My Writing Journal

Shown Love at the Dentist Office

I’m putting our conversation in quotes but it’s not exactly word for word. Though it’s close.

Today, when I rose from the dentist chair and turned around there were two other hygienists waiting for me. One of them held my book, which I had left for another hygienist months ago.

One of them held Masquerading Our Love in her hands and asked, “Do you recognize this book?”

I nodded. “Yes, I wrote it.”

My mind raced. Writers have so much self-doubt haunting us, that we could be billionaires if we received one cent for every time we believed that our work is terrible. I looked at the two hygienists preparing myself for criticism.

“We read it and we need to know when is the next one coming out?”

“Yeah, what happens to the pregnant girl, Trina?” asked the other one not holding my book.

“Uhm, well I’m writing Carol and Frank’s story and I’m editing Trina and Stuart’s story.” Yikes, I’m still writing Trina’s story and don’t know exactly where it’s going.

“Well, you need to write it because we need to know!”

Are you for real? You really liked my book and are waiting to read it?

We continued talking and a short time later, the second one said, “I read the book in one day. And I love the main character’s boyfriend because he’s so romantic bringing her roses.”

She loves Christopher, Thalía’s boyfriend. I do too because he is pretty romantic and reminds me of my husband, who used to bring me a single rose every time we went on a date.

I asked them to review it and to please be honest. The first one said, that it was slow in the beginning and slightly confusing with all the characters in the first two chapters but once she hit chapter three she needed to find out what happened.

HOOKED! She said she was needed to find out what happened and in my book it means she was hooked!

Since the other two heard I was there they came to talk to me. ME!

The one holding my book gave it to my hygienist and told her to read it because it’s that good. They left and the hygienist who worked on my teeth said that she’s been hearing about this book during their lunch hour and how they’re saying that she needs to read it. She knew it was written by a patient but she didn’t realize it was me. She’s planning to read it tomorrow.

Wow!

I wish you could see the joy on my face right now. It still floors me that they both said that they needed to find out what happened next. The moment my foot hit the pavement outside the office I dialed my husband’s number to let him know.

Those two women showed me so much love that my heart can still bust open from their words and I have a huge grin on my face, hours after being home. I still can’t believe that these women loved my book.

This is so exciting because every author wants readers to like our books and when two people, who are standing in front of you are saying that they loved it, well, yes I call it showing me a whole lot of love.

A special thanks to all the hygienists at Dr. A’s dental practice. I have to return in three weeks for a filling, not so much fun, but hopefully I’ll take a photo with these women and my book.

Now I must be off to work on my books so they can know what happens to my characters!

I’m hoping someone shows you as much love as I’ve been shown today and if you can please do the same.

We all need love!

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My Writing Journal

The Reason Why I Write

reading-masquerading-our-love

In December 2008, with my children in elementary school and my husband’s job in jeopardy I prayed, followed by countless hours searching for a job. The answer to my prayer: I found the perfect job for him.

This scare prompted me in early 2009 to think about starting a business so we would be prepared when we became empty nesters, so again I prayed. I should’ve asked to grow my C.P.A. clientele, but my love for the profession, for working with numbers had diminished.

Later that year, my son wanted to read a book I thought might not be appropriate. Of course, I wanted to read it first. The love for reading I suppressed for years reawakened. I devoured teen books but switched to adult romance books because the teen romance books didn’t have enough hope in them. Reading became an addiction, worse than when I was in high school.  I gave up television months later.

In 2011, on a night too wired to sleep, I opened up my laptop to surf the Net. But instead of clicking on my email or Facebook I clicked on Word and began Masquerading Our Love.

I had no plot, no character names, nada.

It didn’t matter because my fingers flew across the keyboard at the same time the words appeared on the screen. I could clearly see these characters; they weren’t characters I tried to fit into the story developing in front of my eyes. They were real. Only  readers and writers will get this.

The following morning I showed my husband those first thirty pages. Based on reading six pages he encouraged me to continue. Despite the obligations of being a wife, a mom, and the sixty plus hours of volunteering I finished this book in three months.

The thought “Now what” ran through my head, more than once.

PUBLISH, of course. Duh, anyone?

