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Posts tagged with: writer’s life

WHY DO YOU WRITE?

Why Do You Write?

In the writing communities I belong to, the question being asked is why should I continue to write. Authors of all levels are asking this question because their incomes have dropped dramatically. Many can no longer support their families or the life style they’ve become accustomed too. They’re searching for jobs which will more than likely become their main source of income, or they’re downsizing their properties and portfolios. They’re citing many reasons for this occurrence?

  • Technology has created self-publishing platforms which allow anyone who has the desire and drive to publish their works.

  • Readers can not find them in the volume of books being published each day and advertising is hard to get and not cheap.

  • Readers are demanding more books faster than they can write and more on quickly to those authors who write quickly.

  • They are book farms and book pirates pilfering work and republishing it under a pseudonym.

  • The sea of readers is drying up because of other forms of entertainment have captured their attention.

  • Their readers are sadly dying off.

The list of reasons grows longer every day.

So why write?

Let me tell you a story about a little boy. At the age of three, he received a baseball glove and a ball for Christmas. From that moment on, he was in love with the big-league game. He watched and learned and practiced, and practiced. He played in church leagues, for his school and eventually for the U.S. Air Force team. When he came home from servicing his country, he returned to his church leagues and the city leagues.

One day, he was offered a try out for the Baltimore Team. We went. He wasn’t offered a contract, but it didn’t matter to him. He continued to play hard ball in leagues until he was sixty-four of age when cancer came on the scene. In all the years I’d known him, he once never regretted not making the big leagues because there was so much of his life he loved and would never give up for fame and fortune. But he never stopped loving the game and playing it.

He was my husband and best friend. Jim’s frame of mind mirrored my own as I started on this golden brick road to publishing. I love to talk to my characters and learn about them. I love to research and learn new things. I love creating stories and entertaining others with them. I never thought I’d be the next big thing, nor would I want it. I’ll continue to work my day job (which I’m working now, so I’ll reply when I’m able) to support my family, and have my writing support itself and maybe a nice vacation.

However, we all live in different situations and have different dreams. Whatever you decide is your path, be at peace with it, and know five years down the road the game will change again.

 

 

WWW.AUTUMNJORDON.COM

 

 

My Second Favorite Word

Like many writers, I love words, and when I started pursuing publication yes quickly became my favorite word.  Yes, I like your pages. Yes, you are a Golden Heart Finalist.  Yes, I want to represent you.  Yes, I want to publish your book.  Yes, you are number one in the kindle store.  That yes feeling is a euphoria I could ride for days, but what I didn’t realize at first was that my second favorite word would become no.

Maybe it’s just a weird thing about me, but lately I find rejections surprisingly satisfying.  It’s the knowing.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I was on a writer’s panel last week, with authors from a mix of genres. Children’s books. Memoirs. Poetry. Romance. One of the questions the moderator asked was: Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how do you get past it?

After the votes were counted, we had three who believed and four who didn’t. But two interesting things happened in the seven answers.

  • We all explained how we got past writer’s block.
  • Those who didn’t believe were more emphatic about stating their opinion as fact.

Thankful Beyond the Usual

Tomorrow’s the day. Many of us in the US have been rushing around gathering food, packing it away in every little inch of our over-worked refrigerators. Others of us have been filling suitcases and making travel arrangements, bravely venturing out on the road during the busiest travel-time of the year. We find ourselves frantic, exhausted, and downright ornery.

And yet this is also a time when we are supposed to be thankful. We are expected to have something to write on a paper leaf to read at the Thanksgiving meal before your little niece pins it to the Thanksgiving tree. Inwardly you may groan, outwardly you’ll scribble out the basics – family, food, a day off. And this is fine. People will smile and nod, and you’ll go on to eat your pumpkin pie.

But what if…what if you take a moment to contemplate the positive things in your life that might not be so obvious. Challenges or predicaments that aren’t ideal and don’t initially seem like something for which to be thankful. Here is my outside-the-usual list:

  1. My fourteen-year-old mini-van: There are mysterious stains, petrified cheerios jammed in the corners, and a few dents on the exterior. But I’m thankful that I have a vehicle that still gets me around (and is paid off). I am thankful that I don’t have to worry about my 17yo scratching it while practicing driving. I don’t worry about people hitting it with their car doors in parking lots or a kid dropping a ketchup-loaded French fry. My golden retriever jumps around it in excitement as we drive to a park, leaving her golden fleece in every orifice. Yes, I’m also thankful for my shop-vac.

