A Spooky Writing Update

I went to that conference I said I was going to go to. And it was super helpful. Um, not in the way that I thought it would be though.

I had a critique workshop. And oh, boy. You know yours isn’t very good when everyone pauses before their critique and goes, “Okay, yeah… … so this one…”

critiqueaww

*Me, listening to their critiques with my hand on my chin.* Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yep. Okay. Perfect! I know exactly how to fix this.

*scoops entire manuscript off the desk and into the wastebasket underneath*

I’m kind of glad. From the beginning, I knew this had some really messy challenges. It was the first novel that I had ever formally finished and even though the premise is cool, it’s extremely difficult to pin down and write… and have it make any sense.

I spent the first day of the conference mourning the unpublishable mess I had scooped together, and then the next day of the conference pushed me in a really good direction. I realized that through all of the obsession over publishing I had completely abandoned my original dream (I couldn’t think of a less dramatic way to say it haha). That dream is to one day in my lifetime, have an entire bookcase full of my own printed-out manuscripts. I’ll always aspire to be traditionally published, but I have too many book ideas to be married to just one.

The fog lifted. The direction became clear. I NEED to start writing my next book IMMEDIATELY. That has been the obvious take away from both the conference… and also from being aggressively haunted…

haunted

Yeah, so, okay. There are muses. And then there is Lennon. I’ve already mentioned how pushy he is as a muse … it’s no joke. I COMPLETELY understand why there are THOUSANDS of books and movies (and Broadway plays even) that are all about him. Because honestly, once he picks you. You’re done. You’re writing something for him right then and there. Maybe that’s even how he continues to influence music. I mean, probably.

musician

I tried to read a book. A manuscript for my critique partner. And this imaginary Lennon-presence-thing would have none of it.

 

LENNON: Reading again, ay?

ME: Go away, John, this has nothing to do with you.

LENNON: Hmm, you’re right you know. How about this ol’ bookie that Cyn wrote about me, then?

ME: No, thanks.

LENNON: Let’s have a look…

ME: I already committed to—

LENNON: LET’S HAVE A LOOK THEN, SHALL WE!

 

So, whatever, I ended up switching mid-way through for one of the books that Cynthia Lennon wrote. (“John”) I read it in like a single day, because of this imaginary shotgun to the head. At the end of the book she mentions that John had once told Julian that if anything were to ever happen to him, he would send a white feather. So that anytime Julian saw a white feather he would know that ‘John was there and watching out for him’. Which I thought was a really nice sentiment.

OKAY UNTIL WHITE FEATHERS STARTED SPONTANEOUSLY POPPING UP ALL AROUND ME EVERY FREAKING DAY.

The first time, it was a cool anomaly. I was walking the boys to my neighbor’s house and there it was. A perfect pure white tail feather. I was ecstatic, because wow, what were the odds of finding a pure white feather the day after finishing that book? I took a picture even.

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awkward phone shadow bro

I began seeing white feathers every single day (still do btw). On the sidewalk, on my car, on the playground, even in the pool.

One time, we took the kids outside to play and I told my husband about how weird it was that I was finding these perfectly white feathers all over. He totally laughed at me. He said, “Okay, just because you have a little crush on John Lennon you think he’s trying to give you a sign or something…” I shrugged. Because, yeah, that was probably right. And I went inside the apartment to get the boys a drink of water…

My husband swears that right after our conversation, as soon as I shut the door behind myself, A WHITE FEATHER DROPPED FROM A BIRD AS IT FLEW OVERHEAD, RIGHT WHERE I HAD BEEN. And he got the heebie jeebies … and now he doesn’t make fun of me for it anymore…

But even after that, I was like, wow. Pretty funny coincidence…

Do I need to mention again how pushy this muse is?

John-being-cheeky-in-the-plane-the-beatles-41011791-497-322

This one day, I’m coming back from lunch with the boys. I get out of my car. Notice the feather. Haha, there’s my feather for the day. Cute. Still happening. I take another step. Another feather. Step. Feather. Step. Feather.

I freaking look up to see -THIS IS NOT A JOKE OR MADE UP STORY OR PRANK PULLED BY MY HUSBAND THIS IS A REAL THING THAT HAPPENED THE OTHER DAY – small white feathers were scattered on both sides of the pavement leading all the way up to my front door.

I slowly walk inside with my children. Turn the deadbolt. And call Ghostbusters.

Anyway, long story short, I started writing a book about John Lennon. So, that’s fun!

