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Monday, February 27, 2012

An Uncontainable Idea

While watching the Academy Awards yesterday, a HUGE idea hit me.  It lingered on my mind the rest of the evening and into the night, occupying my mind so relentlessly that I had to get up out of bed at 1am just so I could do some quick research on the Internet to see if it was even possible.  As it turns out, it is 100% completely and totally possible, and I actually have the hardest part over.

I'm not quite ready to reveal the idea yet, but I know I have to jump on it because the timing is perfect.  There's quite a bit to figure out about it, and I know that even though I have what most consider to be the hardest part already completed, this is not going to be easy.  In fact, if I decide to attempt this, it will probably be the most challenging thing I've ever done.

The discouraging part is the money it's going to take- this idea must be completed by September (just 7 months away!) if it is to go where I want it to go, and I'm thinking it'll probably cost about $5,000-$10,000 to do.  I refuse to do it if I can't get it done well, but I know that this project can and will change lives.  I don't mean that to sound cocky, but I know it's true because it already HAS changed lives.  This is so much more than I am, and I know that I won't be able to do it alone- I'll have to enlist the talents of people far more skilled than I am, because I want this project to not only be a product of me, but a product of humanity.

I don't have much time at all, so I need to decide quickly if this is something I want to take on or not.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Learning patience.... part 2

My last post I talked about having patience with others (namely, grandparents), but in this one I'm going to talk about having patience with that one person few people ever seem to have patience for: yourself.

When I was in dance class yesterday, there were a bunch of girls that were doing these incredible movies and tricks that I would've fallen on my face if I tried to attempt.  I was trying, but I just couldn't get them close to what they were supposed to look like, and the few I was able to do did not look nearly as graceful as I would've hoped.  I was getting so mad at myself for not being able to do these tricks that I almost wanted to give up... almost, but I didn't.

This doesn't just account for dancing- I'm not very patient with myself in most other areas of life.  I get upset at myself for not being a best-selling author yet, for not having astounding acting credits on my resume, and for not being in the shape I want to be in.

I asked some of the girls how long it took them to do certain tricks and moves.  Most said it took them about 4 months to get to where they felt they could do them correctly, and about 6 months before they could do them correctly and look graceful doing them.  I'm two weeks in, there's no way I'm going to be the same level as them right off the bat.

Gaining and strengthening any ability takes time and nurturing.  With my writing, I've noticed I'm improving drastically as time goes on, and that's because I do it EVERY DAY (with very few exceptions).  Becoming a pro at something takes time and practice; LOTS of practice- if you want to be able to do something well, you need to practice, practice, practice a little more, practice again, do a bit of practicing, and then practice some more.  When you think you're able to do it well, practice again!

Whatever it is, it won't be perfect the first time you do it.  Whether it's dancing, writing, acting, or scrapbooking in a zero-gravity atmosphere while making a loaf of bread with your feet, it will take time before you get the results you want.  Take classes, learn, develop, and (I'll say it again) practice practice practice!  Try doing it a little differently, experiment, and see how you can bring new life to whatever skill it is you're learning (especially if it's in the arts).

But aside from ample practice time, to be able to do something well takes patience with oneself.  If I had let my frustration get to me and walked out of class, I'd never improve my skills.  No one is born knowing how to do anything.  Some things may come easier for certain people and not others, but we can build and improve any skill we so choose.

We may fail from time to time, but the biggest failure comes when we don't even give ourselves the chance to try.

And no matter how well we may do something, we can always get better.  Keep learning, keep practicing, keep your patience for yourself, and keep doing what you love.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Learning Patience Again... and again, and again, and again.

Earlier today I went and had lunch with my Grandpa Bob (the same grandpa that was mentioned in another recent post- legally blind and hard of hearing) and the whole thing was a reminder of patience.  He was having extra trouble hearing today, and his hearing aids were not working with him.  One of the first things he said to me when I picked him up was "I'm feeling very confused today and I am not sure why."  The combination of the two meant I had to repeat myself a lot.

I love Grandpa Bob- I think he's a fascinating man, funny, and one of the most genuine human beings ever to be on earth.  At nearly 90 years old, he's got some amazing stories spanning many decades.  The things he's seen and experienced are things that I could only imagine.

But it was hard today- he kept asking me the same questions again and again and repeating everything several times.  (It got a little frustrating- not him, but the situation.  It's hard to imagine what it must feel like to be in a position where you can't see anything and can barely hear anything, then add confusion on top of that.  I kept reminding myself that he thought it was the first time he was saying whatever it was, so I wouldn't start saying "Grandpa, you already asked that, remember?")  Grandpa has always been there my entire life, and he and I became close over the last seven or eight years, so it's hard to see him in such a state.  There is so much he used to be able to do that he isn't able to do anymore- simple things that we (as younger people) often take for granted and never realize that there will come a day when we won't be able to do things we once loved doing (like skydiving, dancing, swimming in the ocean waves, or see the faces and hear the voices of the ones we love).  At least, though, he's in good spirits- all he wants is some company and to know his family loves him.  I am not sure we tell him enough.

