Posts Tagged ‘writer’

I have known since yesterday that I needed to take a little solace with a chocolate croissant at Starbucks. I point out the croissant instead of the coffee because, quite honestly, I drink enough coffee at home for three people. I certainly do not come to Starbucks for more caffeine. It took a good deal of maneuvering to finally make it here. By the time I did my hair was frazzled only slightly more than my mind.

Now, I am not as shy as I once was. If I see a person from my past I no longer dodge that awkward “Do we know each other?” conversation. Instead, I plunge head first into the icy waters of reconnecting. Today that dialogue went something like this. (Paraphrase warning.)

Me: “Hey! Did you go to Bangor Christian?”

Him: “Yes. I did. A while ago. Wait a minute. Oh. Hi! It took me a second to recognize you.”

Me: Filler dialogue. Then: “So, how are you? What is your wife up to?”

Insert random dialogue until we come to his question: “What are you doing for work?”

Me: “I’m writing full-time.” (Of course I don’t mention the eight hours a week I labor for my parents at the law firm because my true day job is ‘author’ not ‘chief errand runner.’ Seriously, which one sounds better? And if there is no question of honesty involved, then I will be leaving out the law office clerk title every time.)

Him: Stammering. “Like, for the newspaper? Or?”

Me: Completely unprepared to have gotten past the first thirty seconds of reconnecting dialogue. “Um… I write books.” Then, a bit more smoothly. “Living the dream. It doesn’t pay much, but, you know…” (Had to stick in the honesty there.)

Him: “That’s great!”

Me: Now feeling completely out of my depth and remembering that I, in fact, still the same girl that has run from people and friendships and conversation as much as is humanly possible… “Well, thanks for the coffee. Bye!”

To the old friend’s credit he was remarkably warm and friendly for someone who probably does not even remember my name. And to my credit, I jumped outside my comfort zone in a major way. Perhaps one day conversations like this will be so common place that they won’t be worthy of a blog mention. Until then… I leave you and return to my hermit state with my laptop and headphones.

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I am still in recovery from a night of fun and friendship. My eyes are blurry. My belongings are scattered here, there, and everywhere. And the words I write to complete today’s NaNoWriMo challenge (I am still on track, but I sacrificed my lead in order to pull off my gala) are hardly filled with any of the five senses–let alone beautiful descriptions. But, oh, was it worth it.

I dashed from one person to another in a red satin dress, spending on average 1 or 2 minutes per group. I waltzed with my cover After-Party Dancedesigner, smiled and talked to fifty people until I hardly knew what I was doing, danced with some sweet girls during the after-party, and scarfed cupcakes when almost everyone was gone. I can’t imagine the night going much better. Nearly 2/3s of the people there attended in masks and bought books. It was amazing to see all the creativity and the characters from my first series coming to life. I signed and signed books, introduced people from all facets of my life to each other, and completely lost track of five cups of lemonade. Oh, the lemonade… Sugar-rimmed goblets of beauty!

E. ReginaBy the time the night was over, we had run over our time allotment and my heels were impossible to manage. Now, this is quite a feat for Maine. I have been to weddings where guests stayed for less time. And may I just say that the people who attended were simply wonderful? All of them caring, enthusiastic, beautiful souls. Like E. Regina on the left, my fellow blogger and writer and friend. And the above-mentioned ‘sweet-girls’ from Belfast who are always sure to have a smile and a kind word to offer. Or the sole fella who deigned to hit the dance floor with us ladies. Hats off to you, Patrick.


Thanks everybody for coming out! More on the gala to follow…


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On any given day, I wake up sometime after 7:00, head to my parents’ law firm by 8:30, and work until 10:30 for them. Then my mom and switch positions. I become her boss and she my employee. For several hours we do our best to work on Rebirth Publishing and the editing of Mark of Orion. The hope is to leave my afternoons free for concentrated, independent editing/publishing work. And since, on Lyme treatment, I have about six useable hours of energy a day, this provides me with a very limited window for my work. That means we need to be focused, right?