 

A Dark and Funny Graphic Novel to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

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Hey! If you haven’t noticed by now, I love to support indie authors. Especially if they have really cool books. And especially ESPECIALLY if those books are spooky and hilarious graphic novels…

I would like to turn your attention to The Plague and Dr. Caim, which is all about a medieval doctor as he attempts to treat people with the bubonic plague.

C. E. Gallas was so kind as to send me a few previews for you to check out. If you are interested in the project, I recommend supporting him in this way: https://unbound.com/books/the-plague-and-doctor-caim/

 

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I feature indie authors often and give shout outs as often as I can. If you have a book you would like featured you can contact me here or follow me on Twitter for other opportunities.

Trying to Remember: Kiki’s Delivery Service

The other day, Dan was asking me about Kiki’s Delivery Service. (You know, one of those two in the morning conversations.) And something occurred to me…

THIS MOVIE THAT I HAD WATCHED LIKE EVERY DAY AS A CHILD WAS BARELY IN MY BRAIN ANYMORE. How can that be possible? I know I’ve seen this movie more than a dozen times. So what? Fifteen little measly years can go by and erase this BEAUTIFUL CLASSIC MASTERPIECE FROM MY LIFE???

So, I had an idea. (You know, one of those two in the morning ideas.) What if I tried to explain the movie with only the vague bits and pieces that I remembered? And ALSO what if I embarrassed myself by making it a whole series on my blog?

Beautiful. Let’s do it.

kiki

KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE: A VERY SHODDY SYNOPSIS

 

Okay, so there’s this witch with a big red bow and a black cat. And she lives with her… family (???) in the woods (?????). And the family is like, Hey now, your power is flying on a broomstick so you need to go and do something with your life and… help people probably. So, I guess this child witch has come of age and ventures off to… venture, I guess.

While she’s flying around looking for a place to be a witch, she runs into another witch flying along with a white cat. She tries to talk to her, but the other witch BLATANTLY SNUBS HER. And she’s like WOW what a little B-witch. And then that witch character never appears in the story again… I’m pretty sure…

snot

Okay, then she ends up in this… French looking town? And finds a bakery and tells the old woman, “Hey, I can help you deliver your rolls by flying all around town.” And the old woman says, “Cool. You can live in my attic if you want.”

So, she… delivers bread around town… getting to know townspeople and stuff. And like helping them? Okay, maybe I’m actually thinking of Pollyanna… I don’t know. I legit am getting a headache, I am trying SO FREAKING HARD TO REMEMBER THIS.

Um, alright, so there’s a nerdy boy with a striped shirt and they become friends. And… some stuff happens… and she can’t fly for some reason… and it’s important that she fly because of… another reason. So this cute nerdy boy takes her on what I think is a bike. Lmao I don’t know why I’m imagining a blimp / bike. I think that’s wrong. But whatever, so this kid takes her on a blimp / bike and she gets it to fly. And they… deliver… the bread.

notablimp

Um, The End. I guess.

 

GOES AND READS THE REAL SYNOPSIS

 

Okay. Wow.  What? Not even close.

Why do I not remember this? IT’S SUPER CUTE. Where can I buy this movie??

Life Update: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

THE GOOD:

So last time I gave you a full-ish update, I mentioned that Dan had gotten a part-time job and we were still looking. Yo, Pharmacy is not a joke right now. Anyone thinking about going into it should know that getting a job is REALLY DIFFICULT. And not just for an unfinished resident. I mean, IN GENERAL, it’s incredibly competitive.

But something kind of amazing has been happening to us lately…

The job that Dan landed is a PRN job which if you are not familiar with the medical field it basically means “as needed” or like “a substitute pharmacist pretty much”. He was told that it would probably only be one weekend a month. Like ten hours or something like that. So yeah. It was a PANIC. Ten hours a month ain’t a real job. So we were up to our necks trying to find something else.

BUT THEN. Once Dan got all trained up, he started getting a lot of shifts… and then a second site hired him… and then they started giving him remote shifts. Now all of the sudden he’s working full-time.

I kept watching our Google calendar fill up month by month before finally, I realized… this is the job. Dan loves it. It’s the EXACT company that he wanted to work for. And he gets to spend a TON of time with the family. Like… this is it, dude. Why mess with such a good thing?

There are other little details that need to be ironed out since PRN isn’t a traditional job, but I think we can make it work and I finally feel… settled. I spent the last however many months feeling on edge and overly anxious about “THE JOB” when… it was there all along. He had it within the first six weeks.

THE BAD

I always have to mention the writing so here it is.