I've looked back over the years at my Grandpa Bob and at Grandpa McCoid (before he passed away at age 101) and thought to myself about how captivating life is.  Both of those men led incredible lives, full of adventure, joy, sorrow, good times, love, and every thing else that is part of the human experience.  Grandpa Bob used to be a pilot for the USAF- he was actually training in the air when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 (age 19).  The combination of the two of them, as well as most other elderly people I've come across, inspired a novel I started a couple of years ago. I intend to finish it someday, but I need to completely rework it- my writing as changed so much since I started it (it was actually the first novel I ever started) and it needs A LOT of improvement, but I still like the general story concept.  It's about reflecting on life, respecting your elders and appreciating the experience and wisdom they have to offer, and offering what you know to the younger generations.  It's very dear to my heart, especially since it was inspired by a grandfather and a great-grandfather I admire greatly.

Grandpa Bob circa 1944

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weekend Break

It's been a pretty nice weekend, overall.  Went and saw Star Wars Ep 1 in 3D yesterday with Danny and Kevin.  It's a great movie, but I didn't feel the 3D was anything spectacular.  It was cool to see it in the theater, though.

My grandpa came and stayed the night.  He's legally blind and getting very hard of hearing, but he enjoyed the visit.  He seemed very frustrated- he could barely hear at all, worse that usually.  When we took him home, I cleaned his hearing aids for him and it seemed to help.

Went shopping this afternoon and bought some decorations for the Oscar Party I'm having next Sunday.  I can't wait!  They're always a lot of fun.  I haven't seen very many of the nominated films this year, but I always enjoy spending time with good people and goofing around a bit.

I didn't do any writing this weekend.  It was a nice break- I feel refreshed and ready to get going on the story again tomorrow!  :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Peppermint tea and a peaceful playlist

We don't always realize when life's pivotal moments will come.  Sometimes we don't even know they've happened until they're already over.

I feel like the last year or so has been leading up to this week; or that the last several years have been leading up to these few months.  It's hard to describe- like something magical is about to happen, but I get to decide whether or not it happens.  I feel like I'm in control of my destiny, and yet I feel like the fact that the future is entirely unknown is exciting.  Just sitting here thinking about it has my adrenaline rushing, in a good way.  Like my spirit has been awoken and my soul has been renewed, but I don't even know why.

It's hard for me to admit this, but I'm pretty certain I had depression.  I say "pretty certain" because I was never officially diagnosed since I didn't have health insurance to see a doctor, but several people who are close to me said that they believe that's what I was suffering from.  I did a lot of reading and found out that I had all but one of the symptoms (according to Depression for Dummies, I had probably been suffering from it for years).  It was at it's worst a few months ago, and I had thoughts about myself that I will never repeat.

But now, I feel alive again.  I've been reflecting on this as I drink one of my new favorites, peppermint tea, and listening to a great playlist.  I feel like I've been sitting in a dark room and I finally figured out where the light switch is, letting brightness in.  I feel like I'm ready to let go of my past mistakes (there's a lot of them, but we don't need to go into detail right now) and move on.  I think I'm so ready for the future, and excited to just let myself be happy being me.

I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be my year.  I intend to release three or four more books, including my memoir, before the end of the year (and at this rate, probably more).  I also feel that this year I'm going to reach my goal weight and learn how to dance (yay, more to blog about).  Last but not least, I want to start acting professionally again (I miss it so much- I did a Solo show in December, but it's been almost a year since I've performed in something I didn't write).  There's no reason why I can't be a WRITER and an ACTRESS!  Both are such deep-rooted passions of mine, and both fulfill me endlessly.  I'm focusing on writing right now so I can finally start paying my bills again, but once I get the ball really rolling on that, I'm getting back into acting again too.

So here's to the good times, and to the bad times that make the good times shine that much brighter. <3

The Great Beyond

I can't really remember a time when I wasn't aware of how fast time goes by.  When I was in elementary school, I remember thinking "Wow, it's 1994 already.  It seems like the years just sped by!"  In 1994, I was 7 (turned 8 in September of 1994).

Life seems to go a little quicker each year, which sometimes feels overwhelming.  I think part of the reason I've been aware of the hastiness of time is that I've dealt with my own mortality at a young age.  It's never been a secret to me that my life has no guaranteed length; I wasn't even expected to see my 7th birthday when I was diagnosed with germination cell cancer back in 1993.  But here I am, almost 19 years later, and doing fine.  (Well, for the most part.  Cancer, as I've learned, is a lifelong battle, even when the cancer itself is gone- it doesn't define or rule me, though.)  There's always been the thought in the back of my mind that I'd go before I'm 30, which I hope I'm wrong about.  There's no real rhyme or reason for the thought; just something I've felt.

