Don’t Try to Save the World

smoking spiderman“Okay, Miss Save-the-World,” Leslie said, voice thick with sarcasm.

Our friends snickered and directed their gaze out of the Denny’s window beside us. I shot Leslie the finger and proceeded to cuss her out, then escorted myself out of the restaurant in a blur of humiliated tears.

Just another day in the life of young Christina.

I’ll never forget my friend’s words, and how they made me feel, though I couldn’t tell you the precise reason for them. But they angered me. On the surface, I was angry at her for saying them, but deeper than that, I was angry at myself. Ever since I could remember I had gotten in trouble at school for “not minding my own business,” and for trying to be everything to everyone. I was a people-pleaser, seeking constant validation and approval from those around me, always both the tattler, and the one instigating the rebellion. Always on both sides of the law, the fence, on both teams, afraid to upset or make enemies, I never truly fit in anywhere, had a difficult time securing any true, meaningful friendships, and pretty much irritated, annoyed, and ran off most of the friends I did manage to make.

I wasn’t a bad person. I did really care about people. I was open-minded, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, and fiercely loyal. Inside, I knew I had a good heart, and felt like I was a good person with good intentions. When I tried to “save the world,” as Leslie so poignantly put it, I thought I was doing a good thing 99% of the time. What I didn’t realize then, I realize now, twenty years later, and have finally arrived at a place where compassion for my old self has replaced the embarrassment and self-loathing.broken captain

Inside of young Christina was a whirlwind of confusion, a cyclone of emotional disaster, a hurricane of fear, a hail storm of criticism and a seriously shattered self-image. I remember from the time I was very young, looking in the mirror and crying because I was so ugly. I was too skinny. I looked like a boy. My face was flat. My boobs were too small. I had a stupid laugh. I walked funny. I wasn’t good at anything. People didn’t like me, or only pretended to. My absent biological father didn’t love me, and neither did my mother and step-father. I was a burden to them, and to the rest of the world. I was stupid, and would never amount to anything. I was eleven years old.

When I focused on helping others solve their problems, not only did I not have to think about my own, but it also gave me a temporary feeling of worth. This facade worked a lot better when my friends weren’t yet old enough to really see through it. They may have sensed something was “off” with me, but not until the teen–and even more so, the early adult–years could they really see it for what it was.

The reason Leslie’s words hurt so much, was for the first time, I realized that my friends saw my game, and I knew they probably talked shit about me/it behind my back. I was already two years into my drug and alcohol habit, dabbling in self-harm and suicidal tendencies, with already one half-assed attempt (which, admittedly, was a cry for attention from a boy), and I was wallowing knee-deep in the world of the young borderline. Unfortunately for me, it would be fourteen more years of ignorant, self-induced torture before my time for healing would begin.

Powergirl-Superhero-Photography-Cosplay-3I always knew there was a superhero inside me. She wore white and she was soft, yet strong, a peaceful warrior who could conquer anything that came her way. She was honest, caring, selfless, loving, and not afraid. She was a great friend and defender of mankind. She was loved and cherished by all who knew her.

The problem was, no one knew her.

Occasionally, the people around me would catch a glimpse of this masked girl, and all-too-often, those who I thought were my friends would see the opportunity to take advantage of what they thought was weakness. This is an unfortunate human condition, of which even the best of us have been guilty of once or twice (or more) in our lifetime, especially as young adults. When we see an opportunity to breech the hull of someone, whether out of fear, envy, pride, or just plain sick curiosity, we do. And they did. And that supergirl inside me retreated further and further, replaced by a protector, who, of my soul, created a battleground, only letting the innocent supergirl come out to play when it conveniently worked to her advantage in her game of power, control, and manipulation. “The sweet little supergirl,” she thought, “weak and stupid, used and thrown away . . . . She will no longer be in control here. From now on, I call the shots.”3841872-justice-league-dark-18-a-580-580-537e9705814090-93603481-e908e

This dark force both loved and equally loathed that innocent defender, that pure and gentle spirit who had been vulnerable one too many times. This darkness was erected as both a way to protect, and eradicate her entirely. This, in a nutshell, is Borderline Personality Disorder. (I’ll be going deeper into this disorder in future blogs.)

