In a Rush

I have a personality flaw.  It has traveled with me if not from birth, then from childhood. It’s the drive to finish, the sense that I have to complete whatever it is I’m working on in a hurry.  Time feels to me like a huge hammer ready to swing down and stop all forward progress.  So, I rush.

While this pervades many aspects of my life, it is most apparent in creative works.  Maybe watching half-hour episodes of painting on television has propelled me into this strange idea that I can work a masterpiece in a short period of time.  Maybe it is the sense that there is not enough time to do what I need to do that has pushed me into a rush to finish works of art or writing.  In any case, I find that instead of having painted a masterpiece, I have a hundred mediocre pictures, most of which were scrapped.  Instead of having an epic, I have novellas.

I am striving to change.  It’s an ingrained personality trait and as such will take work.  My idea is to transform into a perfectionist, which is the opposing side of my personality.  I am already rebelling at the thought.  I can see it in the excuses I want to write, the reasoning for why it will take so long to accomplish, and the areas in which it should not apply.

It’s not a New Year’s resolution.  It’s a life-time resolution–one that I’m going to challenge myself with.

 

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The Extroverted Introvert

I’ve spent my life thinking that I’m an introvert.  After all, as a teenager I was a bookworm who spent bus trips staring out the window daydreaming. As a youngster I was uncomfortable with small talk and much preferred to be left alone with my thoughts. It made me see myself as shy. Was that introversion or just a difficult time of life?

We have so many labels for people.  Introvert. Extrovert. Shy. Outgoing. There are more harmful labels, the ones no one should use when thinking about themselves. For years, even up to a few weeks ago when I started really thinking about it, I thought I was an introvert. I even bought the t-shirt.  The one that says, “Introverts Unite, occasionally, in small groups and for limited periods of time.” I loved it and still do.

The problem is that once someone internalizes that label and accepts it as ‘their own’, they rarely challenge the notion that it could be wrong.

I am taking up the challenge. I am not an introvert.  After careful consideration, I may have to call myself an extrovert.

Last year I was excited to attend a writer’s convention, and I didn’t know a single person going. One of my coworkers knew that and asked me if I was nervous.  I said, “No. Because we’re all going for the same reason.  It will be easy to talk to them.” He said, “Oh, they’re your people.”  Yes. They are.

This year I started full court basketball and yoga at the local gym.  I didn’t know a person there. My husband wondered that I could walk into a strange place with people I never met and just start playing.  It got me thinking.  A label that I internalized and applied to myself is untrue.  I really am not an introvert.  Maybe I’m not an extrovert because I don’t necessarily talk to the neighbors if we both happen to be outside, but I’m not an introvert.

I can walk into a place where I don’t know people without fear whether it is a conference, court, or seminar.  I’ll never be a party girl who goes and hangs out with people for hours just to hang out with people, but that’s just one aspect of the definition.

How does this blog apply to you?  Well, I would say to challenge whatever is holding you back, whatever you ‘think’ you are.  For the ten-year old whose teacher gave him an F in English.  Guess what?  It’s just a grade, a single snapshot of one moment in your life, and you can change the picture.  In a few short years, you could be writing circles around your teacher.  It just takes practice and challenging your self-image.

I have a new series on Amazon.  Click  Elemental Rage.  Free if you’re enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

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The Sign Posted ‘No Cell Phones in the Locker Room’ —It’s NOT A SUGGESTION!

When the whole kerfuffle in Los Angeles occurred with a voyeur filming a woman changing her clothes and posting the photo online , I was outraged on the photographed woman’s behalf.  To be completely honest, I consider it a form of sexual assault or at the least harassment, and if I were on the jury, that woman would serve jail time. The woman shamed can’t ‘undo’ those nude pictures–once on the net, forever on the net.

Fast forward a few months. I’ve been working out at the local gym.  Last night  I walked into a locker room with signs posted on every wall regarding cell phone use, and there is a woman on her cell phone.