I'm not really afraid of dying (I'd prefer not to for a while, though).  It's something that is a part of life- there is no secret to immortality that has been discovered, and the fact remains that if you're alive, you will also die.  But like I said, dying isn't scary- it's not really living that is scary.

We're put here on earth for only a short while.  In the grand scheme of things, our lifespans are pretty short.  But they're full of endless potential- what we are capable of stretched beyond the depth of the most vivid imaginations, and the beauty of humanity can really shine through if we let it.

I think that's one reason why books and movies that deal with immortality do so well: most people fear death and wish they could continue living forever.  I think that's also why ghost stories and tales of the Great Beyond do so well, also.  We fantasize about living eternally or at least having a solid answer as to what comes next.

The truth is, though, we won't know until we get there.  We can speculate, imagine, and fantasize about what lies beyond, but the only way of truly knowing what it will be like is to actually die and cross over.  I think that's why so many people have liked my books so far- The Secret Room and Shadows in the Window have both sold better than I would've imagined.  They both deal with the unknown and the human fear and inquisition of wanting to know what lies beyond death.

I personally believe in a life after death, though I can only speculate on the details of it.  I love ghost stories and tales of the Great Beyond, but most of the time I don't really think about death.  I try to focus on life, love, and enjoying the moments we get here on earth and the people we share them with.

And I leave you with this, a little visit to the Dark Side of the Moon:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'm taking a short break from writing so I can write.

I've spent almost the entire day writing, blowing my previous word count record out of the water.  Previous record was around 2,200 words in a day- today's count is 4,326!  My fingers have been going all day.  The ink on the A, S, and E keys on my keyboard are almost completely faded away (though not just from today, but this may have been the final nail in their coffin).  It's pretty easy to tell which keys I use the most.

I was thinking today about pseudonyms.  If I had used a pseudonym, I would use the first name Paige.  It's a great name, and holds a double-meaning since I, you know... write.  I've been thinking about writing a couple of things in a genre far different from my usual stuff, and considering using a pen name just so people don't confuse one work for the other.  I'd hate to have someone expecting to find a children's book and come across a bunch of horror stuff.  Bedtime stories would be so different that night!  But I like the name Paige.  If I were to use a pen name, the first name would definitely be Paige.  The last name?  Turner.

There was a nice blanket of snow here yesterday.  It was sticking for a while, but didn't stay for long.  I went out and played in it for a little bit.  Let the 10-year-old in me out to play for a little while.

I'm going to get back to work for maybe another hour or so.  Tonight, the story is just flowing, and I'm loving it.

In Loving Memory of A, S, and E

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Return of the undead!

Did you see the Walking Dead mid-season premiere?  What did you think?

I've been reading the comics-- oops, I mean, graphic novels- the television show is quite different from the original books, but I'm sure they'll add in more elements from the comics graphic novels as the series goes on.

I'm not sure how I feel about my zombie novel at the moment.  I have the whole thing visualized in my head, and I like it, but when I actually write it I feel it might not be coming out as I pictured it.  I'm pushing through to the end, then I'll go back and make changes.  I'm aiming to have it up by April, if it's done and at a level of quality I'm satisfied with.

By no means am I reinventing the genre, but I think I have a story that is original enough to get some readers.  There's similarities to other zombie works, of course, but the similarities go across nearly every piece of zombie fiction I've ever read or seen.  (A virus, an outbreak, losing control, etc.)  My main character is a woman- a mother, actually.  She's not a bad-ass like in most other zombie works, but she finds a strength she didn't know she had.  As the story evolves, it seems like the group of people she's with become more of central characters than side characters.  Kind of like "The Walking Dead"- Rick starts out as the main character, and slowly we see more and more of the other characters come into focus.  I like it that way, and I hope others will too.

A wrote a sentence yesterday that I think encompasses the entire meaning I hope to give through the story.  It's not even in a full scene yet- just a note I made about a scene I want to write down the line.

Remember Kevin, the guy who was writing a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days?  Well, he finished it!  It came out to a little more than 50,000 words.  I'm currently reading it now, and this will definitely be one you'll all want to read!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Power to the People

Sometimes I'm not sure which is worse- a person who has the ability but chooses not to vote, or a person who votes without knowing what they're voting for.  Both are a negative thing- one has the power, but throws it away, while the other one makes an uneducated vote based on who knows what factors.

You won't often see me posting about politics on this blog, but I felt this was weighing on my heart and needed to be said.

Many people complain about the government and the state of the nation.  It's true that things are not so great, and there is definitely changes that can be made to make our nation the grand place our forefathers dreamed of.  America used to be one of the greatest nations in the world- maybe even THE greatest- but not so much anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I stand fully behind my country- just not behind my government.