I re-read my last “Life Update” from May and it made me freaking whimper. EVERYTHING IS STILL THE EXACT SAME. LIKE NOTHING HAS CHANGED ALL SUMMER. Isn’t that dumb!? I work on stuff every day with like so little to show for it. And I know, emotionally, I’ve had a lot on my plate… like honestly a bowling ball on my paper plate. But still! It really sucks. Because through all the hard days the ambition has not gone away. In fact, I would say that the ambition has only gotten bigger and meaner. Like a fat, feral, untamed ambition eating me from the inside out. And all I do now is sulk around the house complaining that I don’t have ten more novels finished since May.

I just want something to happen. Anything. A big gust of wind in my sails. I need to feel like I’m moving forward.

THE UGLY

It’s been a very difficult time for me personally.

Someone very close to me has been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. I don’t want to say who it is, to respect their privacy, but just know that it is a relationship that is absolutely irreplaceable. Every day I have to wake up and imagine what my life would be like without that person. And I don’t know what’s going to happen.

If you are the praying sort… or you vibe with vibes… or you’re a really cynical person but you’re good at sending funny memes… just keep me in mind, I guess.

Other than that kids are doing great! They are so sweet. Getting bigger every day! Life overall has been good… which is weird because it’s been the absolute worst year of my life.

Also in retrospect, I should have started with the worst thing and ended with the best thing. Welp. That’s what I get for trying to do some cutsie title. SORRY. Tune in for, hopefully, some cheerier updates down the road.

20 Indie Books You Should Be Checking Out Today

Nothing but a shout out to some hard-working and talented indie authors.


Castaway Unending: Devil’s Trifecta

Ten researchers from Miami explore the Bermuda Triangle in hopes to find the cause of its supernatural phenomena. That cause doesn’t want to be discovered, however, and will make the crew of college professors and students pay for their meddling.

Trifecta

READ HERE: https://t.co/KPQVxObFNB?amp=1


 

Naylin: Dragons of Light

Naylin follows a young girl being thrown into a Coming of Age ceremony with 2 men fighting over her. Then, dragons and shenanigans ensue, culminating in a tale full of romance, comedy, and self-discovery.


Shadowless

What if the gods themselves wanted you dead?


Fated to Meet You

Tired of her boring life, one day she is magically transferred to the past. There she chooses to replace a dead princess, determined to live in that time. But there was only one reason for her time-travel; she had to break a curse that haunted the royal family for many generations. Will she be able to save her loved one and survive fate’s game?


Under a Fallen Sun

Paige’s quest to find her missing brother Todd turns into a battle for survival in an isolated Texas town. An enemy they never knew existed has come to Earth.


Among Us

Read along as we travel to Christy, Tennessee where God called together a group of friends to stop an alien invasion in this Christian science fiction novel by R. E. Henderson, where we see just how aliens are…Among Us.


Hunky Dory

Tristan Starbuck is not a man you are likely to have heard of (unless your interests are very obscure), nor is he a man who by most metrics would be considered good or important. But he is my brother, and I believe him to be the best and most extraordinary person I ever came across. I have decided to tell his story – as difficult as it may be to put much of it into words – because after all, I believe that it is emblematic, of something.


The Battle Ground Series

Sixteen-year-old Bex Ellman has been drafted into an army she doesn’t support and a cause she doesn’t believe in. Her plan is to keep her head down, and keep herself and her friends safe – until she witnesses an atrocity she can’t ignore, and a government conspiracy that threatens lives all over the UK. With her loyalties challenged, Bex must decide who to fight for – and who to leave behind.

(Psst! You can also test drive a FREE novella in this series https://tallerbooks.com/freebook/)


His Name Was Zach

A dystopian thriller featuring Zach and teen daughter Abby. Chased from their home into the Wild, they must search for a new safe place. Will they make it, or will they fall to the surrounding madness?


Forever and One Day

After the death of her grandmother, Savannah’s perfect life falls apart. Seeking redemption from her inner demons, Savannah discovers the path to well-being isn’t a straight line.

One day

BUY HERE: https://www.balboapress.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/791669-forever-and-one-day


Saturnius Mons: Ruins of Empire

A lost civilization on Titan. A Global Corporation trying to destroy it. And a religious war brewing that could destroy all life of the moon.

Viekko Spade picked the wrong week to stop doing Triple-T


Dark

Hayden Crowe fronts an all-girls band down in Austin, Texas. Between tending bar so her sister can stay in school and dealing with the fallout after their addict father skipped town, she hasn’t exactly had time to join the social media freak out over the recent outing of vampires and werewolves.

Her world comes crashing down the night she’s attacked in an alley after a gig and bitten by a feral werewolf. Unable to return home for fear of hurting her sister, and with a message scrawled across her arm warning HOSPITALS NOT SAFE, Hayden is left with just one option…

Him.


