Finding Veronica

I’m not sure why I came up with the name Veronica for my muse just now but we’ll roll with it. At least until she shows up and decides if she likes it.

Yep, she’s gone AWOL. I haven’t heard from her in a while. Well, I’m not sure that’s completely accurate. The ideas Veronica and I generate are not missing. It’s more like

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Veronica and I are not on speaking terms at the moment. I’m not sure which of us is to blame for that. Or if either of us is to blame for it. Blame is an ugly word. Let’s not us that.

Veronica and I are…socially incompatible at the moment.

…that sounds just as weird. *sigh*

This is November. It’s National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. I’m supposed to be letting the words fly from my fingertips and writing fifty thousand words or more in 30 days. This is my second blog. Do Facebook posts count? Granted, there was a death in the family last month but I have had no desire to write. Not like I used to. Historically you would find me with no less than two notepads of various sizes and half a dozen pens in multiple colors. People know me for this so well they often gift me with writing paraphernalia.

At the moment, I might have a pen or two in my purse. My phone has a notepad app on it but I’m not sure I have a piece of paper on me other than a tissue. How does this even happen? I have felt distanced from my writing for a while now. For a long time, the writing was an escape for me. I don’t have as many things I need to escape now. I’m not sure how to channel the same energy into the writing now that the emotional need is different. I’ve tried really hard not to let go of the writing. When I look back at some of the things I’ve done, I really like the work I’ve done and think it would be publishable if I keep at it. But then I don’t do anything with it. I don’t write anything else. Veronica does come knocking. I get more ideas and I do write them down so I don’t lose them. But they don’t grow into anything more. It saddens me to see notes scribbled in a notebook between shopping lists waiting for me to shape them into characters and plot.

Sometimes it feels like I don’t know how to get motivated. Which is absurd when you think about it. As many blogs as I’ve written about how to get your ass in gear over everything else, I should be able to figure this one out. Yet I here I sit with Veronica looking over my shoulder wondering why I’m not working on the idea she gave me. Hopefully she won’t get too mad at me.

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This is February?

It’s supposed to get close to 80 degrees today. I’m taking my boyfriend to the park. He’s new to the area and hasn’t been there before. It’s going to be a pretty day. But really, 80 degrees in February? Enjoy the sunshine when it comes. Enjoy the rain, too.

Make the most of whatever comes your way. Being happy is not dependent on the weather. It is a choice. I realized this a long time ago. Some people are miserable no matter how good things may be in their lives. Job, home, car, family, friends, food, clothes, kids, pets, vacation. They can have all of these things and still not be happy. While there are people who may not have half that and be happy all the time.

Some people seem to enjoy complaining. They enjoy finding the negative in a situation, in other people, finding something to degrade in other people. I’ve found that it means they are usually unhappy about something with themselves. It’s not something they would ever admit, not even to themselves late at night after a lot of drinks. But I can tell when I look at them. It’s written all over them. They wear it like an old coat that smells of moth balls and mildew.

Make a choice to look for the positive in each situation. Choose to make the best decision for yourself regardless to what others think. Choose to be proactive with your own happiness. Finding happiness can be a lot closer than you think. Yes, this is February. Let’s go dance in the sunshine.

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It’s almost Yule!

Yes, Christmas is almost here. Traffic is bad. Shoppers are running over people. Kids are out of school. It’s not safe to leave the house. The most wonderful time of year, right?

This year has been rough for a lot of reasons. We have had a turbulent political scene with a hotly contested presidential election as well as many highly contested state elections. There are still several major issues in the news as well. We have also lost many well-known icons of pop culture this year, most recently Zsa Zsa Gabor who passed yesterday. But we still made it this far.

We can still celebrate the simple fact that we made it this far. We have passed the halfway point in the last month of the year! Yay! It’s less than a week until presents and turkey and ham dinners with family. We get to eat too much and watch more parades and football and sappy movies. We can slow down for a few hours and forget about work and deadlines and bills. We can be nice to each other. Maybe it should be Christmas all year long.

Sharpen your pencils…

It’s that time again. November is upon us. We are a few short days away from the beginning of another NaNoWriMo. Some of us are brimming with ideas and research, plots, characters and dialogue, just waiting for the stroke of midnight on November 1st so we can start writing. And then there are others of us who are still staring out the window trying to decide which idea we want to write about.

I’ve got my idea, and some notes and an outline. I’ve even cleaned my desk and cleaned out my laptop bag for road trips to write-in locations. I need some chocolate and I’m all set. But there’s more to check on before we write. Do you have writing buddies? They help keep you accountable and on target to reach your word count, even if they’re not writing. And plant some reminders in odd spots that you’ll come across throughout the month to remind you why you’re on this crazy journey called NaNoWriMo. Stock up on coffee and chocolate. Charge your laptop battery. Plan your backup copies of your manuscript: email it to yourself and a trusted friend, save it to a zip drive, send it to the cloud, print it out. Keep it in more than one place that you can access it more than one way. Okay, are you ready now? Let’s get ready to write…

Welcome to Fall

The weather in my native North Carolina is finally starting to feel like fall. We routinely have very warm nights in October all the way to Halloween but this year we are already getting low temperatures in the 50’s and 40’s. The leaves are turning and the mountains are even starting to get frost warnings. I love the fall.