Some people say that the power does not belong to the people, that we need to seize control from the powers that be in order to make our country great once again.  But there's someone that most people don't realize- We actually DO have the power, now more than ever.

Voting is an amazing thing, and not something that should be taken lightly.  There's few people who are neutral on Obama and his policies- some thing he's terrible, comparing him to Hitler (which, I'm sorry, whether you're for or against him, this is a bit extreme- until he declares a master race and starts the extermination of certain peoples, this is an extreme comparison), while others think he's the best thing to happen to our nation since winning the Revolutionary War.  What most people don't take into account is that he does not have as much power as many think he does- Congress is a huge factor.

This post is a call to action, of sorts.  I'm not going to tell you who to vote for or whether or not I think Obama should be re-elected.  Instead, I'm going to strongly urge you to educate yourself before you vote this November.  You've got about nine months before going to the polls, which is plenty of time to learn about the presidential candidates (even if you only spend a few minutes a week learning about their views/policies).  Take time to learn about the representatives and their beliefs, both the incumbents and the new candidates.  It is just as, if not more, important as who you decide to vote for to take the presidency.

This year, I'm not voting for anyone from either of the two power-parties.  In my opinion, neither of them have done what would be best for the American people.  Instead, I'm voting for a third-party candidate who shares a lot of my views- he especially believes that government has been overstepping their boundaries and controlling too much of the America peoples' freedoms.  I think he has a good head on his shoulders, and although most people have not heard of him yet, I'm giving my vote to him.

Some say that not voting for one of the two major parties is the same as throwing away a vote.  In my opinion, voting for someone you don't fully believe in is throwing away the nation's wellbeing just to hope your vote counts.  This year, vote for who you REALLY want to see elected, not who you think will get elected.  Don't give your vote to someone just to take away a vote against someone you dislike; vote for the person who DESERVES your vote.  If all the American voters actually voted for who they believed was the right person for the job, then for once the right person might actually GET the job.

One last thing- don't get all your information from one source.  Don't just watch FOX and CNN- they don't report on all of the candidates, and they are very influenced to one side.  Check out as many sources as you can find- use your logic and understanding to sort through what is true and what is not true.  Look at the candidate's pages (especially third-party candidates, who get next to no airtime on television) and see what their views are on the issues that are important to YOU.  Don't give your vote to someone who does not absolutely deserve it!

Here's a couple of sources to get you started, but I urge you to find more (and please share any helpful links you find here):
* 2012 Presidential Candidates (a great source to start at- lists all the candidates and their beliefs on issues; well-organized and easy to use website)
* Americans Elect 2012 (helpful source about the election; also has some information on the candidates and the process of the election)

Vote wisely- the fate of the nation is in your hands.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

To you, I say- THANK YOU!!!

Today will probably be a bit of an emotional day.  The Aungst family, a family my family has known for more than a decade (and this family is like family to us- proof that family doesn't always mean blood relative) is moving to another state.  This afternoon is the going-away gathering for them.  We're not calling it a "Goodbye Party," but a "See-Ya-Later Party" because we know that this is hardly goodbye.  Even a state away, they'll never be able to get rid of us.  ;)

It's interesting about family and the friends who become like family- they're always the ones who have seen you during your most embarrassing state, your darkest hour, and your worst moment, and yet they stick around unconditionally to help you celebrate the good times, laugh with each other, and join in on life's highest moments.  Family isn't defined by blood, really.  Family is defined by love, support, and encouragement.  I'm super-blessed for the family I have, both the blood relatives and the friends who became like family.  I'm super-blessed to have the friends I have, too.  Without all those people in my life, I know I wouldn't be the person I am today.  They've help me find the best in me, even when I didn't believe it was there.

And speaking of support and love, I can't begin to tell you how amazed and flattered I am.  Shadows in the Window is doing so well, and I am just so grateful!  Thank you to all of you (even if you haven't downloaded it yet) for the support, encouragement, and enthusiasm you all so graciously offer.  You are the ones I write for!  To my family, my friends, my future friends, my future family members, my readers, and everyone else- thank you, endlessly, from the greatest and most beautiful depths of my heart.  Truly, without you I wouldn't be on this amazing path, and I am so grateful to get to share the journey with you all!

So now, for a little update on Shadows in the Window-  Last night, I reported it was ranking #773 in Free in the Kindle Store, and #29 in the Horror genre.  Here's this morning's numbers:
click to enlarge
That's right!  Can you believe those numbers??  It's #401 in Kindle Free, and #12 in Horror!  I also got an amazing review:

I'm really really hoping to see Shadows in the Window reach the top 100 before the free sale is over.  Can you help, please?  Just share the link with someone you know likes to read- tell your mother, brother, father, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, nephew, friends, classmates, phlebotomist, swim coach, boss, coworker, favorite teller at the bank, the telemarketer who interrupts your dinner tonight, your dog, cat, zookeeper, bartender, pastor, and anyone else you can think of!