The Can-Do Karate Kid

A karate kid realizes that laziness and procrastination are ruining his life and he must figure out how to fight them.

karate

BUY HERE: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1733918809/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0


The Red Dirt Hymnbook

Maybe running off with the traveling preacher wasn’t Ruby’s best idea. But she can’t call home because in 1979 the closest thing to a cell phone is a CB radio.


The Adventures of Edward Brett

5500 years old. Forged in fire. He’s the god you’ve forgotten, stopping the monsters that haven’t forgotten you

It’s spooky, kooky, supernatural fun.


The Pretender

When Sophia crosses paths with Princess Isabella their lives intertwine in an unforgettable way. Switching places for one week, they both happily live their dreams until disaster strikes. Can they reverse the devastating consequences of their actions?


Conquest: DarkForce

Ordered to undergo a dangerous mind-wipe procedure, Lily avoids arrest and becomes a rogue agent. In her journey to uncover the truth, she teleports to an alien planet where she faces a terrifying threat unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before.


Twisted

The great evil is attacking, and the king has asked a young hero to make a name for himself… But is the great evil what it seems?


Artistic Love in the Psych Ward

Rain is an artist who likes to paint, draw and write what God speaks to her on a daily basis. She is in community college majoring in art studies. She is trying to cope with the loss of her maternal grandparents when she also experiences a sexual assault. After these two traumatic life occurrences, she decides to commit herself into a psychiatric ward. In the ward, she meets a guy named Chase. Chase is a goth who also expresses himself through art. He is dealing with some issues of his own. But when he meets Rain, he reluctantly befriends her. She challenges his own thinking on being able to forgive as she is also working to forgive. Can they both heal from what has happened to them? Can the artistic bond they both share aid in the healing process? Can forgiveness truly cover the hurts and mistakes of the past?


Cursed Plantation

A haunting, supernaturally twisted tale of privilege, stolen innocence and dark, fierce and otherworldly revenge!

GUEST POST: “You Are Worth the Quiet Moment” by Morgan Flores

“You are worth the quiet moment. You are worth the deeper breath. You are worth the time it takes to slow down, be still, and rest.” 

Self-care has recently become such a popular topic and I’ve recently embraced it full force these past couple years. We are asked, in a spiritual point of view, to love our neighbors, to love our parents. But, do we love ourselves? Do we love ourselves as passionately as we love those around us?

I’ve watched close loved ones literally love their loved ones to death. They give and give till they are empty themselves with nothing left to give anymore. Their other loved ones who need it the most have been put to the wayside. They are an empty shell and have lost their true purpose and spark who made them who they once were in the first place. 

One of my favorite analogies is the oxygen mask on the airplane. When an airplane experiences distress in an emergency, oxygen masks pop out from the ceiling to assist breathing. We are instructed to place the mask over ourselves before helping our loved ones. In life, if we can’t take care of ourselves first, we will not be able to help the people next to us. 

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you.” 

If we do not take the time to fill our cups, we will have nothing to pour out. 

One of the main things people struggle with giving so much, is that there are no boundaries set with the people around them. They want to help so much that they forget that they need help too. Here are ways to set boundaries in your own life:

  1. Name your limits—You can’t set boundaries if you don’t know what you stand for. What do you tolerate and accept? What makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? That will help list your limits. 
  2. Tune into your feelings—There are two feelings that come from letting go of boundaries (discomfort and resentment). When someone makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue that they’re violating a boundary. When someone is imposing their expectations on us, we will feel guilty and resentment sets in.
  3. Be direct—Be direct with how you want to be treated, what makes you tic, and what you won’t stand for. You’ll know the toxic relationship by who takes these things personally.
  4. Give yourself permission—Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; it’s a sign of self-respect.
  5. Make self-care a priority—put yourself first for a change. It’s recognizing the importance of your feelings and wellbeing. 

Putting yourself first gives you the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there for them. When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend. 

“You owe yourself the love that you freely give to other people.” 

In my second book, The Love We Found, my main character wants to help someone with a life-threatening illness, only to get herself in trouble too. This concept is called “Save the Savior”.  If we put ourselves in danger by helping someone, we are no use to anyone. We actually cause more damage in the process. 

I whole heartedly agree with helping and loving others. But sometimes we get so caught up in other people’s needs, that we forget our own. Why do we get caught up in other’s needs? Because of guilt and shame? Grief? Sincere selflessness? To impress? When will you put your needs first? Do you know how to put your needs first? 