  2. My smallish bank account: We all want more money. We have also seen what happens when someone wins the lottery and their lives fall apart. I have enough money that I’m not worried about it constantly. But not enough that relatives ask me for “loans” or whisper about me being rich and greedy behind my back. I also have no qualms about turning down telemarketers who want to sell me magazines. I love to treasure hunt at thrift stores, and when I find a $10 bill in a jacket I haven’t worn since last season, it’s a thrill. Money can be a blessing and a curse, depending on what you do with it. It’s very tricky and the fact that I don’t have much – well I don’t have to worry about it.

  3. My medium-sized house: Yes, my house, with two spirited kids (#3 is at college now), three guinea pigs, two sugar gliders, one large dog, and one 6’4’’ Highlander hubby feels over-stuffed at times. But when my 11yo worries that I won’t hear her in the night, I remind her that I’m just down a short hall. On self-enforced cleaning days, I know that if the house was twice the size, it would take twice the time to get things picked up and wiped down. When I hear a bump in the night, my dog and my husband’s baseball bat can pinpoint pretty easily where in the house it is coming from (Watch out frying pan falling out of the dish drain! They’re coming for you!). My air conditioning/heating bill is lower and I love my relatively small mortgage payment. My house is adequate and sturdy, but my home is snug and cozy, often filled with laughter, and packed with love.

  4. Always busy: Sometimes this is the hardest thing for which to be thankful. And we do need to take breaks to relax to protect our mental and physical health. But when you feel like you are sprinting to check things off your to-do list, take a minute to be thankful. Thankful that someone needs you. Thankful that you have a skill or the ability to help. Thankful that you have a job or have the money to grocery shop or that you are healthy enough to do the million things you feel you must do. Think about those people who have no family, no careers, no goals to work toward. At first it would be a vacation, but add weeks, months, years behind that, and you’d feel the emptiness. There is a middle ground, which I am constantly trying to find, but I am thankful that my life is full.

  5. Difficult Days with Kids: My three kids are very dramatic to start with. But on those days when there are boyfriend/girlfriend breakups, a failed test, a fight with a close friend, a sick or dying pet, the stomach flu, a broken-down car, a close friend who tried to kill themselves, a call from the police at 1AM, a huge mistake in trusting someone who gave them a prescription pill… Whatever it is, there are tears and yelling and praying and drama like you wouldn’t believe. Some of you know even worse days, and you just want to lay face down on the floor and cry. My challenge for you is to remember how much worse it would be if you weren’t there to hug, dry tears, give advice, untangle complex issues, listen, find them medical care, help them figure out what to say, wrap them in a warm blanket from the dryer, or just plain love them.

  6. My body: Over the last seven years, due to medical issues, I’ve gained thirty-five pounds. I was thrown into instant menopause with surgery, so the fight to remove the pounds is monumental. But I still do yoga every day. I walk the dog. I lift weights and can keep up with my kids. I can mow the lawn, ride bikes, and carry six bags of groceries at once. I ride roller coasters and can dance the night away with my husband (if it’s before my 10 PM wall of exhaustion). I have my limbs, my bowels, and my five senses. So even as I fight the envy that creeps in on me when I watch moms in size 6 jeans, I am truly thankful for the body I have and the amazing things it can do.

  7. Growing older: I turned 40 seven years ago and hated it. Every time I’d see an elderly lady, I’d cringe, thinking “ugh! One day that will be me.” Then four months later I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and started 15-months of chemo to kill the sneaky disease spreading through me. It was the hardest, most painful and scariest time of my life. But what I learned…I would never trade. When I turned 41, I celebrated big time. Now when I see an elderly woman I smile, thinking “wow, she’s winning the race. I hope that will be me someday.” Paradigm shift to say the least. Folks – growing older is the goal. Don’t hate every wrinkle, gray hair and extra candle. Celebrate that you are alive and moving forward. Celebrate every year, every day that you get to breathe fresh air, see the gorgeous world, and hug the ones you love.