Don't have a Kindle?  You can still read the book for free: click here.

Just a forewarning: as the review says, this book is not recommended for children.  I'd say PG-13.  Parents, if your kid wants to read it, maybe you should read it first: you're the best judge for your child.

Again, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!  I can't thank you all enough!!!  You've made me so incredibly happy!  :-D :-D :-D

Friday, February 10, 2012

We need more cowbell!

The little things in life make me so happy: I set my ringtone to the theme song from The Walking Dead.

I've been working on my zombie novel all day, and I'm very happy with where it's going.  There was a scene that popped into my head last night when I was in bed, and I wrote it out today- it won't be until later in the book, but I think that in this scene there is one sentence that wraps up the whole idea I'm trying to convey in the book.  I didn't even really realize it until I wrote it, but with it in mind, I think my story just got a whole lot stronger.  I still need a title for the book, but I think that will be one of the last things I create.

In between writing, I can't help but check my numbers.  (I'm trying not to become obsessive with it, but I'm so excited that people are reading my work!)  Here's the latest:
Click to enlarge

Please help him climb!  What a dream it would be to see Shadows in the Window in the top 100!!

And now, as I get back to work, I leave you with this video, which combines two things I have a strange love for: The Walking Dead and Christopher Walken.

Shadows in the Window is available now!!!

Shadows in the Window became available last night, and is on Amazon for FREE right now!!  Get your copy now, there's only four copies left!!!  Just kidding, there's an endless supply, but it will only be free for the next few days.  Click HERE to get it!  :-D  I'm very happy with how it came out, and I think it's even better than The Secret Room, actually.

I was so anxious about the debut of Shadows in the Window that I barely got any writing done yesterday.  I'm on it today, though, working on my zombie novel, and LOVING IT!!!!

And check it out, Shadows in the Window is on the Kindle Author Blog today!!  I was so pleasantly surprised, I actually squeaked with joy when I saw it on there!

Take a look at this: out of the MILLIONS of books on Amazon, Shadows in the Window is ranking pretty high and climbing (you can click on the pictures to make them larger)-
(if it's too small to read, it says it's ranking at #1,581 of free books in the Kindle Store, and #73 in the Horror genre)

Twenty minutes later...

(#1,191 of free books in the Kindle Store, and #47 in Horror!  Just twenty minutes later!!)

Please help it climb, I'm so thrilled that it's doing so well!  I would be honored if you would share the link with your friends, family, and anyone else who likes a good spooky story.  :-D

I'm riding on Cloud Ten today, and feeling fantastic!!!  Thank you everyone for your support, and I hope you'll enjoy Shadows in the Window!  :-D  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!  :-D

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SNEAK PREVIEW- Just for you.

Just for my blog readers (all ten of you, haha), I posting a special preview of Shadows in the Window, which is coming out tomorrow.

Here's the cover:

And the description on Amazon:

It was the house sitting dream-job for Rachel.

For the next ten days, it was all hers: a luxurious pool, over-sized beds, her favorite foods, and all the horror movies she could watch.

But this old mansion has some secrets of its own.

Is this amazing house actually haunted?  Or is it just her imagination?

And the first couple paragraphs of the first chapter:

The long, winding road made Rachel wonder if she had the address right.  She had started her own housesitting business about a year ago, and was impressed that she was getting so many jobs.  This one was almost too good to be true- large house, pool, all food included, no strange pets, and an amazing pay rate.  The clients, Mr. and Mrs. Abernathy, were paying her more than double what she usually asked for.  The job was for ten nights, and Rachel knew it would be one of the more luxurious jobs, considering the way Mr. Abernathy described the house over the phone.
Rachel pulled up to the house and looked up in awe.  It wasn’t just a house- it was a mansion.  The structure was magnificent; towering walls lined with brick and stone, countless windows, a lovely porch, two upstairs balconies- one with lounge chairs, the other with a table set- and glorious trees that looked at least a hundred years old.  The mansion nearly resembled a petite castle, and Rachel felt like royalty as she parked her car on the stone driveway.
She grabbed her bag from the trunk and walked up to the double-doors, admiring the intricate designs on the tempered glass that accented the deep wood as she rang the doorbell.  A moment later, a slender, well-dressed woman greeted Rachel.  The woman smiled softly at Rachel, showing just a sliver of her teeth.  Her eyes were deep brown and wide, her slick black hair pulled up tightly into a bun, and she wore a sleeveless, form-fitted black dress that fluttered down past her knees.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Zombie Withdrawals

It's been almost 3 months since the last episode of "The Walking Dead" aired, and I can't wait for the new episode on Sunday.  (Just four days, four hours, and forty minutes until it airs!  But who's counting, right?  And whoa, what a strange time length: 4d,4h,40m.  Lots o' 4's.)  I got several of the comic books for Christmas, and I'm loving them!  Completely devoured them.

 read it, zombie lovers!  you'll like it.