Everyone deserves self-care, self-respect and self-reliance. You owe yourself that. You are a person with passions, dreams, hobbies, personality, diversity, quirks and gifts. You deserve to harness and spend time crafting those things just as much as you push your loved ones to do. 

The term self-care has been around for centuries. But it’s just come to terms with younger generations for whatever reason. Self-care can look different for different people. Self-care is defined: the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

I have anxiety. I’ve always had it. I think it stemmed from my parent’s divorce from an early age. I never did anything about it till my second daughter came along. With the help of medication, my anxiety doesn’t control me anymore, even though I still struggle. And the help of self-care has even put me at lower dosage of meds. How does one practice self-care? 

Here are some things that I do:

  1. Workout for 30 minutes every day
  2. Less screen time (television and phone)
  3. Taking a long, hot shower 
  4. Going on dates with my husband
  5. Going to bed at the same time every night (10pm) 
  6. Reading 
  7. Eating well (and indulging too)
  8. Drinking plenty of water

With these things, I’ve noticed that I’m happier, I’m living more in the moment, I am invested in my children and husband, I am overall a better person not being acted upon. 

Again, self-care is different for everyone. What works for me might not work for you. It also doesn’t have to be doing something. Lying in bed and meditating in the quiet will be enough! 

And I also want to point out that SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH. It’s important. It’s integral.  

I can’t help but to believe that we were put here on this earth to just be idle. We should be giving our loved ones and ourselves the best version we can be. Don’t get so lost in others that you lose yourself. Everyone deserves to be taken care of—including YOU! 

“It’s important to do what’s best for you, whether people approve of it or not. This is your life. You know what’s good for you and remember, self-love takes strength.” 

 

mo

 

Morgan Flores is the author of young adult books including The Love We Lost and upcoming release sequel, The Love We Found. You can follow her on Instagram @morganized_living for all updates on minimalism, self-care, organization and book updates!

 

 

What My Day Looks Like with Two Little Kids

Okay, so a year and a half ago, I made a schedule of what it was like to have one kid. Well, here’s my schedule of what it is like with TWO KIDS. When I was pregnant with my second, I looked and looked and looked for this kind of post… I could never find it. So I MADE ONE MYSELF YOU’RE WELCOME.

*I will note that there is no schedule with the second for the first few months. And then they dip down to three naps a day and it all comes back to you. By the time it’s two naps a day. NO PROBLEM.

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8:00 (ish) Wake up, breakfast, get everyone dressed

Honestly, it’s such a mystery when my day is going to start lately. My baby is very consistently like 8-8:30, but for whatever reason these past few weeks my Toddler has been like 7-9. I wake up, I give the baby a bottle. Jack has a waffle, cereal and strawberry milk, (which he wants every day). I have to change everybody, sit the toddler on the potty. Eat breakfast and get ready myself, which is probably the biggest challenge. Showering has to be quick and I’m usually getting out soaking wet to move the baby back to his toys.

9:00 The daily chores

Every day I make the bed and do dishes. And then I have one chore assigned for that day of the week, like laundry or bathrooms. Sometimes I get them done before the baby’s nap. Most of the time I don’t.

10:30 or 11:00 Casey’s Nap

I put the baby down and then play with Jack, but I let him pick what he wants to do.

12:00 or 12:30 Lunch

I wake the baby up. Which always feels mean but worth it to get a mutual nap from the kids later. We have lunch together and if my husband is home we’ll go out somewhere fun.

mccarthyme

1:00 “Recess”

I call this time Recess in my mind. Pfft. That’s probably dumb. But mostly it’s just where I let the kids play rough and tumble for the last little bit before they sleep. During the blistering Arizona summer, I pull out the plastic slide and try to make a fun play place inside.

2:00 Both kids Nap

This eclipse is everything but it’s so hard to navigate. Jack first and then Casey. If I’m lucky I can get about an hour to myself. I *try* to reserve this time for writing, but honestly a lot of the time I’m so tired I end up sleeping!

4:00 Variable. Usually screen time

Whenever the kids wake up I try to keep it chill. I don’t have a set time for this, but every single day I try to have a reading time where I just read the kids books for a while. Right now, Jack is loving “Pajama Time”

pjtime

5:00 Dinner

I learned the hard way that dinner has to be as early as possible or the kids get GROUCHY. I’ve started meal prepping and it’s honestly SAVED MY BUTT. I can feed the kids when I need to and there is still a meal for Daniel when he gets home, I don’t have to worry about staving off the kids until later.

6:30 Some kind of adventure

Okay, so… here I just try to do something fun. Swimming is a good option right now in the heat and I prefer sunset swims because 1) Not as hot 2) Shade. Don’t have to sunscreen the kids! 3) For some reason, we get the pool to ourselves at that time and 4) THE SKY IS SO PRETTY!