It really is a glass-half-full world if you are willing to consider a different perspective. No, our lives are definitely not perfect. Some days you may feel like you’re maneuvering through the flames of Hades (been there, got the t-shirt), but even then, there are tiny flowers that peek up from the cracks in our world if we are willing to notice. They don’t fix the cracks, they don’t fill up the holes in our lives, but taking a moment to acknowledge them and maybe even be thankful for them – well, it helps us to take those crucial steps forward.

So this year, when you get your little paper leaf for the Thanksgiving tree or when someone asks you what you are thankful for, perhaps go a little outside the norm and see those little flowers growing out of the cracked sidewalk.

What are you thankful for this year?

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! Heather

MY SPACE DIED

If you read my blog last week, you know I began to dissect my life, trying to learn what is crushing my muse and acting on the beasts. One of the things was my writing space.  With the pool closed and the last tomato is picked and the weather is turning frosty, my writing spaces has moved back indoors. The grandkids who live with rule 90 % of the house, which made me retreat to my and what I discovered was not good. NOT AT ALL.

Sometime over the past spring and summer my Zen space became a storage area. With a bathroom remodel the stuff had to go somewhere. Yuck. The dust and clutter. They do nothing to help my muse, so I spent the better half of one day sorting and cleaning until I felt my muse say, “Okay. It’s doable. We can start the book, but we’re not done here.”

I love writing outdoors, but when the weather doesn’t allow me to, I need a space that doesn’t remind me that I have a list housework to get done. I need a space that inspires me to dream of another world and especially the two humans living in it. (our characters are real to us, no?)

If you haven’t learned this yet, you must. Everyone single person in this world is unique, perceives things differently, and has distinctive ways of learning and when we’re writing we’re learning about are characters lives. Some of us are visual people. They might want to color-code files to differentiate topics. Indulge in colored pens, highlighters, paper and index cards. Paint the walls of their creative space with vibrant, exciting colors. Or hang vacation pictures, or pictures of your characters and your story’s settings. They might try, with a pencil in hand, brainstorming, diagraming or just doodling while visualizing the next scene.

Some of us auditory people. We need music! Crank it up.  Or open the windows and enjoy the sounds of the world. Even family activity can keep you focus, so keep that office door cracked. This type might pack up their writing and head out to a café or library. They also can meet or call a friend and talk out their story plot.

Kinesthetic people rely on touch to trigger their muse, so tactile toys are ads to tickling their muses. They should select textured desk accessories. Mixed them up. Experiment with different kinds of paper and pens. For them, motion is a cure for writer’s block, so take a walk.  

I’ve found that I’m a little bit of all three types. I can’t learn simply by watching or listening and I’m definitely not the type to sit in my chair for long periods of time. Doing so, puts a strangle hold on my muse.  To keep my muse excited, I need to change things up now and then which means I’ll write in different locations in my home, but I can’t do the café thing. Not me. I’ve tried. I’ve written while standing at my kitchen counter or sitting on the floor next to sliding doors with the sun shining down on me. I can walk for twenty minutes and then come back and knock out a couple hundred words in the next twenty. I love free writing with a pad and pencil. Not a pen. Pens restrict me. The words seem too irrevocable. Nuts, I know. But I am who I am.

In my office, my walls are painted yellow. I love plants so there a few of them.  Pictures of family and friends are everywhere. My awards are mixed in with my keeper books, and some awesome reviews and inspiring quotes are posted near my laptop. I have a bulletin board filled with character and setting pictures for my current work. Pictures of my past characters adore another area.

I burn lemon or jasmine candles because the scents inspire creativity. And sounds, my muse feeds on classical and new age music, and believe it or not, listening to the sounds of baseball or football games. (I think this stems from a time when I’d sit at my children’s practices and work on my next story.)

Touch. I come up with the best ideas in the shower. Something about the water hitting my body, releases the etorphines.

