Saturday, January 26, 2013

Time to Change the Channel

Our brains have a huge negativity bias!

Really? Do tell.

Here’s a quote from the article I read:

Evolution has given us a brain with what scientists call a “negativity bias” that makes it prone to feeling threatened. This bias developed because the ancient mammals, primates, and early humans that were all mellow and fearless did not notice the shadow overhead or slither nearby that CHOMP! killed them. The ones that survived to pass on their genes were nervous and cranky, and we are their great-grandchildren, sitting atop the food chain, armed with nuclear weapons. Your brain is continually looking for bad news. As soon as it finds some, it fixates on it with tunnel vision, fast-tracks it into memory storage, and then reactivates it at the least hint of anything even vaguely similar. But good news gets a kind of neural shrug: “uh, whatever.
**In effect, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.

Okay, so this mean the negative experiences and emotions get more attention than positive ones. Well, poo. It sure explains a lot in my world.  I can be having the best day ever and then Wham! I check my son’s grades, or I read a negative review, or someone cuts me off in traffic or new puppy chews up another wall. Yep, afterward that’s all I can think about for the next few hours or longer. But if Negative emotions take up more space in our brains and make us focus on bad experiences instead of the good, what are we supposed to do? It’s clear we need to find a way to balance it all out. But that’s easier said than done, right?

There is no doubt in my mind that the key to happiness and success in our careers, friendships, and even our marriages relies on our ability to search out and cling to the positive experiences in our lives verses the negatives ones.

 The negative stuff will always be there—it always has. But so will the positive stuff. All we need to do is learn or train ourselves to change the channel in our brains. That’s right. When something negative happens or we get a bit of bad news, we have to switch over to a good memory or a positive experience and focus on it until there is no remnant of the bad left.

I sure wish it didn’t take longer to change a bad habit than it does to create a new good one.  LOL

A new resolution for 2013. 

Be positive in the face of adversity, preserve when times are toughest, and resist those who insist it can’t be done!

I CAN do this! J


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Journey Never Ends

For years I tried writing on my own.  I mean most writers write alone, but I wasn’t a part of a group and didn’t know anyone else who shared my dream.  It was such a lonely place to be, I still wonder how I managed to finish that first manuscript. But I’m so glad I did. The feeling of typing those last few words was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. J  Finding someone to share in my enthusiasm was a totally different story.

My bubble of joy burst quickly as I looked for agents and publishers I thought would love to add my book to their long lists of bestsellers. I sent in the required information and then waited.  And waited.  And waited.  When the first rejection came I was disappointed, but still held out hope.  Maybe this publisher was just having a bad day.  Then the second rejection came and the third and by the fourth I was pretty heartbroken. I still had no contact with other writers, little support at home, mainly because I hadn’t exactly told hubby what I was doing, and I started to think about just giving up. I mean no one would even know I failed.

No one but me.

I discovered Romance Writers of America online by accident and started looking for local chapters around my area. There were three. One was so close it was scary. After doing a little research on this chapter, I found out they were holding their annual contest and I still had time to enter before the deadline. Sending in my entry was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I was desperate to see what kind of feedback I would get. When the results came back it wasn’t pretty at all. The disappointment and frustration almost wore me down.  But something inside wouldn’t let me toss in the towel just yet.

I tried to reason with myself. Maybe that wasn’t the right story. So I decided to keep going and start something new. After finishing the second manuscript, I knew I had what it took to get the stories out of my head and down on paper. Now all I needed was a bit of work on my craft and a lot of knowledge on how the publishing industry really worked. My mind made up, I set out to check out the RWA chapter I’d sent my entry to in person.

Geesh… and I thought sending in my entry was hard. Going to that first meeting all alone was downright brutal. Sweating bullets, I sat in the car trying to talk myself out of it for a while, but again that little voice inside wouldn’t go away.

Try it. Go in for a few minutes. If you don’t like it you can always leave.

From the moment I walked through the doors, the people were awesome!  Friendly, exciting and they shared the same dream. Wow! I knew right then and there I’d never be the same. And it was a good thing!
A few gems every new writer needs to know:

The learning never ends.

Critique partners are priceless.

Doubts are part of the process.

There is no one size fits all in writing.

You must carve out your own path, dig in and follow your dreams.

And the most important one of all,

Never Give up!

My one and only regret is that I wish I’d have found these out sooner!  I’ve made so many new friends both online and local and just knowing others not only share my struggles, but also the joys of writing as well is so dang awesome I’m getting all teary eyed just thinking about it now.

No matter where you are in your journey, or what your journey may be, please don't try going it alone. The internet opens up so many doors. Search for others who love what you love. Join them. Learn from them. Share with them.

Dream big and then make it happen!



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pantser vs Plotter

First a definition of what the two mean to me:

Panster – one who writes by the seat of their pants. Their stories start with an enticing incident, set of characters or maybe just a location. Then the writer writes and discovers the plot along the way. A Panstser enjoys the thrill of the chase, the adventure and excitement of watching the story evolve before their eyes. I get excited just thinking about this one!