I love zombies.  I do, it's just a thing.  They've fascinated me as long as I can remember, and I have absolutely no idea why.  Some people like ketchup, some like mustard.  Some people like vampires, I like zombies.

Although it's been about a month since I wrote a word for it, I'm still hoping to get my zombie novel done soon.  I wrote the outline for The Secret Room: Beginnings today, but now I just can't seem to get zombies off my brain (pun totally intended).  So I've made a decision: I'm going to take a little time off from SR:B and spend a little time with the undead.  Think of it as my toast to the return of "The Walking Dead."

 "How about a kiss?  No?  Aw, I get no kisses since eating off my own lips."

A while back, I started a blog from the perspective of a zombie named Alice.  I like her, although I found I didn't have much time to put into that blog once I started writing novels/novellas/novelettes (not to mention school, working at the dance studio, and so on).  The other problem was that I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with Alice- I considered using her story as the basis for a play, and I started it, but never took the time to finish it.  Maybe one day I'll go back to it.

"I'm Alice.  I died in 1989 and was reanimated in 2010."

But the whole point of this blog is to say two things:
1) I love zombies.
2) I miss writing my zombie novel.

I really can't decide which one I would rather complete first: the zombie novel or SR:B.  The zombie novel (which is still untitled, but I'll worry about a title when I finish it) is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, and I started it several months ago (breaking in between and taking care of other things first).  But SR:B is something that people seem to be anticipating (and by "people" I mean the four family members and friends who've asked me about it).

I'm going to work on both at the same time, or at least try to.  For the rest of the week, I'm going to work on the zombie novel.  :)

Reading about writing, writing about reading, and writing about writing.

I like reading.  I like writing.  Right now, I'm writing about writing.  That last sentence, I was writing about writing about writing.  Whoa, now that sentence was writing about writing about writing about writing.  It's so much writing within writing- it's Ink-ception!

For any writers out there, I must recommend this book I'm currently reading: It's called Story; written by Robert McKee.  It talks about the elements of a story, not only from a technical aspect, but also from a creative standpoint.  I'm a couple chapters in, but it's already made me think about my writing on a much deeper level.

One of the things it talks about is having two "talents": Literary and creative.  The two must go hand-in-hand.  The author talks about how literary can be taught, but either you have creativity or you don't; it can't be taught.

I'm a little on the fence about this idea.  Yes, I do believe that creativity cannot be taught, but I do believe it can be nourished and developed.  The brain, like any other muscle, gets stronger with exercise, and that includes the creative portion of our minds.  I believe that everyone is born with creativity of varying degrees.  It comes out much easier for some than it does for others, but everyone has creativity inside of them.  Some people exercise their creativity on a daily basis, and it becomes more prominent and much mightier.

If a person never exercises their creativity, it will eventually weaken to a point where it can no longer be revived.  There may still be a chance, but it'll take a lot of work.

The more you practice your creativity, the better you'll be at it.  I read an article recently on the mental health benefits of being bored- when we're bored, our minds wander, allowing them to explore areas of our intellect that may have not been visited in a while.  Albert Einstein was notorious for his ability to just sit and think for long periods of time, solving problems and coming up with new ideas.  J.K. Rowling said that she came up with the idea for Harry Potter while staring out the window on a trainride.  (Not that I'm comparing myself to them, but I came up with the idea for Shadows in the Window while daydreaming.  The Secret Room was based on a dream I had.  Most of my stories come from sleep-dreaming or daydreaming.)

We are always so quick to pull out our phones when we're bored, play a game or pop around on FaceBook just to kill a few idle moments.  (Uuuhhh, I never do that.  Yea, right.)  But the truth is, daydreaming is a gift.  I challenge you- next time you've got time to kill, try taking a stroll through your imagination.  It may seem a little bit uncomfortable at first, but keep walking.  You may just discover the next big sensational literary series hiding away in the untouched depths of your mind!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What's your story?

If there is one thing I learned in Solo Class, it's that everyone has a story.  (I actually learned a lot in Solo, but that's not the point of this post.)  If you have lived, if you are alive, you have a story.  Whether you are one-hundred years old, or just a few minutes old, you have a story.  Of course, the person who is 100 will have a much longer, richer story, but the person who is just a few minutes old has a story as well- who are his/her parents?  How was birth?  Did he/she come out via natural birth, or was it a C-Section?  Anyway...