To create a space for you, first think about how you learn and then try different things to arouse your muse.     

How have you learned to stimulate your muse?  

 

  www.autumnjordon.com

ONE MORE WORD OR MAYBE JUST ONE WORD

I realized only minutes ago (Sunday evening 10:30 p.m.) that I scheduled to blog here at RSS on Monday. In a panic, I found this blog I wrote almost ten years ago (now updated) and realized that my life has changed a lot since then but also, I’m just as busy. I’m still working outside the home—actually studying for another career too—and I’m now helping my son raise his two sons. Motherhood in your golden years is challenging, but oh so fun. And finding time to write is  still a chore. Most days it doesn’t seem like I have a minute to breathe much less craft a great story, but I’ve done it and will again and again and again.

My motto has always been; word by word, line by line and page by page, and by staying true to that frame of mind, I’ve written thirteen 80K novels in as many years.

Here are a few things I did or gave up to write;

1) I limited my social media and television viewing.

2) I wake earlier, before others in the house, and spent an hour or two in another world.

3) If I wake in the middle of night, which is often, I’ll make notes.

4) I carry pages with me and worked on the wip while waiting for scheduled appointments, sports practice, or even in the lot at grocery store before I shop.

5) Lunch break is a great time to add a paragraph or two.

6) I set goals every day.

7) I’ve made notes in church. You’d be surprise at the inspiration that enters you while in the house.

8) I write while I cook. Keep that pencil and pad with you at all times. I even have a pad of water proof paper near my shower.

9) I joined the RSS WWF in January and scheduled myself in the chat room at least five hours a week. Accepting a hostess responsibility put my butt in chair.

10) I’ve faithfully attended my writing chapter’s monthly meetings and spent a some time writing there before heading home.

11) I get out of the house, away from the chores (I can always find more to do around the house.) and go to the library to write. Some of my friends go to coffee shops.

12) I use my tape recorder function on my phone when I’m walking or sitting in traffic.

13) I’ve made my children,  and now grandchildren, responsible for their rooms and only interfered with their farm of dust bunnies when a health issue becomes apparent.

14) I’ve learned to say YES when it’s really important for me to do so. Otherwise, it’s a “I’ll do what I can, if I’m free that day.”

15) I don’t read every book to the end. If I’m not involved with the story, I move on. Time is too precious.

16) During the season, I don’t try to keep up with the Jones next door. I mow my grass every ten days instead of every Friday.

17) I make time for family and friends because they inspire me.

18) I try to schedule a new adventure every few months, because I need excitement. Guess who attended Celtic Fest last weekend and is going to Ireland in 2019? Living a mundane life, shows in the writing. JMO

19) I don’t have the cleanest car on the block, or house for that matter, but I do have a ton of friends in my head.

20) I spend time each day looking up at the sky and thanking the higher power for giving me a talent that I love!

 

I’m sure some of you can add to the list. Please do. I’m always looking for ways to find seconds to get inspiration and work.

 

Thank you, Sabrina

In this year’s Rita Awards ceremony, the audience watched clips of authors thanking fellow authors who had played an important role in their writing careers.

We’re all in this together.

When RWA called for submissions for this feature, I sent in an entry–to thank Sabrina Jeffries for all she’s meant to me. We were selected to participate, but our clip ended on the proverbial cutting room floor. Since I missed my chance to thank her at the RITAs, I’ll express my gratitude here today.

Sabrina and I write in completely different subgenres, so it might seem like we have little in common. But in our private lives, we share a strong bond. We’re both the mothers of autistic adults. Whenever we talk, the conversation inevitably turns to our kids. How are they doing? How are we managing? Autism is a spectrum of disorders, and parents of autistics have a spectrum of experiences. Yet we can always connect over the joys and challenges of being autism moms.

It’s inevitable that Sabrina and I write neuro-diverse characters into our books. My latest release has an autistic main character–and Natalie’s autism is a key part of the story.  It was Sabrina’s willingness to support me that led to my submission to We’re all in this together. 

Here is my entry to RWA:

I met Sabrina Jeffries through my local RWA chapter. She’s gracious to us all, but her generosity became personal for me last summer.