So, as I’m sure you can see–and perhaps even relate to– there was a war going on inside of me. This war lasted for years and years, and manifested itself in the outer wars of drug addiction and alcoholism, dysfunctional, co-dependent, and abusive relationships, loss of friends, jobs, possessions, and my children to the child protective system. One terrible choice after another, and tragedy after tragedy, the whole time, completely baffled at my afflictions. I was hopeless, and so was my condition. No matter what I did or tried, nothing seemed to shed enough light for me to see myself and my life clearly.

Until it did.

My journey through recovery has been a long, challenging, rocky road. It began on October 4, 2004, at the Magdalen House. Apparently, drawing a sober breath would be the first step in seeing things clearer. Through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, finding a Power greater than myself to fill my spiritual void, and learning to be entirely honest, as well as to quit blaming everyone else for my own problems, I began to take responsibility for my life. And though it took falling back down hard a few times, I finally came to accept my diagnosis of BPD in 2012, at which time I began treatment, as well as daily meditation. Interestingly, after fifteen years and a plethora of psych drugs which never worked, this Dialectical Behavior Therapy, along with a spiritual practice that worked for me (which was not the one I grew up with), not only healed me, but I no longer take medication of any kind. I’ve been completely sober for over three years now, and I even quit smoking cigarettes. My life as a single parent of four beautiful kids, though challenging, is a perfect miracle, and one I don’t go a day without being in grateful awe of. Most people who dive to the depths of despair I dove to, don’t ever make it back up to see the sun. And I have. And now, I can share that light and hope, with not only my children, but with the world.

maxresdefaultTo sum up, I stopped trying to save the world. The world didn’t need me to save it. I needed the world to save me. I needed to be vulnerable and ask for help. I needed to be willing to change, to find a different perspective, to trust, and to learn how to love myself, flaws and all.

I needed to let go of that dark protector who had been guarding me for years, and tell her “thank you, but you no longer serve me.” I had to unearth that innocent supergirl, the one who had been there in hiding all along, begging me to let her out. And when I did, with my permission, she removed her cape and lit a candle, placed it in my hand, then vanished.

With this light, I now see the truth. I was always good. I was just scared. I never needed to be everything to everyone to be “enough.” I just wanted you to love me. That’s it. Because then, I could love myself. But I see now, the world inside of me, with this light I shine, and it is a paradise lost, then found . . . the Love I have within me, from me, it grows with every passing, healing day, and there’s no way I can keep it all to myself. It grows and flows and spreads like wildfire throughout my life and to those around me. I stopped trying to save the world, and instead, saved myself. Only then, could I spread the magic of Love–the ultimate Savior–to the world around me.

What about you? Can you relate to this story? Please feel free to comment below, or email me at ChristinaL.Rozelle @ gmail.com (remove spaces) I’d love to hear from you, and help you in any way I can. ❤

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Play Your Violin Amidst the Madness

violin3

Well it’s that time again. 2014 has come to a close, another year has passed us by. How was it for you? Horrible? Fantastic? Just kinda meh? Best year ever?

For me, it was mostly fabulous, with sprinkles of meh, and a few jiggers of heartache.

I did an amazing thing this year. I wrote and self-published a novel while single-handedly raising four children. That, alone, is cause for celebration, right? So, why the meh and heartache?

On top of all of the loss, death, and devastation present in everyday life around us, which makes it difficult to focus on life’s beauty sometimes, I have struggled with the disenchantment of my love of writing.

This masterpiece of mine (“The Treemakers”), which has garnished such fabulous (though few) reviews, hasn’t brought my children and I out of the poorhouse (yet!), and I have been dealing with some grim realities of my existence as an indie author.