Each day has its own story.  Life is a story, whether it is one person's short life, or the entire existence of life itself.  I think that's why people love stories so much- they are a reflection of life, meant to intrigue us and try to help us better understand the chaos we live in and contribute to every day.  We search for explanations of the world around us, seek to know our inner selves, and strive to expand our intellectual horizons (at least, most of us do.  If you're reading this, I'm betting you're probably one of those people just because you're reading).

Whether it's a true story, a ficticious story, an exaggerated story, or a fragmented story, we all love stories.  We devour them on a daily basis, through movies, books, novelettes, FaceBook posts, Tweets, magazine articles, news reports, word-of-mouth, and so many other mediums.

I love telling stories.  I love sharing my own personal story as well as writing the fictional stories I create.  Writing is an addiction, a hobby, and hopefully soon a career.  Days I am unable to write feel less productive, even if I've spent the entire day cleaning house, cooking, making a fort out of toothpicks, or working on other projects.  I need to write, be it five words or two-thousand.  I can't think of a day in recent memory where I didn't write something, even if it was only a status update or a text message.

Today I wrote some revisions for Shadows in the Window, as well as added a new chapter.  I'm very excited about it!  Tomorrow, Danny is going to make a cover for me.  I'm not sure what I want, but I'll have to come up with something so he'll have at least a basic idea to work with.  (He created the cover for The Secret Room, and I think it turned he did a fantastic job!)  I feel really good about Shadows in the Window, and I hope that if you're reading this post that you will also read Shadows in the Window when it comes out.  (It'll be free for the first five days of availability, so you have no reason not to.  After that, it's just $0.99.  You can't even get a cup of black coffee for $0.99 any more!)

With Shadows in the Window, I feel the story is strong and interesting.  Well, at least interesting.  Maybe.  I'm not sure, I am probably a terrible judge of my own work- usually I either love it or absolutely loathe it, when it usually turns out to be somewhere in the middle in most peoples' opinion.  My goal is not to just tell a good story, but to tell it well.  I want characters to be interesting, events to keep the reader on the edge of the seat, and make the audience want a little more.  You be the judge.  :)

This week, my time is dedicated to finishing up Shadows in the Window. Next week, I'll be starting work on The Secret Room: Beginnings, and from what I have so far in my notes, I think that will be my best work yet.  It'll probably also be my longest!  I'm going to aim for 30,000 words on that one, make it reach novel (instead of novelette or novella) status.  I can't wait!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Back to reality.

This last week has been so busy!  In a way, I'm a little relieved that the chaos is over, but I'm sad that family and friends have gone.

We got back to California from Texas last Monday.  I was certain I was going to get sick- we were surrounded by coughing passengers on the flight home and you could just taste the germs in the air.  I'm pleasantly surprised that I didn't catch anything.

Tuesday, we picked up Danny's parents (whom we stayed with for a month in TX).  They were in town for Grandma O's (Danny's dad's mother) funeral, and stayed with us.  Vickie (my sister) came to stay Thursday and Friday night with us because it was my mom's birthday; my friend Emma (who just completed a year-long internship at Walt Disney World) was in CA for a couple weeks before going home to Australia, and stayed with us on Friday and Saturday night.  Danny's parents and Emma all flew home yesterday from LAX.

I haven't had any time to write or do edits yet on Shadows in the Window, but that's what I'm working on this week.  Doing a cover on Wednesday night, and I have an official release date for Shadows in the Window: February 10th!!  It'll be on a free promo for the first 5 days of its availability, then will go to the regular $0.99 price on February 15th.

I don't regret that I haven't done any work for the last week; it was nice to have a break (because going back to it after a period means I'll have fresh eyes) and I would never give up time with my family.  But today it's back to reality (or at least my version of it): working on writing, getting unpacked, and working at the front desk at Goddess Fitness Dance this evening.  I love Goddess- it's a dance studio I work at every Tuesday (this week I'm there Monday and Tuesday) that offers amazing classes.  So much fun, and after more than a month of no dancing, I'm very ready to get back to it.

The main focus this week is finishing Shadows in the Window.  Sending it out to my proofreader after I make some corrections and add in a scene I feel it needs.  After it goes up, I'm going to begin writing The Secret Room: Beginnings (working title, I may change it- what do you think?) which is a follow-up to The Secret Room.  I've got a ton of notes for it, and I think it's going to answer the important questions that The Secret Room did not.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Go Get a Job!!

Two nights ago, my family went out to dinner.  Our waitress was such a character- so funny and on the ball.  When she was gathering up dishes, one of us asked "What do you need?" (trying to help hand her what she wanted to take)  Jokingly, she replied "Oh, a working car... a job I like... That's all."

While she was joking, there was some truth to it.  (At least, I'm pretty sure there was- it seemed like it.)  It got me thinking- why do people work jobs they don't like?  What job out there do you want to have, but feel you can't get (for whatever reason)?