Sabrina and I were on the same flight to Orlando in July 2017 for RWA Nationals. As we shared a ride to the Dolphin Resort, we become engrossed in a conversation about something we have in common besides writing. We’re both autism moms.

Sabrina Jeffries and Julia Day

Sabrina Jeffries and Julia Day at RWA Conference – Orlando

For the entire drive, we caught up on each other’s children. Sabrina’s son—who is severely autistic—is thriving in his group home. My daughter, who has Asperger’s, was about to move to Connecticut for graduate school.

I mentioned to Sabrina that my next YA book would have a main character with Asperger’s. She offered to help, any way she could. We both laughed about that, since I write sweet YA contemporaries and she writes sexy adult historicals.

A month later, though, I contacted her. Would she read the manuscript and give me a cover quote? Her response was immediate. YES! And not only did she give me a lovely quote, she was willing to promote the book.

After Fade to Us released, there were some who questioned my “credentials” for writing it. I had been reluctant to talk openly about having a child on the autism spectrum, believing it’s my daughter’s story to tell. Sabrina was there for me again with these wise words to consider.

SJ: “Being an autism mom is part of your life, too. Can you feel comfortable sharing that your inspiration came from the experiences of your daughter and family? Can you publicly celebrate the success your daughter has had?

It was the perfect advice. With my daughter’s blessing, I’ve become more open on social media about being an autism mom.

Sabrina didn’t forget her offer to promote. She’s been amazing about getting the word out about the book on twitter, Facebook, and goodreads.

Her actions are exactly what RWA embodies for the community of romance authors. Sabrina has given generously to me through her words, encouragement, and support as I released a story so close to my heart. I can’t thank her enough.

 

Do you have an author who has helped your career? If so, join us in the comments and thank him or her.

Do you have a child or family member with differences? However you manage those struggles, please know that the writing community has your back. We are there for you, so find us in whatever way is comfortable for you! 

 

Julia Day  is an author of young adult fiction, including Fade to Us, a sweet YA contemporary with an autistic main character. She also writes YA magical realism as Elizabeth Langston. (Her book I WISH is free through August 9.)

To Be A Writer or Not?

I officially started on this publishing journey twenty years ago last month. I’ve written millions of words before, just not for the public, but at some point (It was a sunny day), I pulled on my big girl panties and walked into a writers group meeting where there were other people who talked to the characters in their heads just like I did. They were the lost family I never knew existed and I was home. Since then, while the family I was born into (well, some of the family) supported my need to create, I worked my a** off to learn as much as I could about the craft of writing and to take advice from those who succeeded in winning the public’s hearts. Just when I reached a point that big houses doors were cracking open, the industry took a one-eighty turn. E-readers were released and like any new toy the techs in my generation and the generation behind me coveted them like chocolate. New businesses were formed every day to handle the need for authors to fill these readers with their stories, ie small epubs. You know the rest of the story. You lived it.

 

The one thing I heard constantly in the early years of my training was, “Don’t quit your day job.” Authors who had large followings, like SEP, Debbie McComber, Linda Howard, Susan Brown, etc. etc. stood on conference stages and warned us this business is fickle. You are up one moment flying high among the stars and then suddenly the floor drops out and down you’ll crash.  Yes, some authors will float down gently and might even hover in the sky like a kite on a gentle breeze  (because they’ve earned the large following) but most writers will not. Let me repeat that. Most writers WILL NOT make a living from this career. Those who do make a career out of writing are doing jobs that they might not love, like tech writing or free lance articles, editing, ghost writing. This in not something new. Writing, like any art, has always been a low paying career.  So why do it?

 

I can tell you that I plan to continue to write, because creating stories I love is what I love to do. I’m going to be smart about where I spend my income (no second house or new car). While I think conferences are important to attend, I’ve got to be very choosy which ones have valve to me. Maybe an on-line class or retreat would feed my muse better. I also need to spend my advertising budget where I get the biggest bang for my buck.  A few things I will not lower my standards on is editing, copy-editing and covers.  If I need to supplement my funds in order to publish my future stories, I will. I’ve taken a part time job, because I love writing. I love myself. And I love my family.  I will not take from family funds, but I will work at a job that brings in a steady income, and I will spend a little of the money earned on my true desire.  Who knows, one day I might write a story that will be on the shelves generations from now. That book might help my grandchildren in their retirement years.