People, let me tell you something about your phone.  Maybe YOU know that you are searching the web…but none of the rest of us do.  It’s unconscionable for you to bring your video equipment and set up in the corner while the rest of us are changing.  If you saw one of those giant film cameras on someone’s shoulder, would you politely change while they stood there?  I didn’t think so.

Phones can and are hacked. The video camera can be running without your knowledge, which means your innocent Candy Crush game in the locker room suddenly isn’t so innocent anymore.

You can’t spend ten minutes without your phone?  Really??? Fine.  At least where I workout, there is a bench ten feet from the locker room.  Go sit down on THAT bench and play your video game or scroll your internet while you wait.  Go somewhere else where people aren’t changing.  There are plenty of places that are NOT the locker room.  Go there if you must check your email.

Not everyone has enough courage to point out to you that your phone has a camera and they’re not comfortable in its presence. For those of you in the locker room in that situation, it’s okay to give the offender a polite, “Excuse me?  Cell phones aren’t allowed in here because they can take photos.”

If you’re not comfortable with that, talk to the people who work for the gym.  I bet that woman in L.A. never expected another woman to film and post the picture online.  Protect yourself. Once on the internet, forever on the internet.

Do everyone a favor and put it away. Cell phones have no place in a locker room.

 

 

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THE WORST PLAYER

I play full court five-on-five basketball three times a week.  While I wouldn’t say I’m terrible compared to everybody in the general population at large, I am playing with some very good players. I am definitely in the bottom tier of this co-ed group, many of whom can dribble between their legs and hit three-pointers like they’re layups.

I did well today.  I had three steals, one that resulted in a point. (2 pointers are 1 point & 3 pointers are 2 in this group.)  That was today.

A few weeks ago, I was the worst player on the court.  I was getting scored on, stolen from, and making a mockery of basketball in general.  Let me tell you something that not many people think about.  It takes courage to be the worst player.

Most of the folks I play with are cool even when I’m not doing well, but every once in a while, there is someone who gets upset.  Why am I not better? Why don’t I get out there and stop that guy from shooting or driving? Why don’t I get the rebound?  It makes something fun well, not so much fun.  That’s when you have to really think about what you’re doing.

My goal is simple.  I want to stay healthy and lose weight, and I HATE working out.  Playing basketball is truly playing to me.  I love it.  I wake up early and excited to play. So I had to remove my ego and hurt feelings and realize that this is something I just picked back up.  I’m not going to be great out of the gate.  Also, my worth as a person has nothing to do with whether I can stop someone from scoring. So, I decided.  I’m going to go in every day with my head held high and do my best.

Like me, there are probably tens of thousands of you facing the same obstacle.  Somewhere, wherever you are, you’re the worst at ‘whatever’.  That’s okay.  Seriously.  Someone has to be the worst.  If you quit, you’ll just be passing the title on to another teammate anyway.

Also, by quitting you miss out on the opportunity for success.  Success is a surprise.  It comes at strange moments when you think you’ve nearly had it.  Today I felt successful.  Not the best.  I recognize my own limitations, but I was a productive member of the team, and I know it.  I also ran for two and a half hours and hardly even noticed I was working out. Double bonus.

If you’re on the fence.  If you really want to do the thing you’re not good even if you’re being razzed or facing obstacles, keep going.  The only difference between you and the other guy is practice.  If you quit, you’ll never know how close you were.

This is true in all areas of life.  My first book covers were terrible.  They were so amateurish, I cringe when they accidentally get shown on Goodreads or Amazon.  At the time when I released them, I was proud.  It’s all a matter of experience, which comes with practice.

It’s okay to be the worst player…just keep playing.

