Tag Archives: Empowerment

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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Surrounding Yourself With Inspiration

Yesterday I spent time on my back porch looking out at my yard. The sight of my withering Weeping Willow saddened me. Winter is approaching and the green weepy leaves that I love so much are slowly but surely disappearing for the season. As I dwelled on the soon to be bare tree a realization occurred to me. I surround myself with the very things that inspire me to write. I won’t say I did this consciously because I really do not think I did. I have loved trees for as long as I could remember (Weeping Willows are my favorite). I can go on and on about trees and how you will probably find one in each of my stories (even if it is just a small mention) but I will get back to the point I’m trying to make. I believe that most if not all writers surround themselves with inspiration (whether conscious or not). After coming to my realization, I looked around my house (especially my writing room) and found many items that I have placed throughout my home that inspire me. Here is my list.

1. Trees- I know I already mentioned them, but I have to add them to my list.

2. Quotes- I love any type of plaque or picture that have a quote across it. A quote can inspire me in so many ways. It also can give me that push that I need when I’m having an off day. Some of the quotes that surround me are:

*Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is not path and leave a trail-Ralph Waldo Emerson (Love, Love, Love this quote).

*Home is where your story begins

*The best way to predict the future is to create it

*Even if the voices aren’t real, They have some pretty good ideas (This one makes me smile. I think it’s a great quote for writers).

*Laughter is the music of the heart

*Family, where life begins and love never ends

I stumbled upon the one pictured above(Creativity is a drug I cannot live without by Cecil B. DeMille) today and instantly fell in love with it

3. My writing diplomas. I have two diplomas from The Institute of Children’s Literature. Every time I look at the framed diplomas that hang upon my wall, I am reminded that I have taken steps to better myself and hopefully further my writing career.

4. Photographs: Pictures of family and friends can be very inspiring. If I’m writing a scene that involves friendship, all I have to do is look at a picture of a friend and instantly memories, emotions, and conversations pop up. I especially love the pictures of my father (he passed away two years ago) because I know he was my biggest fan. I can still hear him say “Finish that book Maribeth,” or “Don’t give up honey, you are a good writer.”

5. Books: I was thrilled this year when my husband came home with a beautiful bookshelf. I am inspired for many different reasons by the books that line my shelves. A glance at them can push me to keep writing because I want to see my name on the cover of a book. I also can be inspired by lines in the books that other authors wrote. Most of all they inspire me to keep writing because I know that every one of the authors were once unknown.

I’d love to hear what types of items surround you. Maybe something that inspires you will inspire me as well.

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CREATING A CHARACTER IS LIKE DRESSING A MANNEQUIN

I enjoyed going shopping with my mother when I was a young girl. I loved it not because she bought me things (although that was an added bonus) but because I loved the mannequins. At eight years old I was creating characters without realizing that was what I was doing. With the help of my imagination the giant faceless dolls became people. I gave them names, faces, personalities, people to see and places to go. The person who dressed the mannequin helped make it easy for me to envision the people I created. We as writers do the same for our readers when we develop the characters that walk the pages of our books.
When developing a new character, think of a nude mannequin waiting to be dressed. The way a person dresses can tell you a lot about their personality. The clothing you pick for your character helps the reader envision what they look like. What colors would your character wear and why? Maybe a loud boisterous character would choose colorful clothing such as a bright orange sweater, a pair of bootleg jeans and a pair of zebra print stilettos. A more demure character might choose to wear a navy blue pea coat with a grey angora cowl neck scarf, a dark grey pencil skirt and black leather knee high boots.
Is your character a teenager, a housewife, an athlete a hipster? Once you answer this question, you will find it easier to pick out their attire. The way you describe their hair will also help bring them to life. Does the girl in the pea coat have blonde silky hair that she secures tightly in a ponytail at the back of her head? Does the lively girl have short brown hair with golden highlights that frame her face? Speaking of faces, what does theirs look like? Have you ever found yourself staring at a mannequin envisioning their features based on the way they are dressed?
Once you know their style, their features usually will present themselves. Are their eyes circular in shape? Can you describe their nose? What about their smile? Is it vibrant and contagious or non-existent?
Anyone who dresses a mannequin has an idea of a person in mind. Their execution of style is what entices the buyer to purchase what they are selling.
Let’s make this a writing exercise. Imagine you have an unclothed mannequin in front of you and it’s your job to add clothing, accessories, hairstyles, facial features and personality to the lifeless figure. You want the potential buyer to be able to clearly envision the character you have created.
******** My character**********
Name –Lydia (Where do you get your names for your characters? Is there meaning behind them?) Something as simple as a name can lure readers in.

Age: 18 (Your main character’s age will generally constitute your target reading age, eg. Young Adult readers would most likely connect with a character that is within the fourteen-to nineteen age range).

Features: (It is important to include features in your descriptions, this allows the reader to feel like they have a good sense of what the character looks like) Dark wavy shoulder length hair, Hershey kiss eyes, a smile that stretches like a rubber band, a star shaped birthmark under her eye and a slender figure with the exception of her rounded derriere.

Quirks if any: ( Quirks are a way to make your character become relatable to the reader) Lydia has a terrible habit of cracking her knuckles.

Voice: (Imagine what your characters voice will sound like. Is it raspy? Is his or her speech fast?) Lydia’s come hither voice makes her a favorite with the opposite sex.