So what are your thoughts on the down-turn of the industry? And how do you plan to handle your writing career?

 

FYI: Did you know Edgar Allen Poe never made a living as a writer? He couldn’t support his family from all his works and died penniless.

 

 

 

Not A Blue Bird In Sight

A blank page sits in front of you. The sharpened point of your pencil taps against the lined paper, or that black cursor blinks at you, mocking your muse to write something readers will find entertaining. What you envision scrawled across that page and every page afterwards may be a full-length novel, a short story or just a blog post. But you’re frozen in time like a deer in the headlights of a semi-truck. Your heart pumps your blood through your veins so fast every nerve sizzles and every muscle twitches with anticipation of what will come to life in your mind and then make its way through your fingertips and on to the page.  And you know, as sure as you know the sun will set tonight that if an idea fails to spark you’ll just….

What? What will you do?

Hit your head harder against the wall?

Die?

Quit?

HA!

 

Writing is in your blood, so relax. We all have days, weeks, and sometimes even months that the page remains blank, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a seed of an idea growing inside of you.

In this age, where everyone wants more yesterday and authors are pressured to produce several books a year, stress has risen to new levels for authors and stress does what? Makes us focus on what is causing us the stress.  So, stop focusing on not having an idea and focus on your well-being. Study craft books, read, take a class, read, critique another writer’s pages, read, have a plotting party, enjoy life and people watch… You get the idea. Feed your muse. Once you’ve done that, the words will flow.

Remember, in life, it’s the journey that counts. Enjoy it!

What are some ways you’ve fed your muse?

 

 

 

An epic case drops from thin air and a ticking clock begins. Can U.S. Marshal Jolene Martinez stop the sinister creator before it’s too late and a death occurs?

A thrilling new standalone mystery from award -winning author Autumn Jordon with a totally shocking conclusion.

  LOVED BY DARKNESS RELEASES TOMORROW MAY 8TH!

PRE-ORDER TODAY!

Amazon

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I-BOOKS

KOBO 

 

 

Words of gratitude

Writing the acknowledgments to my books has always been one of my favorite things to do, because it lets me thank all of the people who help me write a story. So I’m taking an opportunity today to tell them again just how very grateful I am for the contributions they’ve made to my writing career.

To the Rubies – It would be hard to list all the ways you’ve had my back. You are wise, kind, generous, and there. Although our sisterhood is virtual, I know I can count on you to stand by me through troubles in writing, relationships, or life. Thank you, Rubies; your support has been amazing.2 guys high-fiving

To readers – We couldn’t do it without you, and not just because you buy our books. We love the fan letters, the comments on our blogs, the lovely reviews that show you “get” the book, the word-of-mouth that brings in new readers, the times you show up for our book signings. Readers rock!

To my editors – You have made me a better writer. Your comments can be wrong frustrating, but you can also–through questions and debate–transform a good manuscript into something great. Thank you, editors.

To my daughters – When you were younger, you put up with a distracted mom, takeout meals, trips to historical sites you weren’t interested in, and conversations where I (the YA author) pumped you (my then-teenaged kids) for plot points and dialog.  Despite the challenges, you have grown into awesome young women. Even though you didn’t sign up to be the child of a writer, you’ve handled it with grace and humor. There are no words.

To my husband – When I recently confessed my fears about writing in a new genre, as always, you encouraged me to press on–never once pointing out the risks, the potential for failure, or the reasons I should stick with what’s safe. Instead, you listened carefully, then said, “If it makes you happy, that’s all the success we need.” Yeah, you’re a keeper. I’m so grateful to have you on my team.

What about you? Who has helped you as a writer? Who would you like to thank? Here’s your chance to leave words of gratitude.

 

Elizabeth Langston writes YA magical realism and YA contemporary (as Julia Day).  To learn more about Elizabeth/Julia, visit her website, follow her on twitter / FB / instagram, or subscribe to her newsletter.

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