Sure, there are things I love about being an indie author, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t sell out to the first big publisher with a five or six-figure advance. Because struggling sucks. Right? I know we all struggle with different things. A lot of you can relate to mine, I’m sure. Skimping on the groceries toward the end of the month because you’re almost out of foodstamps . . . . Having to go without things so your kids don’t have to . . . . We could sit here all day and whine about how much it sucks to be poor. And bitch about why it is that people say they care about us, want the best for us, totally support us, but then won’t/don’t even buy/read our books/art/etc… Or, they read it and don’t review it/recommend it to others… (why? Do they not realize that this is the bread n’ butter of our existence as an indie author/creative person?) But none of that wallowing and complaining and whining would do us any good. It won’t make us rich, and would only be counterproductive. It would irritate those around us, and bring more negative results into our lives.

But still, I wonder about those people. A little birdie pointed out to me that some of them are perhaps just quiet souls who honestly aren’t of the reviewing/recommending-variety. And some of them are just lazy. But then . . . there are those of the hater variety. Even people you may share blood or long-term friendships with. They see you shine and it reminds them of how dull they feel, so instead of lifting you up and adding to your brightness, they shoot you down, or try to ignore you altogether. They secretly want you to fail. Your greatness makes them realize how un-great they secretly think they are.

So. What now? What to do in the dim light of the people who want us to fail? Who want our children to go without? Who secretly want us to crash and burn because they are so flipping self-centered that they can hardly see the world around them for what it truly is? Shall we lie down and die so the poor haters may feel better about their wittle selves?

HA. WE THINK NOT.

our-deepest-fear-quote (1)

I’m not a millionaire yet. I’m not even a thousandaire. Hell, I’m not even a hundredaire. But I’m not dead yet, either, and neither are you. I sure as heck don’t plan on making things any easier for me or those around me who can’t handle the light, do you? Put on some sunglasses, haters, because we’re just getting started. And hey, those who may be in need of that permission to shine, will look at us and find the strength to do so. Our strength will make them feel stronger, too.

I’ll tell you what I did once I saw “The Treemakers” plateau at a level of un-greatness (for me). . . I cried.

I cried good and hard. I died inside for a short time. I gave up writing (for a few hours) and imagined what life would be like without it (horrible). I cursed the day I ever decided to do this for the long-haul, and I wallowed in my morass of self-pity until I was so drenched in the muck that only two choices remained: give up and “die,” or take a nice hot shower, put on some fresh clothes, and do what I do best.

Stick my two middle fingers in the air . . .

and then get back to writing.

A friend and I were discussing how difficult it is to be heard in the chaos of social media land. When you have a book out, especially when you’re new, she said it can be much like standing on a runway filled with jetplanes and screaming to be heard. I thought about this for a long while. It didn’t sound like anything I wanted to do. How pointless. I thought, “why not do something that would make the pilots stop the planes and get out alongside the passengers and watch?”

This is what happened next (in my head)[you may have to skip a stupid ad first]:

No matter what life brings us, no matter what elements lie before us, we have to “play our violin” amidst the madness . . . or the calm, or the heartache, or the bliss, or the riots in our minds, or the joy, or the sorrows . . . we let our light shine on, and don’t give up.

What is that thing you do that makes you stand out, like in a good way? That’s your violin–Do that. Writing is my sweet violin, and I know if I just keep playing it, eventually, someone will hear me. They’ll see me, feel the music pouring from my soul into theirs . . . the pilots, passengers, and all the people inside the airport will gather ’round to listen when it’s my time to shine.

Same as you.

It may not be our time to shine for everyone all the time. Sometimes we may stand alone on an empty runway with no one around for miles. It’s at those times we must practice practice practice, preparing for when it’s our turn. When the world and time stop and wait, and listen. For us. It will happen if we believe, plan, practice, prepare, and continue to play our violins amidst the madness.

Believe it will happen, and make the best out of this miracle before you. Another year awaits to unfold before our eyes.

Happy New Year to you, my friends.

And no matter what, always . . .

Play on

To check out reviews or purchase “The Treemakers,” follow the links below. Thanks!
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P49KVKG
Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00P49KVKG/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22036603-the-treemakers

Don’t Water Yourself Down

It’s the home-stretch for publication of “The Treemakers,” my YA Dystopian/Sci-fi, and I’ve been super squirrelly. This is a special kind of limbo. Admittedly, yes, it is a fabulous problem to have, a complex, beautiful conglomeration of fears, hopes, and worst-case-scenarios, replaying in my mind continually. Yes, most of these fears are irrational, but being new at all of this, it’s easy to run with them, not yet having seen the actual outcome of publication. Here are a few:

What if everyone hates it?