Not having any clue, I joined critique and Facebook writing groups, as well as the Florida Writers Association (“FWA”). I spoke to agents, acquiring editors, and publishers while continuing to write more books. Based on everything I learned, and an acquiring editor informing me that although they liked my writing and my plot, the couldn’t connect with my main character, I decided to follow the self-publishing route.

After four years working on this novel and others, my close friends and my writing partners encouraged me to publish. My insecurities wanted to silence their voices but because they insisted, I prayed to win a prize in a FWA’s raffle drawing in 2015. In the middle of the crowded room, I closed my eyes and prayed.

A simple prayer: if God wanted me to publish soon then He should allow me to win something. Now I’m not lucky. Maybe I win once every five years, but when my eyes opened they focused on the first number the announcer said. No big deal as more than ten of the twenty tickets I started with it had the same number, then the second, still no big deal. For the rest of the numbers as my eyes read the next number on that one ticket, my eyes didn’t look at any other, the announcer said it. I won a free formatting, valued at $185. Yes, it was time to publish despite my insecurities. And it was time to atart telling my friends and family I hadn’t told.

After that moment I knew that I had to publish no matter how many doubts ran through my mind. From that point on, I won my cover without me remembering I had entered that contest, I won a $150 Amazon gift card, and many other prizes. These wins confirmed my writing path, pushed me forward until I finally published the paperback in October and the ebook in November 2016.

Summarizing the reason why I write: it was an answered prayer from God. And He doesn’t make mistakes.

If you’re interested in purchasing the ebook you can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble., and Kobo. It’ll be on iBooks soon.

It’ll be on sale for only $0.99 until November 15th.

Leave me a review and let me know if it impacted you. Thanks and love everyone! 

 

 

 

 

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My Writing Journal

Link to Blog Post on Advice for Writers

I love how authors help each other even through the simple action of providing advice. Casey Hays’s asked a question on the one advice we received to share with a new writer and out comes this wonderful blog post for all writers to read.

Click for Lessons from the Iceberg blog post

I’m included in there with the simple advice to “Find your own voice because no one writes like you do.”

It’s a simple sentence summarizing all the years of workshops, reading, and speaking to authors that I can impart to others. Although not one person ever said it quite that way, I know it is the one advice I could give and it ties with the meme I tweeted 0n Thursday.

Copy the leader should not not the road to sucess.

We are each special in our own way, therefore we should follow our own path to success. What worked for one successful author may not work for me or you. It’s important to learn from others and we should attempt to emulate all the amazing things they’ve done, but we can’t copy them without stepping back to see if it works…for us.

Please let me know if it helps with your own writing and continue to love and encourage others.

P.S.

You can apply this even if you aren’t a writer: There is only one you, so follow your own path to success!

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My Writing Journal

Harmful Book Reviews and Personal Attacks

On July 28th, 2014, I wrote about negative book reviews. My simple advice to my newly published author friends: use any constructive criticism and ignore the insults from their bad reviews, the hurtful words, which inflicted such emotional pain. One of them abandoned her penname and switched genres.

But almost two years later I’m back on the same topic.

Why?

Why rehash something already covered?

Because it’s important. Because it’s not only about bad book reviews, although this post will focus on them.

No, the issue is not negative reviews; it is how some reviewers write them without caring how it’ll affect the author. It’s about how people treat other people. How we interact with each other. And how reviewers hide behind their screens and feel justified to attack a person or their work.

Authors need reviews; they’re crucial for their publishing careers.

However some reviewers sling insult upon insult as though authors are not human beings, as if they don’t have any feelings. And it is immensely, utterly wrong.

Yes, WRONG! (My editor would kill me for the shouty caps, but I want to shout.) It isn’t showing respect for one another. Don’t you agree?

Many authors read every single review.

They really love the positive ones: where the reader identifies with a character, where the reader cries over a scene, where the book touches them. When readers say that the book changed them, then it’s a home run.

They dislike the negative reviews, however they understand that not everyone will like their books, but the harmful ones, well, they rip a new author apart. It can even dissuade an author from continuing to write. They may never write another word again, even if they may have better books already forming in their heads. Writers will only become great authors by writing. Just pick up the first book of an author you like and see how much they’ve grown, how you love their newest work more than their first.

