Category Archives: life

Renewal Giveaway

 

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UPDATE: Congratulations Barb, your name was chosen to win the bookmark. Thank you so much for commenting. I hope you like your bookmark as much as I like mine. If you send me your address to my email maribethpgraham at comcast.net I will forward your bookmark to you.

Somewhere along my travels of the mundane days of work, I got lost. I stopped dreaming. I stopped envisioning a life other than the one necessary to survive. I stopped trying. I stopped writing.

And when I did, I lost myself. I betrayed myself. I am a lot of things to a lot of people, daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend, employee but in order to be good at any of those positions, I must first be true to myself.

I’m a writer. I’m eccentric at times. I have a weird sense of humor (and usually connect best with those who share it.) I’m a daydreamer. I’m an empathetic human who can see myself in everyone I meet. I can be an air head at times but also a force to be reckoned with. I’m silly but intense and will not apologize for my imagination. It is the gift I was given.

We all have a purpose. We all have struggles, self-doubt, moments of self-hate, but we all possess, beauty, talents and share collective thoughts. We need to inspire each other to become the best versions of ourselves. We need to help one another see the gifts within. When we start to do this, small parts of the world will change.

I may have taken breaks through my writing journey,but, I always seem to come back to the craft that makes my soul feel at home.

To celebrate my renewal of spirit and my newfound excitement to get back into what I so adore, I’m having a giveaway.

These hand-crafted book marks are made by Trades of Hope. These women have faced many struggles. They use their talents to help support their children and community.I’m in love with these bookmarks. I want to share one with you.

All you must do is comment on my blog a positive word. I’m old-school, the list of winners will be thrown in a hat and picked at random.

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Filed under BLOG, books, contests, Giveaway, Inspirational, life, Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, Writing

A to Z Challenge

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

The April A to Z Challenge starts in two days. Who is participating? I’m attempting yet again to do this challenge. I tried for the last two years to get to the letter Z but I never made it. I can’t promise this will be the year but I’m going to give it another shot. I love the A to Z challenge for numerous reasons.

1. It makes me think. I try really hard to come up with interesting topics and love to see what comes to mind.

2. It’s a great way to meet other writers. I have met some great writers through the A to Z challenge and still visit their blogs whenever I get a chance.

3. New readers find your blog.

4. It helps build discipline. (Anything that encourages you to write everyday is a good thing).

5. It’s interesting to see what others come up with.

6. It’s fun.

If you are participating in this challenge leave a comment letting me know. I will stop by your blog to see what you are writing about.

Have fun. Happy Writing!

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Filed under A to Z, life, writer's life, writers, Writing

10 THINGS NOVELIST DREAM ABOUT

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1. Seeing their name in Print

2. Signing their autograph

3. An offer from an agent

4. Selling their book

5. Their book cover

6. Making The New York Times Best Sellers List

7. Great Reviews

8. Writing full time

9. A book store filled with their books

10. Their Next Book

What did I miss?

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Filed under books, dreaming, life, novel, random, story telling, story writing, writer's life, writers

The Forgotten and Undiscovered-A Writer’s Fear

Last week I stumbled upon a few totes filled with my writings from years ago. Discovering my earlier work made me smile and delayed my cleaning (of course, I had to stop what I was doing and read through each and every piece). Most were short stories. There were a few poems (one which I entered into the SCBWI monthly writing contest. I was extremely excited when I got word I placed runner-up), a couple of assignments (back from when I took classes with the ICL), and some scribbled notes for my then incomplete but now complete middle-grade novel.
After reviewing and reflecting on my earlier writings, a realization punched me in the gut. Most of those writings will never see the outside of those totes. They have been sentenced to the world of forgotten and undiscovered.
Sure, one day when I’m wildly famous (it could happen right?) someone might steal those totes and sell the contents for a hefty sum (okay, maybe it’s more likely they will use them to start a fire) but chances are they will remain where they are.
The next day while driving, I thought about how many great pieces of works are out there that will never be read. The thought saddened me immensely. Someone right now can be writing a best seller but because of lack of time, fear, rejection or insecurity it will never become what it could be. Someone might have already wrote a timeless piece but for whatever reason it sits in a desk. If there is one thing that makes me panic, it is the possibility of leaving this world with totes filled of unpublished writings.
What’s your fear when it comes to writing?

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Filed under books, life, rejections, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Books at the Beach

When I was about eleven years old I went to Ocean City New Jersey with my family. We set our spots up and unpacked all of the beach essentials. As I was about to lay on my blanket and get some sun I noticed my aunt was reading. I recall looking around and becoming fascinated by so many people holding books. I wanted to be one of them. I begged my mother to take me to the boardwalk that night so I could select a book of my own. I wanted to read on the beach too.

My first beach read was Tigers Eye by Judy Blume. I, along with my aunt and the other beach readers stretched out a blanket, plopped down and read on the beach. I was part of a club and I couldn’t help but feel special.