Attire: ( The clothing your character wears can help define what type of person they are) Lydia slipped on her tightly fitted rainbow decorated t-shirt and tucked her stretchy denim pants into her knee length Chuck Taylor sneakers. She liked that her style was unlike anyone else’s and often referred to her sense of flair as “punk rock and roll”. She’d rather set a trend than follow one. Once someone started to imitate her style she would change it. She hated that the girls in school began wearing fingerless elbow high gloves because that meant she could no longer wear her favorite accessory.

Hopefully, I created a character that you can now see. The next time you are shopping, take a moment to look at the mannequins. You might be surprised at how inspiring they can be.
Think of one of your favorite characters, what was something that made them memorable? What steps do you take when creating a character?

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Pass It On: Give a Fellow Author a Shout Out

Today a smile was brought to my face because of a comment from someone I had not met before. Herby, if you are reading my blog consider this a personal shout out and a big “thank you”. Herby stumbled upon my blog and was kind enough to let me know that he liked my material. Herby’s comment not only brought a smile to my face but it got me thinking about something that I have thought about before, but not as in depth as I thought about it today.
If you are a writer then I am almost positive that you have experienced moments of self doubt. Moments where you thought no one was reading what you wrote. Moments when you threw your hands up in the air and said “So be it, I’m writing anyway.” If you write a blog, I’m also pretty sure that you check your traffic on at least a weekly basis. It’s in our nature to be curious to see if whatever it is we have written prompted another to let us know what they thought. If we didn’t hope to connect on some level with others we would have never set up a blog in the first place. (We would just keep our words tucked away in a journal)
I always admire the people’s blogs who get beaucoup comments and wondered if my own would ever receive as many as theirs.
Herby’s comment today made me realize that we all have a way of helping each other become noticed, whether it be by leaving a comment, adding a blog to your blogroll, tweeting on each other’s behalf or simply telling a friend. Someone once told me that 90% of successful advertising comes from word of mouth. I’m not sure if it is quite that much but I am positive that most success stories have something to do with one person telling another then another then another. We as writers have to help each other out and if we happen to stumble upon a blog that catches our attention and then keeps it, it’s the least we can do to let a fellow author know. Why not leave me a comment right now and let me know whose blog you enjoy reading. Together we can increase their traffic.
Today my shout outs go to Elisa over at Where’s My Pencil, she included me as one of her recipients for a Versatile Blogger award (which in return brought traffic to my blog and Herby at Living as Herby for making my day and inspiring this post.

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TEN REASONS I WRITE

1. I truly believe I was born to write. I have done many things in my life and held numerous jobs (I currently love my day job) but through it all writing was always a part of what I did.

2. I love to create stories and then look back and think- Did I write that?

3. I want to see my name on a book cover. I want to see what my first book cover will look like (I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to this).

4. I love anything that has to do with words. Words to me are like numbers to a mathematician.

5. It is therapeutic to my soul. When I sit down to write, it’s like taking a mini vacation. Everything and everyone falls to the side. I could find myself on a beach, walking a desert or on the top of a mountain.

6. I’m an observer. Observing without producing is wasteful as far as I’m concerned.

7. I’d like my words to help someone else interpret life in a way they never thought they would.

8. I want my children to be able to have my words to read after I’m taken from their life.

9. It’s exciting. Any emotion I am feeling can be released through writing.

10. If I didn’t write, I wouldn’t be me.

We all have reasons to do what we do. I’m sure many of my reasons are similar to yours but I would still like to hear why you write. Do you have a reason different from the ones I listed?

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When Writing Takes a Brief Intermission

The past few weeks have been very hectic and my blog has suffered. I spent a week in the hospital with my oldest child (Thank God, she is doing well). I wrapped up my four months of training and I am now ready to become a Craps dealer (neat, I know). I have readjusted to having six kids home all day (my four plus a niece and nephew). I have had what I like to call a brief intermission. I have not written as much as I would have liked but I never stopped thinking about what I would write, which leads me to my point.
We all have interruptions in life that pull us away from our writing and into reality. It’s okay for this to happen because we come back with new experiences and more things to write about. I can now incorporate a scene if I wished about the emotional high a mother endures after seeing her precious child lying in a hospital bed. Eventually I will be able to discuss how intoxicating working in a casino could be and how summer vacations filled with children can be fun, crazy and memorable. I briefly walked away from writing but now I am coming back.
What do you when life drags you away from what you love to do?

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Successful Writing Careers and Intuition

Have you ever wondered if Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Myer, Suzanne Collins (insert whichever wildly successful author here) knew they were on the brink of something before their success erupted? Did they have a feeling that life was about to change?
These questions circulate my mind because I have an inner feeling that my writing career will eventually take off. I am not saying that I will become the next big thing(althtough I do hope to be). I am not delusional. I am not psychic. The feeling I have is not hope (however, I have plenty of that). It is not desire. It’s something else.
I have watched screenwriters, actors and producers accept awards and say something along the lines of “A year ago, I was at home watching this show never dreaming I would be on it a year later.” Their statement would cause me to think, really?
I tend to think people do have an inner knowing. In many interviews you will see the question, “Did you ever imagine you would have this success?” We all want to know if they were feeling something we were or weren’t so we can closer examine exactly what it is that we feel.
I wouldn’t dare claim to be the best writer but my gut tells me I am on the verge of new beginnings.
Have you ever thought about this or am I the only one? Is it a sixth sense?

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