The lack of sensitivity can wound the soul of any person, but more so for the vulnerable writers who share pieces of themselves in every book they write.

It’s not that a reviewer doesn’t have every right to state that they didn’t like the book and why, but they do not have the right to throw insulting words like they’re confetti at a ticker tape parade.

Because words, my friends, are powerful. They can lift a person up or push them down to the bottom of a dark, slushy pit, which is impossible to climb out of without the help of friends.

Words can build or destroy a person’s self-esteem; they can inspire or dishearten a person.

And authors spend enough time self-doubting themselves, wondering if others will enjoy that one book after slaving thousands of hours, they don’t need any help. Yes, authors spend so many hours plotting, writing, thinking, editing, re-editing, one book. And they probably spend an equal number of hours worrying about whether anyone will like it, they don’t need to read horrible words in a review. They’ve already beaten themselves up enough.

These books become their babies and when someone bashes one or them, well it creates deep rips in the authors’ hearts. When a reviewer lashes out against a book, the author’s pain is like the one a parent feels when their child is bullied.

It’d be fantastic if book reviewers remembered to focus on the book, because behind books are authors, who just exposed a part of themselves to the world. Everyone is vulnerable to negative words, especially new authors without a fan base encouraging them to continue.

A negative review won’t harm the author, if the reviewer states that the book wasn’t for them or they couldn’t connect with the main character or even that they didn’t like any of the characters. It might saddened authors that someone didn’t like their baby, but it’s much better than calling a book dumb, stating that it’s the worst book ever written, that the characters are idiots, stupid, or that the author should never write another book.

Do reviewers realize how their words affect authors?

Most likely not.

But since honest reviews are necessary for a book’s success, reviewers can use kinder, gentler words when expressing why they disliked the book. And perhaps reviewers should mention one redeeming feature, even if it’s that they loved the cover the author chose; it may just help an author not to fall apart or worse quit.

And if you’re sending a text or an email, please stop and think if your words will be hurtful or uplifting. Show your love to others by using intentional words to inspire greatness, to motivate them, even when pointing out negative issues.

Let’s love one another… always!


 

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My Writing Journal

On Flash Fiction Writing

Yesterday a tweet from Operation Awesome caught my eye. Remembering that my writing partner mentioned that participating in one helped her writing–and since she writes twice as much as I do during our sprints–I decided to give it a whirl with only theww hours left to the submission deadline.

The rules were easy, a 500 word story using the Prompt “Learning How to Walk” while attempting to incorporate some of the judge’s interest. I chose a story with a beginning/middle/ending. Four of us entered and the winner was announced this morning.

Many might think that a 500 word piece of fiction on learning to walk would be easy. Nope, it wasn’t.

Despite that the words did flow from my brain to my finger tips and I did finish the piece in less than an hour, the maximum word count restriction proved more difficult. Toward the end my focus became the cuts to accomplish the word count, tossing aside any attempt to pay too much attention to typos or repetitive phrases.

Needless to say I didn’t win, but I did learn and confirm some things about flash fiction.

The truth is that flash fiction can be fun and exciting. A thrill. It can be the catalyst for ideas to be pored out on the screen without spending too much time on subplots and characters. And, as others have said, it may help us to work on our craft and thereby strengthen our writing.

I’ll be looking for more of these contests to participate in. Hopefully I’ll become so good at them that I will win or at least increase my word count during my sprints.

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My Writing Journal

Writing Garbage or Inspiration?

Everyone encourages us to write every day so we, the unpublished writers, follow the advice of the published authors, prepare to write, and then sit at our desks ready for the juices to flow.

And we wait.

And we wait until we bang on the key board until finally the words come through our fingertips and the whiteness of the screen fills with words. We go as far as we can in one sitting and feel that elation when we produce these words on paper.

Unfortunately, more often then we care to admit, when we review our work we realize that it was so forced that 95% is garbage and only 5% can be used.

Luckily that tiny amount can be deemed inspirational merely for the reason that we got something out of the exercise.

So my fellow writers take that five percent of successful writing and run with it!

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