Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When It’s Not Your Cup of Tea

I‘m a tea drinker. A hot cup of tea can wake me up, calm me down, or offer comfort in stressful situations. There are as many tea options available as there are moods to be in. If you’re not finding one to fit your current craving, you can just create your own. It’s quite versatile.

I’m also a reader. Books can lift my mood, bring me down, offer comfort in stressful situations, and give me an acceptable barrier when I need to withdraw from my surroundings. The wonderful thing about books is that there are also infinite options out there to fit what mood you’re in. Or what mood you want to be in. Books can help with that. As abundant as books are in quantity and expanse of genre, they have one thing in common. They were written.

Just as we don’t know the story inside the book before we’ve read it, we also don’t know the story behind it for the one who has written it. It’s the same concept for anything that’s created. We hear a song, but don’t know where the songwriter is coming from. We admire a piece of art without knowing the motive behind it. We can appreciate an amazing, I mean eyes will roll back in your head amazing, crème brûlée without knowing the life story of the one who prepared it. The common thread that ties these all together is that they are created things. Someone had to put the time, effort, and work into moving these things from thoughts or ideas into substances we can physically enjoy.

I’m thankful there are people out there who are willing to share their creations with me. I have songs that have become personal anthems, I have books that are falling apart because their words are familiar destinations I can revisit as often as I need to. I especially love the friends who can bake amazing chocolate cakes and are happy to share them. **Ahem, you know who you are, and I love you.** Every time we create something we are sharing a little bit of ourselves. Honestly, that takes some courage.

Pardon me, while I wipe the drool from my chin.

So what happens when you hear a song that makes you grit your teeth, or you see art that strikes you as less than amazing, or you read a book that makes your eyes roll in an “I can’t believe this person actually wrote this” kind of way? It happens. We have a few choices. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about things you are morally opposed to. I have my boundaries for what I will read, watch, and listen to. Some words and images just don’t deserve an invitation to take up residence in my memory. But if that isn’t the case, and it is simply a matter of opinion, what do we do when we don’t like something? What happens when it isn’t our cup of tea?

We can say, “No, thank you.”

We can remember that it is still a real person behind the work. We can recognize their creativity without having to engage in it personally. We can throw that book across the room and let it sit there for a while before picking it up and passing it along to someone else who might enjoy it. (Yes, that one is personal experience.) The other thing we can also do is remember that our words are powerful. We can cut, dismantle and destroy with them. Or we can encourage, motivate, and critique with them. I don’t mean blindly tearing into as a form of critique. Constructive criticism and ripping into shreds are two entirely different things. For some reason there are folks out there now-especially in this age of social media and personal stardom- who cling to their right to say anything, and value their own opinions and words more than they do the recipient of their assaults. When it all comes down to a matter of personal opinion and preference, we all have the choice to say, “No, thank you. That’s not my cup of tea,” then go find something that is. I guarantee we'll find something we like, and if we don't we can always create our own. The world is a big place and there is more than enough tea for all of us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The New Office

We are once again entering the share circle, my friends. Embrace the closest book to you and repeat after me: I, fellow bookworm, do solemnly promise to refrain from passing judgement upon my fellow bookworm, A.C. Autry, as I see the before photos of her office. I also solemnly promise not to throw cleaning supplies, magazine clippings with organizational tips, or hoity-toity leers in her direction. I understand that she is human and had just finished writing her second book, Rise of the Seer, when these pictures were taken. I support her theory that a good writing day is more valuable than a clean desk. May I suffer the anguish of a dozen paper cuts soaked in lemon juice should a leer creep onto my face or a dust rag accidentally leave my hand and fly in her direction.*I will also purchase a million copies of each book she writes.

Thank you so much for saying that. I feel like we can now proceed into what my life was like before yellow walls. Ooops, I should have said spoiler alert there. 

Here’s some back story on the room we now call “The Office.”
Once upon a time a young family moved into the house they had waited for for seven years. It was finally a place to call their own where they could plant anything they wanted. Even corn. But that doesn’t grow well here, so they never tried.
They chose their own house plan so they could have a room dedicated solely to musical gear. It was to be “The Music Room.” The gear came in and the years passed. And more gear came in and more years passed. Then the fact that they had no garage came back to bite them in the drumstick. And the gear stopped trickling in as the need for a place to complete school projects arose. Slowly but surely, “The Music Room” morphed into “The Storage Room/Cave of Despair.”
Hark! Our aspiring author emerged from the sanctity of naptimes and snacks with Curious George to begin creating a story. The more she created, the longer she was in “The Cave of Despair.”
UNTIL ONE DAY. A vision of sunny walls and LESS STUFF filled her eyes as possibility kicked around in her imagination. They could give this sad room with the perpetually closed door the identity it had so desperately lacked. And they did. And there was great rejoicing in the land. 
The End.

My friends, I present to you “The Cave of Despair.”

As you can see, that wasn't an environment most conducive to writing or anything of a creative nature. In the beginning of the year I made a commitment to writing and have taken steps to jump in completely. I needed a space to match the vision I'm chasing. 

So after a month of chaos and throwing out so very much clutter, now I present to you (with its official title and identity), "The Office."