What if I’m delusional and it’s not really as good as I think it is?

What if people are just being nice to me when they say [fill in blank]?

How will I handle bad reviews?

What happens when friends, family, and others read this story and it doesn’t meet their expectations?

What if I let everyone down?

What if I am not successful?

There are likely hundreds, if not thousands more fears writers share when faced with putting their work in the hands of the masses. For me, I’m thinking, “I labored over this for a year, scrapped 103K words and started over from scratch. I put my heart and soul, both the dark and light of me, all into this, and if it falls flat, maybe I’ll fall flat, too….”

Truth be told, there are a ton of themes/events in “The Treemakers” that can–and will, probably–make certain people uncomfortable. I’ve doubted myself over the past few days, afraid that people, particularly, ones I know personally, might raise an eyebrow and wonder WTH I was thinking. Also, it has been quite nerve-wracking waiting for word back from my advanced reader/reviewers that may never come. They may hate it. They may not even finish reading it.

BUT.

I saw this meme yesterday and it gave me an “AHA!” moment.

Don't water yourself Down

How on Earth could I ever please EVERYONE? It’s not possible. I told the story that was in me to tell, leaving out nothing, and that’s the best I could ever do. Be true to myself.

Coming from a bleak past into the light where I am today has given me a unique viewpoint from which to tell a story. This is why I enjoy writing and reading fiction that shines a light in the dark, is fearless, honest, makes me feel, provokes thought, and pushes the limits. I pull very few punches, because I believe the punches are where the magic’s at.

It’s when we are faced with life’s toughest trials that we are given the opportunity to rise above and shine brighter, and brighter, and brighter still. Yes, at times things get dark in my fictional worlds—as in reality—but there is always that inherent hope and light, urging, yearning, pushing onward.

So, no. I will not be watering myself down because others can’t handle me. I’ve seen some sh*t, have had experiences in my life others could never imagine, or have only seen in movies. I have been near-death and seen death. I’ve been dangerously close to permanently losing my children, have struggled with psychological malfunction, and addictions of all sorts. And I have overcome. (With help, of course. 😉 )

Though those themes aren’t blatant in “The Treemakers,” the quest for love, strength, freedom from bondage, the yearning to rise above and fly up from the rubble–it’s all there. I can’t help but write that, it’s what I know. It’s me. And I can’t water down or sugar coat me or my fiction out of fear that there are people out there who won’t like it.

The fact is, my life is a miracle. I should not be sitting here writing this to you right now with children watching Sunday morning cartoons in the background, and a toddler continuing to bring me random items from around the house because mommy’s at the computer and that means it’s time to bug her now. 🙂

Most people who experience the bleak past I came from lose their children, end up in prison, or dead. The number of people who actually make it out, heal, grow, get their children back, and THEN go on to be any sort of successful, is so small, it’s super sad.

That being said, of course there will be themes in my fiction that make people uncomfortable. But the gift I have to offer is that on the other side of that there will be hope, discoveries, redemption, justice, and magic. Because on the other side of even the darkest night, there is always the precious, living dawn.

So, as I wait patiently these next ten days, in hopes that my fictional baby will do well, I also have to let go and have faith. And move on to the next project. Letting go is difficult, but it has to be done. I’ve done my part.

I hope that you will not water yourself down, either. If we worry too much about what is “right” or “acceptable,” or what everyone else is doing, we are selling ourselves short. This is why I believe so many writers are unhappy in their craft. Maybe they’re afraid to dig too deep, unearthing the story inherent in their soul that begs to be told. It can be scary. It can be very uncomfortable. It can dredge up all sorts of emotional baggage. But it’s so cathartic, and extremely fulfilling, like scratching an itch that has pleaded for relief, once it is written, it is seen, heard, validated.