Many years later, I am still part of the beach reading club. This past week as I sat with legs stretched along the sand reading my selection (Go Ask Alice), inspiration hit. There were so many people holding traditional books and kindles in front of their noses that I just had to know, what they were reading.

I started off by nonchalantly strolling past them sneaking a peak at the titles. When I couldn’t make out the titles, I had to muster up the courage to ask them what they were reading. No one seemed to think I was crazy which made me happy. Everyone I asked, was happy to tell me what they were reading.

Below is a list of the books I found being read on the beach.

  1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This book was the most popular book being read on the beach. At least three of the people I approached were reading the suspense novel. One lady advised me that she loved that the story fluctuated point of views, going from husband to wife. Prior to the beach, I was hearing a lot of buzz about this book. I think it might be one of my next reads.
  2. Velocity: Combining Lean, Six Sigma and The Theory of Constraints to Achieve Breakthrough Performance—A Business Novel
  3. Bared To You by Sylvia Day—Erotic Romance. Book reviews say that this book has an emotional feel similar to Fifty Shades of Grey.
  4. Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood Book 12) If you still are yearning for vampires this series of books might be a good beach read for you.
  5. Go Ask Alice-Anonymous–This book is a diary of a young fifteen year old girl who experiences drugs for the first time when giving a soda laced with LSD. She gets caught up in the drug scene and writes about her struggles in daily journal entries.
  6. Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry) by Simone Elkeles– Love, family secrets, gangs, this book has it all.

So, there we have it. Those are the books I spotted being read while vacationing. I know there are a few listed that I have already added to my TBR list. Did you vacation this year? What book did you bring along? Are any of these on your TBR list?

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Filed under books, Fiction, life, novel, random, reading, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Perseverance

If you really want your writing to become something then you have no choice but to persevere. When I began writing, I thought, How hard can this be? Write a few stories, submit to some major publishing houses and instantly become discovered. Ten years later, I look back at my younger self and think, Wow are you naïve. Sure, a few things happened early on that made me think no sweat, but the prize I’m searching for has not yet been found.
I am proud of the recognitions I have received along the way but I still have hopes for more. The goal at this point in my life is to land an agent and see my manuscripts in print. Currently, I have possibilities which completely excite me but if for whatever reason they get denied, I plan on persevering.

For today’s a to z challenge I have decided to list a few of my favorite perseverance quotes. Which was one is your favorite? Do you have one you would like to share?

• “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Walter Elliott

• “All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

• “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” Conrad Hilton

• “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.” [Proverbs 24:16] Bible

• “In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through what is.” Anonymous

• “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” General Dwight Eisenhower

• “Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.” Richard L. Evans

• “Perseverance is a positive, active characteristic. It is not idly, passively waiting and hoping for some good thing to happen. It gives us hope by helping us realize that the righteous suffer no failure except in giving up and no longer trying. We must never give up, regardless of temptations, frustrations, disappointments, or discouragements.” Joseph P. Wirthlin

• “Defeat is simply a signal to press onward.” Helen Keller

• You may not receive what you hope for today, but tomorrow may bring the reward you weren’t expecting. Keep writing for tomorrow because it will eventually come. Maribeth Graham (aka me)

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Filed under books, Inspirational, life, rejections, story writing, writer's life, writers, Writing

E.E. Cummings and My Father

This coming June will be four years that I have been living without my father. My father was such a wonderful man. He was everything I aspire to be. He treated all people the same. He was well respected, intelligent, wise, simple and extremely loving. During his illness, my family and I traveled to Philadelphia to support him while he underwent open heart surgery. The night before he went into surgery, I read him my favorite poem by E.E. Cummings I Carry Your Heart with Me. I will forever carry his heart. He was my biggest cheerleader when it came to writing. He was the first one to believe in me. I believe he is on the other side pulling as many strings as he can to help further my career.

I Carry Your Heart with Me by E.E. Cummings

I carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Do you have a favorite poem? Who does it remind you of?

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Filed under emotions, life, writer's life, writers, Writing

ACT IT OUT

ACT IT OUT

This blog post has been walking around my thoughts for a while. I’m glad it coincides with the first letter of the blog writing challenge from A to Z.

Have you ever got to the point in your story that is begging for an action scene? You stare stupidly at the screen in front of you. Your imagination presents to you a clear picture but the words you type out are bland. All you want to do is get your main character up the stairs (insert whatever scenario you are writing about here) quickly and down the hallway to the back bedroom where there is another hidden room that she can hide from the baseball bat carrying stranger. You feel her anxiety rush through your bones but yet you can’t convey it on paper.

There are a million action scenes that can be acted out right in the confines of your own home that will help make your scene stronger. I am forever jumping over obstacles, banging into things, pretending to shoot darts, stirring a pot just so I can experience the moment of the scene. What happens when I bump into something? Does pain shoot through my body? Do I bounce back? Do I bruise?

Please don’t think I like self mutilation because I promise I do not. But, I like to get down and dirty with my writing so I can help my readers experience the scene as if they are part of it.