 

If you have Kindle Unlimited, my latest novel, Elemental Rage, is enrolled in the program. I’d love to have some borrows and reviews.  It’s about four sisters with elemental powers who are on the run.

https://www.amazon.com/Time-Kill-Elemental-Rage-Book-ebook/dp/B01IPDDLTU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469289171&sr=8-1&keywords=elemental+rage#navbar

A TIME TO KILL FINAL FINAL orange copy small

 

 

 

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Writing Conferences

Yesterday I went to a writing conference where we listened to other authors for about 10 minutes and then wrote for 45 minutes (repeated six times).  I found it almost hilarious how comfortable an entire room of people can be with silence.  One of my coworkers asked me if I was nervous to go meet with a bunch of people I didn’t know, and I realized that I wasn’t nervous at all. Mostly because I know exactly who I’m meeting.  Lovers of books and words.  Who could go wrong there?

People attend this kind of association for different reasons.  Sometimes to network with authors, agents, or editors, sometimes to learn, and sometimes to rejuvenate.  For me, this was a rejuvenation conference.  I’ve worked so much overtime in December and January at my ‘real’ job that the writing slipped.  For those who spend a portion every day writing and feel that it’s a calling, you’ll understand the toll this took on my contentment.Not that I was completely useless. I had plotted out Book 1 of the Elemental Rage Series.  (Working title…we’ll see where it goes.)

Still, I felt like a hamster running along a treadmill wheel and getting nowhere.  Enter the writing conference, and I have new energy and new excitement. To anyone who has an avid interest in the arts, whether it be writing, painting, sculpture, or quilting, I would highly recommend finding like-minded people to help you in the day-to-day (a.k.a writer’s group or artist’s group) and attending a conference or two a year to meet new people.

It was nice to jump back in and feel productive again.

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Writing Humor

I’m about to embark on another adventure.  I want to write a humorous fiction book.  Humor is hard, but not impossible.  I’ve been doing research and it’s amazing how little information there is online in a neat, concise little package.   This is what I’ve come up with so far.

  1. Exaggeration:  Extremes are funny.
  2. Surprise:  This is what makes a well-considered running gag funny. It’s like the jokes where the joke writer uses a stereotype or an expectation and then changes something at the end.
  3. The common truth that nobody sees.

There are others.  I’m still in the gathering and learning stage.  I like cunning and witty humor.  I’ll just need to research some more to get there.

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Organization

I’ve spent the last hour cleaning my home desk.  My main problem is a pile of paper scraps with random notes.  I have a scrap with the name of a book someone recommended to me, two passwords,  fonts I’ve used for covers, plot ideas, and a sticky note with a phone number.  They were in a neat little pile under my monitor, but still troublesome.

It’s strange how much difference it can make having the information I need on hand.  I’m making a notebook for all of those scraps, the tiny bits of information that have no real place but are somehow important.

Having an organized space may not seem like a big deal.  Artist types sometimes like to use the mess as an excuse. The truth is, spending an hour looking for the ‘exact’ font used on a previous cover has nothing to do with art and everything to do with organization.  (I have a white board that I often use for reminders as well.)

Some tips for keeping organized:

On the Computer:

  • Keep ‘like’ information together.  For example, I have one document dedicated to cover image credits.  If I need to credit someone, I know exactly which cover belongs to what credit link.  My books are all in one folder under series subfolders.
  • Use descriptive titles when saving. For example, since print and ebook formats are different, I will use the title of the book followed by ‘Smashwords’ or ‘Amazon’ or ‘print’.
  • Keep spreadsheets of important details such as accounting, advertising, or submissions.

General Organization

  • I have a zipper pencil holder meant to go inside notebooks that I store the yearly receipts for any business-related purchases. It hangs on the wall and is easy to access and keep track of.
  • A white board is handy for goal keeping or notes.  I have the ebook cover sizes and a to-do list on mine.
  • Use macros or templates wherever possible.  I have ‘cover’ templates for each of my pen names.

Those are a few basic ones.  One I wish I’d done earlier is to keep all computer files in a single folder and then branch out from there.  I’m moving files from one hard drive to another and it’s painful when things are scattered.

Moon Struck is currently free on Amazon…

http://www.amazon.com/Moon-Struck-Book-When-Were-ebook/dp/B004ZZGUAA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432446705&sr=8-1&keywords=moon+struck

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