I rearranged all of my furniture and stuff a few days ago. It had been over a year. I didn’t realize it had been so long. When we don’t change things up we get stuck in a rut. We may not realize it but we start to stagnate in our own stench. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?

Our energy, our chi, flows around us and moves with us. When we don’t let it have some room to breathe it becomes stale. It needs fresh air now and then to re-energize it. That includes our spaces and how we arrange the things around us. Yes, the way you stack the magazines on the coffee table can actually be important. Did you know that the principles of feng shui say not to store anything under your bed? It blocks energy flow at night when you are the weakest. Now, ask me how much stuff I had to relocate from under my bed after a whole year…

Turn off the news. Ignore the politics for awhile. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine and the cooler breeze. Appreciate the leaves turning red, orange, and gold. Decorate your porch with pumpkins and scarecrows and mums. Recharge your energy before winter gets here.

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Guest Blog: Karina Fabian

I’m doing my favorite thing for my birthday. I’m hosting one of my favorite people on my blog. Karina Fabian is a wonderful writer I have been honored to call a friend for several years now. She has several books available through Amazon, her site Fabianspace, and all over the internet. Seriously, Google her.

Her latest release from Full Quiver Press, Discovery, is about nuns on an exploratory mission to investigate a crashed space ship on an asteroid. I asked Karina about how science fiction and our current technology were related. It got her started on why she loves writing science fiction. Check out her response below. Then go over to her site and check out all of her work.

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Why I Love Writing Science Fiction

One of the best things about being a writer of science fiction and fantasy is that sometimes, science fiction comes true. Communicators and replicators of Star Trek are cell phones and three-D printers of today, for example, but there are scores of different technologies that were imagined or popularized by science fiction writers long before they became practical technologies.

There are three reasons for this. The first is that scientists are often science fiction writers. Isaac Asimov, who wrote Foundations, I Robot and other famous science fiction stories, was a biochemist. More recently, we have Michael Crichton and Travis Taylor, both science fiction writers with science degrees.

Second, science fiction authors, even when not scientists themselves, often study science and think about the applications. For my own stories, like Discovery, I had to study VASIMR drives and spacesuit technology. I then pushed that technology about 150 years into the future, imagining what we could do if untried research came to fruition and widespread use. Other writers (and me, in other stories) push the envelope further, taking wild theories and imagining their applications and consequences, and when no theory is available, creating one in a “What if”?

The final reason – and my favorite – is that scientists are inspired by science fiction. It’s no surprise that the communicator of the 1960s Star Trek became the flip phone of the 80s. The inventor was directly inspired by the design. Many other Star Trek technologies, even the outlandish idea of warp drive, are being studied by scientists today. In print, we can point to Jules Verne, whose story, “Five Weeks in a Balloon” inspired Sirkorski to invent the helicopter.

As technology grows, so do writers’ imaginations, and those imaginations spark further growth in science and technology. It’s a wonderful symbiotic relationship that makes me proud to be a science fiction writer.

Fanning the Flames

 

It’s been a long time since I have felt the fire to write. Oh, I’ve made notes and played with l64-bradbury-wp1the odd scene here and there. But to actually want to sit at the computer and write…it’s been a long time. Two things have helped to reignite that spark.

One is a meme I came across on Facebook. It said, “Don’t cling to your mistakes just because you spent a lot of time making them.” While the nagging doubts and crippling anxiety were nurtured when I was a child, I can’t allow myself to use them as an excuse not to do what makes me happy. Yes, my mother taught me to doubt myself, to hesitate instead of taking the chance. But life has taught me that I can take control of my destiny. I can create the future I want. As long as I don’t get in my own way. That’s where the “clinging to mistakes” comes in. It is my mistake to allow myself to wallow in self-doubt and self-pity. I have to forgive myself for getting into that habit and break out of that cycle.

The second thing is a post a friend of mine shared. The original author was posting about binge writing. He said it was not that he didn’t want to write, but the words didn’t flow for him except in bursts that hit at random times. He would spend every waking hour thinking about writing and stories and characters but he would only binge write when the Muse struck him. I understand this binge writing he talked about. It’s how I have written most of my life. I think my binge writing comes from anxiety. I have to work really hard to break through the doubts and worry to get to that free space that feeds the flame.

These two things together have helped burn off the fog for me. Why do I have to be afraid to write? Why do I have to be afraid to submit a story? Because I was never taught to have self-confidence? Because someone else instilled their anxieties into me? Why can’t I act like the strong independent woman I try to project?

I am strong. I am confident in my abilities to write a compelling story. I have the power to silence the voices that tell me I can’t do it. Those voices lie. Those voices don’t know the real me. They don’t know what I’m capable of. They only know fear and shame. I will not listen to those voices anymore. Do you hear me? I WILL NOT LISTEN TO THOSE VOICES ANYMORE!