If we don’t feel like swimming, we go to the play place at the mall. In the cooler months, we’ll go to the park or something.

8:00 Getting ready for bed

Bath. PJS. Brush Teeth. Prayer. Bottle. Blankies. Bed.

8:30 Both kids go to bed

I’ll probably have to put the toddler back like 600 more times. But then Daddy and Mommy get to hang out! And be so exhausted to do anything other than zone out in front of the TV…

bedtime

5 Reasons I’m Attending an Online Writer’s Conference

Guess who has two sore thumbs from drafting and is attending a writer’s conference?

 

Writer’s Clearinghouse is having their conference completely online. And oh man, I am here for it. Here are my top five reasons why:

#1 It’s a good ice breaker since I’ve never been to a conference before

If you are an itty bitty baby writer like me, everything seems very prestigious and scary. I don’t know why I haven’t tried to attend a conference yet. Maybe it’s the imposter syndrome or the crippling insecurity… (yeah, probably that).

Or going outside in general, honestly. I didn’t even know that was a thing that other writers did. What is a sun? You mean there’s a whole world on the other side of my laptop screen?

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#2 I can attend in my own comfy house

The idea of attending a Q&A with agents and editors while wearing secret pajama bottoms under a desk is exhilarating at best. Not to mention, being a mother of small children makes leaving my house MISSION FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE.

Recently, we moved the baby into his own room and had to get creative with our office space…

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Yes. That is actually a closet. I will be attending a writing conference in the comfort of my own closet.

#3 The networking is more personable

The faculty to attendee ratio is 6:1.

Granted, at a larger conference, you would have MORE industry professionals in attendance. But having a lot of time for personal feedback is pretty dang desirable. And you really get to know the faculty you’re working with.

Authors so often feel intimidated by literary agents that they forget that they’re “shopping” too. You want someone who is going to be the best fit for your book as well as your work style. For example, I’m interested in partnering with more of an editorial agent. That makes these workshops invaluable for me because I can get more of an idea of what and WHO I’m looking for.

And if you want to talk tactical efforts, I don’t think it would hurt to leave a lasting impression on only one agent. The publishing world is so tight-knit that it would only help you to be memorable. (Favorably, of course.)

#4 A free partial evaluation from Writer’s Clearinghouse is included

WCH

Yo. Not a sponsor. But I just really dig on this company, y’all. I’ve been in and out of the query trenches for a year now. AND THEM SLUSH PILE BLUES ARE NO JOKE. I’ve seen quite a few automated rejections in my day.

Writer’s Clearinghouse is an evaluation service done by former editors and agents. It’s designed to let you know how ‘publishable’ your book is. They score your manuscript in twenty different categories picking out your strengths and things that could be improved. (I’m both annoyingly pragmatic and an art educator, so the sight of a rubrics system fills me with such a giddy glee. TAKE THAT SUBJECTIVITY!)

The most delectable part of Writer’s Clearinghouse is that if your manuscript scores high, they will notify compatible agents about it. UM YES PLEASE!

If you are interested in that sort of thing, click HERE for more information.

And finally,

#5 I’m trying to make real, tangible investments into a dream

I have a hard time spending money on myself, so it took a while for me to bring myself to register. I mean, really. How dare I spend this much selfish money on myself, when I could have used it to buy 30 kids meals for my toddler? (…I only understand currency if I convert it into chicken nuggets.)

It was my husband who finally said, “We’re spending this money and we’re investing in YOU.”  And that sure is a true thing. My dream is worth it. It’s not stupid, it’s not irresponsible and it’s not impossible either. Especially if you take actual real steps toward it, instead of just saying you’re going to do it someday.

So, go and do the thing.

… And if the thing for you is this online conference, mention me. Maybe we’ll be in the same critique group together and you can cringe over my first ten pages. It will be so fun!

The FACE

Okay. I’m pretty embarrassed to share this piece of information with you… because it’s going to ‘out’ basically every guy I’ve ever been attracted to.

So, sometime during my mid-twenties, like already married and everything, I was talking to a best friend of mine about past dating life, celebrity crushes and that sort of girl gab… And I told her that I have a really, really specific type that I like physically…

 

REENACTMENT TIME. Two friends having a shallow conversation over a tray of chicken nuggets.

Me: So, every single celebrity and guy I’ve been attracted to has the same face. The Same. Exact. Face.

Her: Haha. Okay, like what?

Me: Brown eyes. Most importantly.

Her: Most importantly?