If I was trying to get my character up the stairs, I’d probably find a flight and start racing up them. I’d pay attention to my movements. Do I stumble? Do I catch my fall with the palms of my hands slamming against the step above? Do I trip over clutter on the stair, causing my knee to smash into the step? Once I reach the top what happens? Do I turn back to see if the stranger is right behind? Or do I race down the hallway to the secret room only I (aka the character) knows about?

If this is not something you have done before, I suggest you give it a shot. It could be something as simple as making a pot of coffee. Act out the action and see what you come up with.

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Filed under character, constructing, Fiction, life, writer's life, writers, Writing

Freeing The Funk

I have been in a funk. It started about a month ago. I don’t talk about my day job too often because the fact of the matter is, out here in cyberspace I like to be known as simply a writer. I, like many other writers have a day job (well sort of- I work from 3:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m). What do I do? I work in a casino. I am what they call a “dual”, which means I am half dealer, half supervisor. I began as a croupier (craps dealer) and learned additional games along the way (black jack, three card poker, Spanish 21 and Let it Ride). About a month ago, I was asked by my superior to train for Baccarat. I knew it was a good opportunity and I wouldn’t be able to turn it down. (Well, I could have, but not everyone is asked so I hated the thought of saying no.) Saying yes to training meant I was saying yes to fourteen hour days. I knew it was a temporary situation and in the end I would be glad I said yes. I didn’t know that it would put an end to writing for a while. You see, I am also a mother of four. My free time had to be spent mothering. I’d wake up at 1:00 a.m. and go non-stop until 8:00 p.m. After the first week, I started to feel blue. I blamed it on lack of sleep. It occurred to me that it wasn’t the lack of sleep or the overload of obligations. It was the absence of writing that was making me feel lost in my own world. For the past ten years I have written daily (occasionally I’d skip a day or two but never a week). The part of me I enjoyed so much was gone. I started to feel like I was no longer a writer. I even convinced myself that I might have to give up on my dream of becoming a published author. I’d stumble upon writing sites such as Twitter and feel like I didn’t belong. I’d attempt to write only to fall asleep in mid sentence. I had a pity party for myself and was about to make peace with the fact that my dream had to be abandoned. I simply no longer had the time (for ten years I was a stay at home mother who waitressed part time) my choice to get a full time job meant that my dreams had to be sacrificed. I spoke these words over and over trying to convince myself that I believed them to be true. Then somewhere in the distance of my mind another voice spoke back. “Don’t be silly,” it said. Being in a funk did not mean that I no longer could write. In fact if I chose to never write again, chances are I’d never come out of the funk. Writing is my first love. It is my therapy. It is my hope for a better tomorrow. It is who I am. I am a writer. I might have other things going on but a true writer always finds their way back. Today I am freeing the funk. I am continuing to do what I love. A writer may do other things but the only thing they want to do is write. Have you found yourself in a funk? What did you do to get out of it?

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Filed under creating, emotions, life, story telling, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Inspiration Isn’t Always Pretty

If you have been watching the news you should have seen the devastation that poured through my hometown and all surrounding towns this past weekend. Yes, Northeastern Pennsylvania watched in horror as the floods swept away homes (my sister-in-law’s was one of them), flooded streets and brought people to their knees. Our bridges were closed. We had curfews. I myself sat on the only open bridge for an hour and a half trying to make it home to my family. I felt as if I was on the set of a movie. It was surreal. It was inspiring?

As I watched the news something the reporter said initially struck me as odd. She was talking about how people just couldn’t help but go out and see what was happening. “It was like viewing a car wreck,” she said. “You know you shouldn’t look but you just can’t help it”. She then went on to say a situation like this was inspiring. Inspiring? At first I felt a little offended (I know the writer in me should have immediately knew what she meant) but because everything was so close to home (Literally. The only thing that saved my street was a makeshift dike built out of dirt by a bunch of heroes) I didn’t like that she used that word. To me, inspiring meant beauty. The word itself even sounds pretty. It couldn’t relate to something horrible, or could it? Of course it can.

As I thought about her broadcast my flooded mind receded and my thoughts became clearer. I began to understand exactly what she meant. Something horrible can be inspiring. Devastation like the one my town recently endured inspired many things. It inspired communities to rally together to help save homes. It inspired newspapers to share heartbreaking stories. It inspired photographers to snap photos so we can remember and others will be able to see history. It inspired me to write this blog.

Writers don’t only write about sunny days and perfect lives. If you want to write about the human experience you have to be able to be inspired by things not so pretty. How boring would books be if there was never sorrow or obstacles to overcome?

Because we observe unhappy situations and then later write about them does not mean that we are freaks or disaster lovers, it simply means that we are interested in writing about life experiences. I am not happy that the flood happened. It saddens me that so many people I know had to suffer. I don’t find joy in writing about their pain but in a strange way I do feel inspired.

Have you ever been inspired by an unfortunate event?

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Filed under emotions, Inspirational, life, random, story telling, writers, writing, Writing