I spent the morning going through some writing stuff I’ve been hoarding. I have no less than 12 story ideas in every stage from concept notes to a finished story needing rewrites. I’m getting all my shit in a pile. I’m going to start finishing these stories. I am going to submit them. I am going to write more stories. I will prove to myself that I am the confident woman I know I am deep inside. But I do ask you to do me a favor. If you see me falling back into that negative cesspool of doubt, remind me to hold my head up and get back to writing.

 

You can find John Ringo’s post about his writing process Here.

This is the article on High-functioning Anxiety.

Be True 2 You

How many masks do you wear? Are you one person at work? Another person at home? Someone else around your friends? Do you know who the real you is?

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a meme today about being true to your authentic self. It struck a chord with me. I’m certainly a different person at work than I am at home. The real me is still inside there but she doesn’t come out much. Why do we do that?

For me personally, I only feel like Me when I’m alone or with someone I trust a whole lot. I was Me when I was in my dorm room alone, dancing with my headphones on. I was Me sitting up until 3:00 am reading because I loved the story so much I couldn’t put it down. I’m Me when I put down the car windows and sing at the top of my lungs.

I’m the most Me when I’m passionate about what I’m doing. If I can’t show you how I feeldancingfairy about something then I either don’t like it a lot or I don’t feel comfortable showing you the real me. The problem starts when other people tell us how to act. Don’t get me wrong. There are times and places for everything and appropriate behaviors accordingly. But when you’re a child and you’re told to put down the book your reading or to stop singing and go clean your room or to go change clothes because those colors don’t match…you lose a part of who You are.

Find the parts of you that you hide from the rest of the world. Find those things you are passionate about. Share them with someone who has no clue who you are. Go play in the rain. Dance and sing. We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. Remember the things that make you happy and bring them out for the world to see. Be true to you.

REVIEW: Jacked by Kirk Dougal

I’m not sure I can write this without any spoilers but I’ll try. Okay, how to describe Jacked…awesome, well written, fast paced, edge of your seat, unrelenting… Should I keep going?

First, the technical stuff. Jacked is the launch of Per Aspera Press, a Ragnarok Publications jacked-cover1500-blurb_1024imprint. If you have read any of my other reviews, you should know I LOVE Ragnarok’s very talented authors. If Dougal’s novel is any indication, we will all love Per Aspera Press and all the SF yumminess they will bring us. Jacked is about a teenage boy with a talent for fixing technology in a world that has lost technical capabilities. He faces a lot of fears and dangers and grows up in a hurry. This is so hard without any spoilers! I want to tell you everything! Let me say that I read it through a second time and noticed some interesting correlations to Rowling’s Potter series. I missed them the first time because I was too engrossed in the story.

Now, the goodies. Dougal delivers with Jacked. I read it in one sitting. I just couldn’t stop. It’s like a roller coaster you want to ride over and over so it doesn’t end. It’s fast paced and keeps you racing through each page.  Even when you think you know what is going to happen next, you have to devour every single word. It has gangs, fights, seriously evil bad guys, chases, escapes, even some angsty teenage romance. There are surprises and they are delightful. And the ending is very exciting. I’m trying not to give too much away. It’s a very good book. You can find it on Amazon at this link. You need to read it.

Do it.

Now.

What are you waiting for?!

 

Evolution

Don’t get your panties in a wad. I’m not talking about diverging arguments on the origin of life. I’m talking about how we change as people. Maturity comes with time and experience. Note I didn’t say age. You can be in your 40’s and still act like a 12-year-old. I said maturity, all the changes you go through (hopefully) as you experience life and learn how to interact with other people.

Think back to the person you were at age 9, 15, 18. Are you the same person now? I know I’m not. I have learned so much in those years since then there is no way I could still be the same person. Experiences in life change us, whether for better or worse. If you become a famous writer, would you want new readers to know the person you are right now? Or do you want them to judge you based on memories of the kid who sat behind you in English class? If you meet someone and they talk about how a person was in high school or college, there’s a really good chance that person is nothing like they are now at 30, 35, 40 years old.

Whether we like it or not, we judge other people. Everybody does it to some degree. We learn to judge because we learn to make comparisons. As little kids we are open to everything and absorb the world like a sponge takes up Kool-aid. Then we start to compare things. Do I like the blue one or the green one? We may not understand our choices but we make those choices just the same. As we get older, we realize we love blueberries but we hate green apples. Green apples become evil. We judge them. We look down on them. But there is nothing inherently evil about green apples.

The same thing happens with people. We may not like certain behaviors so we vilify people who exhibit those behaviors. But people change. You can’t judge a 40-year-old person you have never met based on the opinion of someone who knew that person when he/she was 16. Well, you can judge that person but how is that fair to them or yourself? You limit yourself when you don’t do your own research and form your own opinion without bias.

We all have our own behaviors that others might find strange or disagree with. Does that mean our behavior is wrong? Does it mean the other person is an asshole? Why does it even have to be an issue? In order to grow as human beings, stop judging people. If you don’t want to get butthurt every time somebody disagrees with you, stop worrying about what other people think. Learn. Research. Study people and life and behaviors and the universe and everything else. Then form an intelligent opinion without bias from somebody else. That is maturity. That is evolution.