Be true to yourselves and your stories. Tell the story that begs to be told. Don’t worry so much about what everyone else will think or what everyone else is doing. Do your own thing. Your readership will find you, and they will love you for this. These are the things I will continue to remind myself over the next few days, as those fears try to creep in and cast shadows on this glorious moment. Because this is no easy feat. Writing and self-publishing a novel that you’ve worked on for a year is something to be proud of and excited about.

So, let’s do that. Focus on the positive.

To thine own self be true.

Until next time,

Write on! ❤

***UPDATE 11/13/15*** The Treemakers is now an Amazon Bestseller! And you can one-click it right here for currently only .99: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015DC4Q5E/

Book 2, “The Soultakers,” will release 12/3/15, and you can check out early reviews on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26206748-the-soultakers

Because I Can’t Not Do It (or… Why I Write)

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That is the short, simple answer. The question was brought to me along with the nomination to partake in a blog-hop, in which the topic is “Why I Write.” Thank you,  >Bexy McFly< , for thinking of me 🙂

When I first started brainstorming on what I thought would be a very simplistic, possibly boring blog post, I realized that in this simple question, lies the very marrow of my own existence. In contemplating the question, I once again realized how much writing means to me, and just how important it is in my life.

I’d like to do something a little different. Being a fairly new blogger (this blog will turn one year-old in December), I’ve seen some things from other bloggers whom I adore, which I would like to encompass in my own space. I’d like to make this blog more interactive, which will allow me to get to know you better, as well as allow you the opportunity to connect with other, like-minded individuals.

To start, I want to involve you in this post. After you check out Why I Write, I invite you to write your own compilation of reasons of “Why I Write” on your own blog or website and link back here in the comments below. I’m excited to see what you have to say. 🙂 You may do this at anytime–there is no time restriction on this.

So, without further ado, I present to you, ten reasons why I write:

#10. Because all the other cheap jobs were sold-out  😉

Truth be told, I suck at jobs. I don’t know how many I’ve had over the years… fifty, sixty? I lost count years ago. There were those ten years as a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (rhymes with bad tipper…?) which we won’t talk about because I wouldn’t want to spoil the future novel that will be inspired by that time. But before and after and mixed sporadically throughout those years were a plethora of other job “mishaps.” There were the hangovers early mornings (4am to be exact) at the donut shop in Worcester, MA in the dead of winter…2 weeks. There was the night shift at the gas station… I mean, who wouldn’t lock the door and sneak to the carwash to smoke a joint every morning at 4:20 am, right? Then there were the bookstores, where I met my first husband, and later, his replacement… the ice cream shop where the bathroom seemed like a nice place to “enjoy” another employee… while on the clock… Um, yeah. So, as you see… I’ve had to shop the clearance aisle on jobs for a long time.

It took years to discover a few truths: a. I had various problems that led to my plethora of job “mishaps” (which have been addressed and arrested) and b. Everything that has happened in my life up to this point has been fiction-fodder. I was always meant to write. Which brings me to…

#9. Because it’s the only thing I do really well . . . minus rocking handcuffs. (Seriously, I make them look good.) 

My entire life has been a series of broken promises and things started and not finished. High school and later, college, failed marriages, abandoned projects, dreams, plans, goals, etc. One thing that screwed me up was I always thought “just being a writer” wasn’t good enough–or the flip side of that–“I’m not good enough to just be a writer–” I spent years searching for where I fit into the grand scheme of things. And failing, always failing. Most of my life, I believed I was a failure. As a friend, a wife, a daughter, a mother… a human being in general. Writing was the only constant in my life, from the time I was fourteen years old. I have tons of journals, loaded with depressing and drunken bad writing, but there were times when those journals were literally my only friend. Writing itself saved my life more times than I can count. Because if I took my own life, then who would be left to write about it?

I once thought I was going to be a chick boxer. (Laugh it up, I have a mean left hook headed your way), except I got drunk one night and landed a DWI, a breathalyzer-refusal got me a suspended license, and I ended up in jail for a while. Long enough for me to realize I was going in the wrong direction, as I replayed over and over again what I slurred to the nice officer who escorted me to jail:

Me: “I’m a writer, ya know….”