Plotter– the organized writer. One who has an outline, detailed character sketch, has done their research and knows where their story is going. They focus on structure, planning and details.

Some may say being a pantser leads to frequent writer’s block or unnecessary ramblings as they try to figure out which way to take their story. I say, not for me. I’ve tried several times over the years to outline and plot. This has led me into the perilous pit of writer’s block every single time. I feel trapped inside a box and my muse refuses to work under these conditions.
Like all creative processes, there is no one right way to write. Experimenting is the best thing to do to see which way works best for you. I even have writer friends who combine the two. A little pantsing here and a little plotting there is the key that opens the creative vault for them.

  A few secrets I've unlocked for those times when the writing becomes a struggle:

* Walk away for awhile.  A break, days or even weeks, can be the perfect solution to stir up those creative juices again.

*Write out a scene in long hand. That's right, using a pen or pencil and plain old paper can work wonders.

*Met up with other writers for some fun brainstorming. (my favorite!)

Okay, break time over! Now back to my own WIP. I’m dying to find out if the Nanny is hiding something. Is she working with the bad guys or has fate just dealt her a poor hand. 

This is where I left off in the last scene:

           “Well, Miss Cooper, I think you’ve answered all my questions for now. It’s been nice talking with you.” He stood, extending his hand to her. “I’ll be in touch within the next two days. I don’t foresee any problems, but I must check references. You understand.”
Of course,” she said, laying the folder on the coffee table in front of them next to the untouched food, he’d offered and she’d declined. “I would think less of you if you didn’t. Children are our most precious gifts.” She met him eye-to-eye and smiled. “We must protect them.” An eerie distant longing flickered in the depths of her dark eyes.
Odd, he thought. Not only her reaction, but the color of her eyes at that moment. Darker now in the sunlight filtering through the blinds. He’d never seen this shade of brown before and it had him wondering about her heritage. Not that it mattered or something he felt appropriate to ask about now that the interview was over, but he wanted to know. People’s origins had always fascinated him.  He made a mental note to find out where she’d inherited these unusual eyes.
“I’ll check your references and get back with you,” he said, nodding down at the folder. “Thanks again for your time.” He led her back to the front door wondering why she hadn’t asked anymore questions of her own. Like how many children she would be responsible for or what sex they were. He filed it away under to-be-dealt-with-later. The last thing he wanted was to ruin this moment of excitement over possibly finding the perfect Nanny for Stephanie.

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Chance for Freedom" by Tess St. John

Here's one for all you Historical fans! Tess St. John will capture your heart and have you wanting more. This is the second book in the Chances Are series. I loved "Second Chances" and can't wait to read this one!
Tess was one of the first people I met when I attended my first RWA chapter meeting way back in January, 2007. I will never forget how welcome she made me feel. Taking that big step in my career and joining other writers was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Well, that and actually letting someone else read my work. LOL Tess has also been a great critique partner over the years and I must say, her insight, comments and suggestions have always been spot on, making my stories so much better in the long run.
Wishing you tons of sales, Tess!
Haunted from his years of service to The West Africa Squadron, where he endeavored to stop the trafficking of slaves, Captain Malcolm Westbourne is assigned to the disappearances of orphans in England.

Miss Katherine Ashby is thrilled when Malcolm arrives to protect her orphans, but her happiness is short-lived when he insists on an explanation of why she rejected his courtship a year ago. Katherine is falling in love with Malcolm, but must confront what happened to her as a child if she desires a future with him.

Malcolm had never experienced the instant attraction he felt when first being introduced to Katherine, but he also sees the fear in her eyes. He pursues her with kindness, humor, and patience in an attempt to gain her trust.

When Malcolm’s investigation turns deadly, he, too, must face the demons of his past. Will Katherine and he break free from the shackles binding them and learn to trust each other, or will they be held prisoner to the past forever?
Links to buy:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

In With the New, Out with the Old

2013 is off and running and I'm still trying to figure out how 2012 flew by so quickly.

It was a busy year. One with many new challenges and many new victories as well. Both in my personal life and my writing career. Most are just typical mommy accomplishments, but these are a few I'm really proud of. :)

I survived two bunion surgeries over the summer and family learned to do for themselves.
Published a short story, finished edits and published full length novel.
Sold enough copies of my first novel, Faithful Deceptions, to become PAN (Romance Writers of America's published Author Network)
Finaled in the Reader's Favorite Award contest with Target of Betrayal.
Finished NanoWriMo with a little over 50K words.
Helped middle daughter complete drivers ed and get her license.
Oldest daughter headed to Texas State in the fall.
And last but not least, got a new puppy.

I have no idea what all my goals were at the beginning of 2012. Seems I've lost my list. LOL But looking back now, I'm content.

Now to make 2013 even better!

Habits I hope to break:

Worrying so much about the kids
Trying to please everyone
Checking sales figures
Procrastinating when I should be writing
Doubting everything

That should keep me busy. LOL

Best of luck to you in the New Year!
Dare to Dream and Make it Happen!!