I'm really happy with the results for many reasons. The first reason is because in order to avoid filling this space back up with all of that junk, we had to get rid of so much stuff. It's liberating. It's also a place where we can all work now. Let the school projects resume! And the guitar playing! And the writing!

A word of caution if you are thinking of tackling a project like this for your own office. If you put up white boards, messages WILL randomly appear at any given time. I had the privilege of finding this one:

And there was great laughter and rejoicing in the land.
The End.

*I see that you are a person who is attentive to detail. That's an admirable character trait. I don't expect you to REALLY purchase a million copies of every book that I write. We can just meet in the middle here and call it a good 500,000. That works for me. How about you? Good. I'm glad we took care of this little arrangement. You're the best! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Now What?

Wednesdays are for blogging, she says.
I did write a blog last week, but it ended up growing into something bigger than what I intended. It involved superheroes and the portrayal of women in those roles. I'll post that one when I polish it up a bit more. Not that this one will be polished. Blogging is more conversational to me, so I don't have anyone else edit it before hitting that looming "Publish" button. I'm human. I use words incorrectly. Frequently. And I also rely on my spell check far more than I should. I think at some point I'll publish a post that's completely unedited, complete with all of the typos and words I inadvertently create when I'm trying to use another word. There's another post to look forward to!

I mentioned that I was able to attend a conference for writers in Austin this past February. It was really good and the content was pretty solid and informative. Something you may not know about me, (everyone scoot into the share circle), is that I have trouble being in groups of people. I was going to say large groups of people, but that's not accurate. Let's just make that a blanket statement and say that I have trouble being around others. It's not that I don't like you. I promise. It's not that I'm not interested in your story. I'm a writer. I devour stories and words. It's just that my heart beats really fast and my palms sweat and my stranger danger survival mode has been activated as soon as you begin to engage me in conversation. That's a lot going on all at once. Put me in that situation for a weekend conference and at every given opportunity I will flee into the safety of my personal bubble every. single. time. Engagement is a legitimate struggle for me.

I wanted to find a great photo to convey the safety I feel in my own personal bubble. I searched for "safety bubble" and this was the result. Not as dramatic as a frightened looking author crouching in their own bubble in a crowded room. But...this will work. Show of hands, who is touching their screen right now to try to pop these little guys?
So as I enter the writer's lair at the conference, I decide to actually talk to someone. The first lady I spoke with kept rubbing my hands because they were cold and I almost died. It was touch and go there for a while. **WARNING! BUBBLE INVASION!** After that conversation I spoke to another author and when she asked why I was there I told her I would like to find a way to turn writing into a career. And....she laughed at me. This wasn't just a snicker. It was a head thrown back in a full laugh. I set up an extra layer to my safety bubble after that.

It wasn't all how I envisioned it, but one of the things the experts kept saying was that you have to engage your audience daily. I just wanted to warn everyone now that I'm going to try to do that. I don't want to bombard you, and I certainly don't want to annoy, but I'm just trying some new tactics in the hope that one day I'll get to laugh in the face of an aspiring author. JUST KIDDING. I would never do that...unless you're telling me all about your new book and it's a comedy. Then I'm assuming laughter would be appropriate.

All of this to say I'm working on growing the community around The Ransom Series. It will be whatever it is supposed to be, but I want to make sure that I am working with all of my heart and giving my best effort. I want to have a place where we can talk about the world we've visited together. I want to provide others an opportunity to hopefully read something that will encourage them in their day. When it all comes down to it, we each need other people to walk with us on this journey. I can deactivate my bubble for a little while each day if that allows me to acknowledge the value I see in a fellow reader and bookworm. You guys mean a great deal to me and I'm looking forward to getting to know some folks a little better. It's a privilege to have just one reader. To you I say a heartfelt, thank you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March In Pictures

In like a lamb, out like a lion. That was March for me. 
It started out innocuously enough. What's more unassuming than a spinach omelette? 
Breakfast: March 4, 2015

Then it snowed and my friend Lewis made a great snowman.
World's best literary agent.

From there we went into what I refer to as "Project Month." It could also be called "Tear the House Apart and Live in Utter Chaos Month."
Zoe was ashamed to be associated with me and my mess.
To add to the madness, this happened. We're all okay, and that is the most important thing. Really. A car is a car is a car. A person is precious. All of my people are mending well.
Lotte fought an SUV.
That led to a round of rousing puns and muscle relaxers for a few days. It also kept me from wanting to sit down at a keyboard and write. Laptop=tiny T-Rex arms. So I puttered around the house and finally pulled my sweet potatoes from the pantry. Yes, they've been in there a while. Yes, it was completely intentional. This time, anyway.
They will eventually become sentient beings and take over the house if you let them go much longer than this.

And finally, the month ended with a turtle charging me and trying to make me shriek like a banshee. I didn't, and he didn't end up crawling up my pant leg like I legitimately feared for about three seconds. You guys,'s just a ruse. They've got everyone fooled. They can book it like a race car when they want to. And this one did. 
Photo credit to the one brave enough to get that close after knowing this little guy can actually reach Mach speed when it so desires. And this one did.
This was March. This is why Rise of the Seer is still in a binder on my shelf. By this time next month, it will be ready to hand off to new readers. I, unlike the turtle, needed to slow down for a bit and recharge. And I am.