Me: As big as humanly possible. Freakishly big brown puppy dog eyes.

Her: Is that it? They all have big, brown eyes?

Me: Well… And I like brunettes.

Her: Sure. A natural with the brown eyes. Short hair or long?

Me: You know that sixties hair where it’s like swooped over but still with decent side-burns?

Her: Ooh yeah.

Me: I like cheekbones. Like when their cheeks ball up when they smile.

Her: Oh yeah, that’s cute.

Me: Just a lot of face. An overwhelming amount of face. Like the chunkier the dude the better.

Her: Uh…

Me: And like, I know I should probably be trying to breed out my big nose, but I love long noses. A real man’s nose.

Her: You… you know you just perfectly described… feature by feature… Woody from Toy Story, right?

Me: …

Her: …

Me:

jcena

!!!

 

No, this is not a joke. And no, this is not an exaggeration either. I have no idea why I didn’t put it together sooner. Honest to goodness, not lying or making this up… three of my past love interests have even told me DIRECTLY that other people say they look like Woody (my husband included).

And okay, this best friend I was talking to reassured me that every girl had “A Face”. And she showed me hers. Hers was normal. Hers was like a Ben Affleck looking face. MINE IS A CARTOON TOY OKAY? HOW IS THAT A NORMAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE?

And like the creepiest part of it… is that I have always loved Woody. A little too much. Like once I got a Woody doll as a Christmas present and I actually cried over it. I do not know why I’m so attached to him as a character. I think maybe… loyalty? He’s super loyal throughout the series? (I’ve heard #4 is questionable here. I haven’t seen it yet) But, Toy Story One came out when I was five… which is a pretty impressionable age, right?

lmao

Another theory here. It’s not actually Woody. It’s Daniel. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that I was actively and purposefully seeking Dan’s exact face. Not to mention really specific personality traits that my husband has perfectly. It’s… very odd. I don’t know that I believe in soul mates, but it honestly almost feels like I remembered what Daniel looked like and I was trying to find him.

Either that or I’m really hot for Toy Story. Whatever.

GUEST POST: “Just Start” Annie Cowden

 

JUST START PLEASE!

Hey, you creative geniuses!! You have so many ideas just swirling through your head constantly. So, I bet you can relate to some of these phrases you have when it comes to thinking about making that vision come to life.

Does this sound familiar?

• Once I am more clear, THEN I will start!
• I’m just waiting until I have a little more clarity
• I don’t know what I want yet, so I’m just waiting
• I’m trying to figure out what it is EXACTLY I’m meant to do before I do anything

HOMIES!! I got to tell you something. And that is, this type of thinking can become habitual thinking and it is a straight up trap. As long as you keep thinking that way….no big surprise here — you’re going to keep thinking that way. Waiting leads to more waiting, period. If you wait to decide on one thing, you’ll wait to decide the next thing. And then you will comfort yourself by saying ah I’ll wait till the next go around. I’ll wait till things aren’t so crazy in my life. I’ll wait until ____________________.

There is one small (large) problem with that.

The TRUTH is, is there are not very many guarantees. So you’re betting on something that you don’t know and you can’t know is going to happen. Think about it: Are you waiting to start writing until you have the dream writing office with natural light and a fountain and no kids screaming in the background. Or maybe you’re waiting until you have more free time. (that seems kind of vague to me no offense, but I hear that one all the time).

TODAY IS ALWAYS THE DAY. Today is the day to do something towards getting your creative project off the ground. Because here is the punchline:

“Clarity doesn’t come before action, action comes before clarity”

Now hold up- I understand how this could be confusing when there is so much advice on being specific about your audience, your message, your mission statement, who you are, what you do, etc. But YOU GUYS stop taking labels so seriously. There are not rules in life. You can change your bio and your title whenever you want. You can change it twice a day if you want! You can self designate yourself whatever you want, at any time, without having to ask a soul.

 

Here’s Why You Have to Take Action Before Clarity:

 

When I say take action, I mean- what logistically and literally has to happen in order to make this happen. Who has to be contacted? What do you have to create? What physical things do you need ready?

Now ask yourself, “what is the quickest way to get this done”. Because there’s a whole lot of mojo that goes into getting a book published, recording a song, starting a business, etc. But many people start with the fluff instead of start with the juicy stuff. It’s like you’re spending all your time on the whipped cream and keep procrastinating making the pie which is what you really love doing and what you do best.