Him: *Raises an eyebrow* *glances at me in rearview mirror* *nods*

Me: “I’m gonna write a book one day. And juss ta show you I’m *burp* I’m not pistet you fer takin me ta jail . . . .I’ll let you bein my book…”

Him: *Raises an eyebrow* *glances at me in rearview mirror* *nods*

Me: “It’s gonna be a besssellar, ya know…”

So, there you have it. Be on the lookout for a future book with Officer So and So squeezed in somewhere. 🙂

It has been a long hard dark dark road, but I see the light now and I’m standing in it, walking in it, dancing, and even singing in it. Writing is what I’m supposed to do now and forevermore. There is not a spec of doubt in my mind about this.

#8. Because if I don’t give my brain some programs to operate continuously in the background of my life, it wants to make up fictional stories and create drama in my real life

and

#7. Because if I don’t, I’ll be spending way too much time at those free government psychiatric hospitals

I honestly believe that when a highly creative person hasn’t yet figured out how to direct his creativity in a positive manner, or with the correct “hobby” (I know, I hate that word, too, sorry), or stifles it purposefully for whatever reason, then that creative energy will find other means of expressing itself. Like a dog or even a child who seeks out negative attention if they don’t receive positive, encouraging and affirmative attention, creative energy will intertwine itself around whatever it can get its hands on. Mine was in the form of attracting drama and bad relationships and codependency into my life. Only when I discovered and wholly accepted who I really was–a complete word nerd–did I begin to grow into a healthy, happy human being. Yes, it also took therapy, but after being on tons of meds for twenty years, suffering from serious depression for half my life, I am now medication-free. Let me reiterate. I am a formerly drug and alcohol addicted writer who does not drink or do drugs, or take prescription medications (prescribed to me or otherwise), and no longer even smokes cigarettes. These days, if I go too long without writing, fiction, in particular, I honestly feel like I’m going batshit crazy. For me today, writing is my medication for happy living.

#6. Because I am a closet narcissist, and love to indulge in the awesomness of my written creations

Come on, who doesn’t love to stroke their own ego by rereading a really awesome line/para/chapter/post a few times over? Granted, I’ll probably look at it in a year and think it totally SUCKS, but hey, right now, it’s the bomb!

#5. I wanted to be a rockstar, but I can’t sing worth a damn

and

#4. I also wanted to be an artist, but we all know the REAL money lies in being a writer . . . . right?WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING

I was in choir for 11 years and always loved art. I’m decent at singing and a little better at art, but only when I focused on writing did I see how they all kind of tied in together for me, especially when I decided to go indie and also do my own cover. And listening to different types of music (without words) in headphones, during different scenes, actually totally puts me there. Lately, I’ve been listening to “Invincible Radio” on Pandora. I love it because there are a lot of darker film scores that go awesome with my dystopian/sci-fi/horror debut YA novel, The Tree Makers (out this fall.) (Come on, I had to throw my plug in there 😀 )

#3. Because I get to sit on my ass all day and eat chocolate and drink coffee

Does this really need an explanation?

Can I get an Amen?

#2. Because the voices in my head tell me to

I see dead people. They talk to me and tell me to do things….

*clears throat*

What I mean is, my characters talk to me, even when I’m not writing. Or new ones come along and beg to be written. Something in my life will trigger a thought that says, “Oooh . . . he would say that,” or “She would do that. The bitch . . . .”

There’s that nagging inside me, as I’m sure is inside every storyteller that is like thousands of voices from beyond the grave, begging for their stories to be told. If it’s not we that tell their story  **GASP** then who will?

#1. . . . . See blog title

Now that I know to my core who I am and what makes me operate, I know that to withhold this gift, would not only be detrimental to my growth and wellbeing as a human and a writer, it would also be keeping my light from the world. No one can write like me. No one can put words together in just the way I do, and that is special. Same as you. We all have a way of being in the world and with our writing that only we can be. Let’s be that. Let’s not hold it back.

Let that light shine!