Only, without fail, about halfway through the editing, I start to stammer. My dyslexia has me blurring words together. I am hopelessly unable to concentrate and my tension level begins to grow. What is this mysterious phenomena that plagues me? Hunger.

It’s funny how busy-life and consuming-editing can make you forget even the most basic things–like eating. So, my fellow writers, if you are hitting block one day or finding that your nerves are getting raw or that your creativity is stifling, may I make a suggestion? Check yourself to see if you have done basic things like: eating, drinking, showering, drinking coffee, and having conversations with non-fictional people. Keeping yourself in shape is the best way to keep your writing in shape.

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Lately, words have been a struggle. To blog, to speak, to hang with friends, to write, to edit (especially), to chat on the phone, to email, to Facebook, even to text. Words have not come as easily as I have been used to. It is as if only my five-year-old nephew and I have been occupying the same space in the Universe. Not to say I have not had some really great and wonderful conversations with the other people in my life–they just have not been easy.

I wish I could say that my slowed blogging pace would start to self-correct or that I would begin returning emails and phone calls more quickly or that my dialogue with humans would make sense once more. But I am not expecting a return to verbal-competency anytime soon.

What does a writer do when she forgets how to use words? Well, so far she takes three times as long editing, stops free writing altogether, and finds solace in every cup of coffee. But she also pushes herself to get better by continuing to talk to people, by sorting through thoughts, by offering fervent prayers to God, and by consistently writing. Oh, and by trying to sleep–which, so far, I have epicly failed at.

In the meantime I am grateful that my job consists of just as much business as it does writing. The business side of my brain seems to be functioning just fine. Ever so grateful that I earned this diploma!


(Fun–or not so fun?-story about the diploma. It was supposed to be mailed a couple of months ago, but it never was sent. My sister just told me that it was in the Nyack campus building that had the explosion. I find it very strange that the diploma I can now hold in my hands was nearly blown up.)

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I know this post is long, but I hope you’ll find it worth it.

I’m 21. I have three books published and a fourth in production. I have memorized 2/3s of the New Testament, made sweet friends in Indonesia, lived in South Carolina, and gone on two major book tours. I’m putting together an album for recording and dabble as a worship leader. I am the founder and leader of Rebirth Publishing, Inc. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management. I have escaped all of it without debt. And I thought I knew myself…

But since graduation I have realized just how little I actually know about myself. I know a whole lot about what I can do, but not a lot about who I really am. So, like the perfectionist student I am, I have poured the last few months into a character study–not of Pallen or Marcus or Cressa from Mark of Orion. No. This is a study of my own character. And with each new learning, I celebrate a victory that leaves me feeling a good deal more fulfilled.

First, let me say that I think labels are probably some of the worst things in the world. If you had ever tried to sum me up as ‘Lyme patient’ or ‘college student’ or ‘Christian’ or ‘publisher’ or ‘writer’ or ‘musician’ or ‘homebody’ or ‘extrovert’ you would have missed who I really am. To give you a glimpse of just how much I don’t like labels, check out this personal entry:

It is easy to believe labels are fulfilling.

 Not just the ‘popular’ label. Those of us who know better than to believe that success will fulfill us find other labels to put our stock in. Like the ‘loved’ label; the ‘happy’ label; the ‘work-a-holic’ label. After so many movies full of people finding their labels right alongside their soul-mates, we have begun to believe that if we could just find our label, our movie-moment, our montage of effective work and budding love alongside the perfect soundtrack, then we could feel fulfilled.

 Only, labels aren’t actually fulfilling.

 Not ‘hipster’ or ‘rock-star’ or ‘author’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘wife’. Labels in and out of themselves can never, ever satisfy. All they can do is make us feel bitter that we aren’t happy after attaining them or devastated that we cannot achieve them. Labels are a deadly lie.

So why does the girl who rejects labels find joy in figuring out that she is not only a perfectionist but also 1) passionate and 2) innovative? Aren’t those labels too?