I tried working the "regular" jobs.  I worked at a movie theater, a kid's toy/clothing store, a video rental place, a restaurant, a bank, a bookstore, and a call center for a cruise line.  The jobs were all interesting, and all had their good points and fun parts.  But I'm really bad at being treated like a replaceable number.  (The video store wasn't like that- it was locally owned by two wonderful people, and for the majority of my time there, I was the only employee- it was probably my favorite job.  I left when the owners sold the place and the new owners hired only family.)  I place life, education, and family above job (because jobs are replaceable, but family and life are not, and education is one of the most valuable things our species has), so when I had to choose, I never chose the job.

I was never fired from a job, but a few times I did not leave under my own will (the kid's store I was only hired seasonal, the bank manager at the time told me that if I didn't quit then she'd fire two other people, which I found out later was false).  I don't regret having so many jobs (over about a 6-year period) because I learned a lot at each job, met interesting people, and came to understand a little more about human nature.

When you find the right job for you, it won't feel like a job most of the time. You'll love what you do, and you'll do it well.  I'm a writer, and I love it.  I'm also an actress, and I love that, too.  Writing and acting make me happy, and they satisfy me more than any large paycheck or ample benefits ever could.  I'm not making much money right now (read: I'm barely scraping enough to fill my gas tank) but I can feel that it'll grow.  Not meaning to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty good at writing, and I feel very strongly that if you chase your passions, then the money will chase you.  Eventually, the income will start to snowball and I'll be able to live comfortably off my writing.  (read: with a lot of hard work, determination, and patience.)

But let's talk about you now.  Do you like your job?  Is it what you dreamed of doing when you were a kid?  If it isn't, then maybe it's time for a change.  Ask yourself what's stopping you from going for what you really want.  Whether you dream of being a great world leader or a garbage man, do it!  Do what makes you happy.  And those "reasons" why you can't?  They're just excuses.  Here, let me show you some:

*"I'm too old to do what I want to do.  It's too late."  FALSE!  It's never too late.  My grandpa, for example, didn't find what he loved to do until he was 56.  When he talks about that job, he always says how happy he was and how much he enjoyed it.  There was an article recently about a woman who always dreamed of getting a degree, but life kept getting in the way.  She finally got her degree- at age 96!!  And she was so happy.  I have a character in an unpublished book that says "You're only too old to dream when you're dead."  So go out, get it.

*"I'm not smart enough to do what I love."  FALSE!  Yes, you are.  If you don't have the knowledge or skills now, you can get them.  Read about it, practice, consume everything you can about it until it fills your being and you can recite every detail of it in your sleep.  If it's what you love, you'll love learning about it.  Take classes, do an internship, whatever it takes.  Which brings us to our next point...

*"I can't afford to take classes or learn skills.  It's too expensive."  FALSE!  There are a ton of opportunities for inexpensive learning out there.  There's also a ton of opportunities for scholarships and grants (millions of dollars go unclaimed every year- seriously, apply for some scholarships and grants).  Some are specific, others are wide open, but there's a scholarship or grant out there for everyone.  No matter who you are, you qualify for dozens of scholarships.  (For example, I qualify for a minority scholarship that's available because I'm left-handed.  No joke.)

*"I don't have the time to do what I love."  FALSE!  We make time for what we want to do.  I make time for writing, family, and classes.  Take a look at your time- do you watch television every day?  That time can be used to study, learn, go to classes, and anything else you want to do.  Unless you're working a job that requires you to be there and working for 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, you can find the time to work towards the job you really want.

*"Everyone tells me I can't do what it is I want to do."  FALSE!  FALSE! FALSE!!!  Who cares if other people believe you can do it or not; what matters is if YOU believe you can do it or not.  If people tell you that you aren't able to do something, then don't ask them.  You know what you are capable of; most people are actually capable of a lot more than they give themselves credit for, and you're probably one of them!  Anything is possible, and if you bring to mind any of the most successful people in history, none of them started out in the success they found.  For example, Walt Disney came from a farm family in the middle of Missouri.  He didn't finish school (though education, partiticularly self-education, was extremely important to him).  When he came out to California, he had only a few dollars he borrowed from an uncle and a small suitcase of clothes.  He was turned down at every studio he applied to work at.  But with hard work and dedication, he built an entertainment empire.  People told him not to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs because "who would want to sit through 80 minutes of animation?"  People told him not to build Disneyland because "who would want to go to a place like that?"  But he ignored the naysayers, and did what he believed in and what he loved, and you can too.  The most successful and amazing people come from humble beginnings, and all of them had people who advised them not to do what it is they had in mind.  History and innovation is made by people who ignore the naysayers and do what they believe in.

So... think about the ulimate dream job you want to have.  What's stopping you?  The only true answer is you are.
The only limits we have are the ones we give ourselves.