So, before I get a song recorded, I have procrastinated because of a gazillion of reasons, but I can sum them up like this:

• The song isn’t good enough yet
• I don’t know anyone who will record the guitar part for me
• I can’t afford it
• I’m waiting until I can find backup singers

Just some typical fluff. Which I know you can see similarities amongst any craft. Here’s the truth though-all of these “excuses” or “obstacles” are either A) Not true or B) can be overcome by taking action on that specific task.

So if the true, ONLY THING STOPPING me is “I can’t afford it”, if that is really honestly and sincerely the truth, then my only focus from that point on becomes getting creative to get the money. My new task at hand is to earn the money. If you will truly do anything for your craft, then these excuses don’t matter. I immediately dig into my skill sets and think what I can offer, sell clothes, reach out to people who need a dog walker or a babysitter, have a yard sale, skip out on a cost I normally buy (sacrifice something else). Because believe me, it’s possible if you want it.
Similarily if my excuse is “I don’t have backup singers yet” or “I don’t know anyone who can play a guitar” then I just need to stop whining about it and say: Okay, well what would an established professional who was looking for a musician do? Journal out all the possible solutions to your problems, and one of them will land home with you. Try one of them or try all of them.

You Are Allowed to Change Your Mind

 

Changing your mind does not mean giving up. I always want you to be honest with yourself. If you truly deeply desired to run a 10K but after 2 weeks had a few bad days and gave up, that’s not the same thing as changing your mind. But if you showed up your best self, made a promise to yourself to follow a training schedule, gave it enough time to give yourself the chance to form a new habit, then you will be opened up and exposed to more avenues of things you love more.

Maybe you stick to the training plan, and because of that you see a class at the gym which ends up bringing you WAY MORE JOY than running. If you wind up choosing the class over training, it isn’t necessarily giving up. However, it’s all about your initial intention anyway. You have to be honest about why you wanted to do the race.
-why you wanted to write the book
-why you wanted to start the non-profit
-why you wanted to be a teacher
-why you wanted to be in the show

Knowing your why will keep you going. So don’t skip taking the time to know your why!

The reason why action brings clarity, is because you are likely doing something you have never done before. So how in the world are you supposed to know exactly what to say, do, wear, when you have not done something before?!?? Sometimes I have ideas for camps/workshops for various musical theatre camps and voice lesson programs, but I avoid going to edit and finalize the flyer because “I don’t know for sure what I am offering”.

Guess what: as long as my flyer stays as a draft on my laptop, then I’m not sharing my musical passion with anyone, nobody’s kids are getting my joy and energizing classes, I’m not getting any money from my gifts, ALL BECAUSE I AM WAITING TO COME UP WITH THE PERFECT IDEA.

So to sum this up, in my case taking action can be WORKING ON THE FLYER. Maybe my very first day I don’t have to print it and hang it up, but every day I work on the flyer, the idea change a little bit. The time length of the workshop changes, the price changes, the concept changes, and the more I work on it, the closer and closer it gets to feeling like home. But I know well enough that there is no such thing as perfect, so once it hits a place that feels good and exciting in my body, I then have to take the action to print out the flyers and hang them up. And no, I don’t know all the logistics, but I will know as I go along.

To writers: When you are writing, you are not writing in permanent marker on something that is going to be hung in a museum with your name on it. You literally can change it, always. But NEVER save a good idea for later. That is the worst thing a creative can do. Because then you are essentially believing you won’t get any better ideas. Do you know how many amazing chord progressions that have come to me that I didn’t make a song with because I was waiting until I was a “better songwriter” to use them? That sounds so silly now!

The next time you feel that dark cloud come over you when you are about to begin a project, say this affirmation:

I have unlimited permission to change this as many times as I want.

We are so weird as humans. We always need permission don’t we? Sometimes just acknowledging that whatever you create isn’t permanent, is so liberating.

ALSO.

It’s very liberating to understand that, so long as you aren’t breaking laws…you really can’t screw up your path that much. We spend a lot of mental energy making decisions because we want to be “right”. Here’s a secret…one decision you make isn’t really going to alter your destiny. If you want to try doing slam poetry, well you might as well try it because we only got like 99 years on this earth so just keep doing you. When in doubt, just bring it back to the now, and ask what excites you most? ALWAYS follow the joy. Always follow the fun.

I am going to leave you with one book recommendation and one song recommendation!

Book: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
Song: Follow the Compass of Your Heart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY5JTxFt2pM

 

Annie

 

ANNIE COWDEN is a singer, songwriter and motivational speaker. When she’s not traveling the world, she works with teens and young adults who feel deeply inspired to create amazing things in their life. She is a self-discovery leader, adventure-seeking heart follower, and music is her first language. If you would like to learn more about her coaching, please follow her wonderful page on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/AnniesVizion/