To me the difference is that I can’t achieve to be an innovator. I just am. When I see a problem, my first instinct is to scrap the old system and create a new one. I can’t force myself to be passionate 100% of the time. Often I wish I could turn it off. Only, passion is part of who I am. If I offend you, believe me: it hurts me more than it ever can you. Because I care. And if I can make your day brighter, I’ll do my very bestest. Because I care with all my heart. It’s passion. I can control it, but it will forever be my default setting. And, yep, I want my new innovative system that I passionately care about to go perfectly. But those things aren’t based in what I can do or in the success of my efforts; they are based in who God made me to be. The core of who I am is not ‘author’. Perhaps you could say that I am a storyteller. Each song that I write, each book that I craft, each conversation I have revolves largely around stories. But even if I had never published a book, I would have been–I was–known as a storyteller. It is an attribute, not a label.

You see, sometimes trying to live up to the labels can be really devastating. I won’t forever be a ‘young achiever’ and, as much as I love that label, it can often do more harm than good as I achieve for achievement’s sake alone. I may not forever be ‘worship leader’ and that’s okay too. The ‘traveling artist’ day may pass; the sickness may fade; even the book writing may fizzle out. And if I all I was was an sick, book-writing, traveling artist I would be in a LOT of trouble when the day of change came.

So instead of setting my sights on a list of un-fulfilling and really frustrating labels, I want to discover who God made me to be. I’ll gladly accept the attributes that God created me with, but I am very ready to be done with the labels I set for myself or others set for me. Take heart, my friends, and revel in your uniqueness. It was designed that way by the greatest Storyteller ever, the God Who knit us together.

Psalm 139:13

13 For you created my inmost being;

   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

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Here is the picture of the purple phone I mentioned. You cannot really appreciate just how purple it is in a picture, but I have to admit that it is growing on me…

I was a writer again today and it felt good. I fell in and out of projects. From reading the Orson Scott Card book on characters, to re-reading Asandra to try to figure out exactly what I did with that story, to figuring out timeline issues in Xsardis, I have tackled a variety of important things. And I am learning from them all.

When I am super busy I do not have time to develop my craft as I would like to. I rarely try short stories because there is not time. I would never have dared to attempt a poem. But the more I write, the more I want to expand my horizons. I think I can blame the Writers’ Guild for my attempt today at a poem. Though, when I say ‘blame’ I really mean ‘thank.’ I was inspired by something today and I was able to take the time to write a poem about it. My fellow guild members had given me the courage (or maybe the shove) to attempt it. I cannot even begin to guess if it’s any good. And the big problem with poems and me is that they are so personal that I don’t want to share them. But even if no other soul ever discovers it, it was so freeing and exciting to write.

When I am working out an issue, I usually pull out my guitar and sing it out. It is cool to watch myself begin to sort things out through writing. Although this was not an issue but an appreciation of great beauty. My heart feels alive in a very new way and my poem was an attempt to capture that.

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Yesterday I got back to work. I woke up and started my day by memorizing Hebrews. Breakfast, stretching and writing for most of the day. I took my break a little early with a nap when I realized I was so tired I could not even read. I set my phone’s alarm to wake me up at 4:05 so I could get to the laundry where I was working by 4:45. I woke up at 4:28. My phone had died. And when I got in my car I had no gas. Thankfully, I still made it to work on time. I ordered a pizza from my favorite pizza place that was just next door since tomorrow I start my no-gluten, no-milk diet. Fun, fun. It was delicious!

By the time I got home, I was actually able to let my brain relax because I had worked a full day. I finished another book, watched an episode of White Collar with my mom and went to bed. Somehow I expected to be able to sleep well after such a productive day (I can’t even tell you how much hard work I got done on Xsardis!), but, of course, that was not how it worked. I feel like today is still yesterday since my sleep was more like writing than dreaming. I awoke today expecting to get nothing done with my tired mind. After memorizing Hebrews and saying a prayer for a clear mind, I was able to work on even more challenging Xsardis-material than yesterday!

