always the wisest choice

My advice would be to create a balance, because that’s what makes life so enjoyable and fulfilling. Have one give-away as an act of love and as your gift to the world to feed your soul with the joy it deserves, and then do a give-away where you work really hard to encourage people to get to know you and your work, to encourage them to spend money on you next time because you’re so incredibly worth it.

You are worth getting paid for what you do, but you are also worth the joy, love, and fulfilment sharing and giving without the expectation of receiving will bring your heart and soul. Find balance and your rewards will be beyond your wildest expectations.

The choice, dear writer, is yours.

I love hearing your thoughts! Please leave a comment and tell me about your experiences and what you think about giving without expecting anything in return, especially if it involves the sacrifice of your most precious gifts.

Images courtesy of eyebiz, wgroesel, and sradion

Related Articles:

Don’t Sell Yourself Too Cheaply – You are of Great Worth (moniquerockliffe.wordpress.com)

What Keeps Me Going When Hiding Looks So Darn Good?

Flu1 by evah sxc

As you can tell by the heading, I’m feeling fed up, and having a cold doesn’t help matters at all!! It’s more than just feeling tired and gross that has me feeling like throwing in the towel, though, and here is that reason:

Are all my efforts paying off? Are all the hours spent editing my third book, and promoting and marketing the first two and the soon to be released third, actually going to make a difference to me or the world? Will I ever see my sales skyrocket? Will I ever be on a best-seller list? Do my 2,360 followers on Twitter and over 1000 fans on Facebook actually care what I’m writing? Do they even know that I’m writing?

The answer: I dunno!!!

Next question: Does it matter?

Answer: Yes…and no.

Yes because it’s my responsibility as a self-published author to reach my followers on Twitter and fans on Facebook through self-promotion and marketing. It’s my responsibility to make people notice me and learn about me and my work and to educate them on what I do. It is my job to learn how to do all of this effectively in the minimum amount of time.

When I decided to go Indie I accepted the challenge to do everything myself, therefore it most certainly is my responsibility to train and educate myself on how to go about it, and then to get on with it! My unique personality is what attracts more attention; my relationship with friends, fans, and followers across the entire Social Media platform is what draws them to me and ultimately my work.

Hand Shake1 by pixelstar sxc

Trust is key. I cannot earn trust without building relationships – relationships that are powerful, significant, and influential. Be smart, I always say to myself, not busy. Doing too much can become as ineffectual as doing nothing at all. Learn from those who are successful and listen to your intuition when it comes to what information to use for your specific situation and goal.

So, yes, it does matter – but only when I’m smart and spend less time doing too much of the superficial stuff and more time doing what’s deeply effective, personal, and more attentive towards those that are potential readers of my work. The focus should be on them. I now believe that being too inwardly focused is damaging to my relationships and, as a result, my work. I need to focus more on the hearts of my potential readers than in trying to ram my novels down their throats. Maybe then I’ll get the attention I want.

Now, the answer to the question is also no because when it comes right down to it I am mainly writing for the privilege of being able to create an incredible, unique story of thrilling adventures and filled with so much emotion, fantastic characters, and detailed experiences that I am always left amazed when I read my first draft after all the writing’s done. “I made that,” I often exclaim in astonishment, and once again I am humbled by the indescribable gift of storytelling I’ve been given.

I may never be a best-seller or rate up there with Stephen King and Terry Brooks, but I most certainly will produce the best piece if fantasy literature I can achieve on my journey at this moment in time.

Of course, all the effort is worth. I have to learn to be more efficient, less long-winded in all my promotion and marketing, and more attentive and faithful to my potential readers.

And never, ever must I give in to the feelings of helplessness, despondency, and doubt that attack me when I least expect it. Those tough moments are delivered to me with love, and within them are lessons to be learned and encouragements and urgings to review what I’ve done in the past and move on from those things that are not working.

Cover of "Carrie"

Cover of Carrie

No effort is ever wasted. Those sincere attempts might not be as potent and productive as they could be but they always count – whether you’re learning how to do it better or finding out what’s not important. If what you’re doing isn’t producing results then change it or discard it or it will eat away your enthusiasm like bubbling acid until there’s nothing left and you feel like giving up and throwing your work in the bin. Remember what happened to Stephen King? He threw Carrie in the dustbin and his wife fished it out, told him to finish it, and then submit it. It was his first novel and he got over $200, 000.00 for it!! He never looked back after that! Thank goodness his wife never accepted the despondency and discouragement of her husband. Can you imagine what would have happened to King if he’d done that with all his later manuscripts?

Oh, and never make judgements and decisions about editing/writing when you’re tired, hungry, or sick!

Hope this helps you in some way. My personal situation has certainly taught me a lot these past few weeks and finding a balance between caring and not caring – caring about what works and not caring about what appears to be failing (when it actually isn’t) – is the most important place to be as a writer at all times. Being aware of potential failures and things that don’t work and never will is a good place to be because at least then you can recognise the dangers and steer clear of them. Go after what rings true to your heart and spirit and trust in your best Friend – your Muse/God/the Universe – who always faithfully carries you through the tough times, even when you aren’t aware of it!

Dreams in Pi 2 by ugaldew sxc

I love hearing from you, so share your ‘dark’ moments with us so that we can be encouraged and our enthusiasm boosted to continue on with our beautiful craft!

 

First Image Courtesy of evah

Second Image courtesy of pixelstar

Fourth image (Dreams in Pi 2) courtesy of ugaldev

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