With so much work done, my mom treated me to a lunch at Olive Garden complete with dessert–my second-to-last real meal for a while. I am actually beginning to look forward to changing up my diet a little… okay, changing it a lot. At least I am not allergic to strawberries! That would be tragic! I spent my morning munching on some freshly-picked ones. Yum…

I sent an email with details to my illustrator today. I organized some of the toughest spots of Xsardis. I stretched (not pleasant, by the way). I sat on my big green exercise ball to write, following doctor’s orders. (Another attempt to correct my multitude of spinal issues.) And I tried the online-music website my sister suggested. Grooveshark. Trust me; try it. Its way better than Pandora! No audible commercials; you can to pick EXACTLY what you hear; and its free!

So all in all another good day! I am so glad to get to be a writer this summer!

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Naturally I love Castle–the crime solving show following sharp female homicide detective Kate Beckett and her author tagalong Richard Castle. The creative moments of the show when Castle has his daughter duct-tape him to a chair so that his mind can stir on how to get his character out of a similar situation; the eye flashes of success as his mind spins on all new ideas; the passion and concern that only fellow authors can truly grasp. Woopee! And Beckett? An oustanding character. When we rented the first two seasons on Netflix my mom started calling me her Beckett and I have to say that I took it as a big compliment. Confidence, snazzy dressing, witty comments, sharp mind, huge heart, sorrow in the past but hope in the future. Woopee x2!

So when Becket and Castle have the moments where they play off each others sentences, each spinning the other towards the final conclusion, it feels like both sides of my brain are finally working at the same time. And when Becket and Castle fight, it feels like the (more frequent) times when they are out of synch, but somehow shooting for the same goal. I love the show!

As my writer’s block grew this semester I found more and more strategies on how to beat it. I grew considerably envious of Beckett’s white board–a massive dry-erase masterpiece with pictures and comments. For hours she would stare at the board until she saw the missing pieces suddenly fit. For hours I would attempt to draw my mini-timelines in frustration. With my coming summer job as  I writer I indulged in a few luxuries. A new set of pencils (yay!), a specially-chosen notebook (perfect for the biography notes) and a dry-erase board. I have already scratched out my ideas and thoughts, wiped them away, and begun again. Finally my Beckett board has found its way into my life. I love it!

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Authors’ chief struggle is not deadlines. It is not criticism. It is not even writer’s block, despite how I splutter about it. The biggest struggle is, in fact, a very common problem no matter what line of work you pursue: fear.

What we write is so close to our souls that our hearts threaten to break every time someone reads our work and is less than nice about it. criticism is key amongst writers. Without it we cannot get better. It is part of publishing and school and everything in between. So many people never get past the notebook-stage because they do not want to share their work. Before this is you, there are steps you should take. (For this blog I will use the example of a poet.)

Get your work out there. Start a blog where you publish your poems. Force yourself to put up two or three a week, giving you a feel for deadlines, feedback and generally understanding what publicity feels like. This also serves to get your name out there. Who knows but that you could start to have a very faithful following? A book offer might follow.

Don’t bury your blog. Sometimes authors can write their poems, post them and then forget. Don’t let this be you! Make your Facebook status that you have new poem up, add a comment on Twitter. If you are really brave, post on relevant groups’ Facebook walls about your poem.

Share your poems with friends and family. You will find that the pressure of having someone else read it will make your work better. If they offer criticism you will be doubly blessed (though it will not feel like it). Force a day to come when you can share your work with other writers, who may be in the media business or blogging. Getting your work into the hands of people in your industry (even if the poems are not perfect) is a very, very good thing. Name recognition is key.

These three suggestions are difficult and often overlooked, but they are baby steps that will keep you from losing your will to publish. Criticism is never easy. Sharing is always terrifying. Just yesterday my Rhetoric professor read a paper that I knew to be terrible and I squirmed under her perceptive eye. Soon I will begin editing Xsardis with my mother and it is going to kill me to cut out phrases and characters. Blogging even can be difficult. I erase dozens of Facebook statuses for the few I post. But letting your work out for people to see is key if you want to be a writer. Practice!

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