So, there you have it! If you haven’t already, and you’d like to read more inspiring writer crap, you may do so by clicking >HERE<

What about you? Why on Earth do you write? Speak your mind in the comments below. 🙂

 

Take care of you ❤

And Write On!

 

You can check out my books on Amazon here:

The Treemakers (YA Dystopian Scifi Romance) http://amzn.to/1H3tqFw

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure) http://amzn.to/1EoAme8

Talent will Find a Home

books magic black background light blue 1280x960 wallpaper_www.wall321.com_31“It’s always hard to break in, but talent will find a home.”

This quote from an agent at a New York literary agency was pinned to the wall in my work space forever. I often looked at it with that misty-eyed look of longing, slipping into a daydream about the day that it would happen. I’d get that email–you know the one–saying something like, “We think your story is brilliant and we wish to offer you representation, along with the promise of fortune and fame forevermore.” I remember thinking, “that’s when I’ll know that I have arrived; my writing is good enough (and so am I) . . . .”

It was months after I made the decision to go indie that I read that quote and saw what it was really saying. First off, it was telling me that this thing I love to do–writing, storytelling–has to be a struggle. Second, it was implying that the destination and key to my happiness as a writer is out there somewhere, waiting to be found.

I had an “aha” moment, ripping the paper off the wall and tossing it in the trash. Though this agent meant well, and was trying to bring hope and perseverance to struggling writers, this manner of thinking is from the Old Testament book of writing and publishing. Sure, it can be difficult to land an agent and make it “big time,” but no, the joy in writing is not anywhere but right there, in you, in me, between us and our computer screens. There, the magic is born.

When I was so worried about getting an agent, I fell into the belief that I wasn’t “good enough” until that happened. I became discouraged, disenchanted, and depressed. I cried a lot. I cursed myself with every rejection letter that came. I vowed to never write again on a few occasions. The joy and magic of writing became muted in the quest for being “good enough.”

As soon as I decided to go indie, things changed for me. A weight was lifted. A light turned on somewhere in the background, growing brighter and brighter each day. Once I began doing this for the joy and the magic of storytelling, not only did my writing improve drastically, but my life did as well. I began to see clearly the lies I had once believed; the lies of the Old Testament of writing and publishing that don’t realize they are lies–that I can’t be successful and happy unless I land an agent and get a big publisher.

The year is 2014. There are tons of ways to get my stories into the hands of readers. I don’t have to depend on anyone else to do it for me, or to wave a magic wand and grant my wish of being “good enough.” The truth is, when I am focused on the art of storytelling, telling the story the best way it can be told, and I am committed to constant improvement, and I am okay with me enough to look at my flaws humbly and be willing to make improvements where they need to be made, then I am good enough, and my story–once it is completed–will be good enough as well. Sure, there will always be people that don’t like what I write. They can go read elsewhere. And yes, the possibility of becoming super wealthy as an indie author is there, though not extremely likely. But that doesn’t mean I can’t strive for perfection, and set my sights on a prize.

Many Olympians dream of winning gold medals and never do–if their successors looked at the ratio of gold-medalists to non-gold medalists and used that as an excuse not to try their best and train like gold-medalists, we wouldn’t have any gold-medalists. And being an Olympian–like being a novelist–is a great feat no matter how you look at it. A small percentage of people who start a novel actually finish one. We can’t all be gold-medalists, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t achieved a measure of greatness already.

Don’t ever place your happiness, joy, and the inherent magic of life and storytelling into another’s hands.

Until next time writers and readers whom I love and adore, keep the amazing art of storytelling alive, and stick your middle finger in the air to anyone who tries to hold you back! ❤

UPDATE:

You can check out my books on Amazon here:

The Treemakers (YA Dystopian Scifi Horror) http://amzn.to/1H3tqFw

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure) http://amzn.to/1EoAme8

21 Reasons Why Life without Facebook is Totally Awesome

flower girl

So many things fall to the wayside when chained to Facebook for endless hours days months years. Some time away allows you to see the many ways it negatively impacts your life.

For the past two weeks, I’ve spent a total of fifteen minutes on Facebook, which is no easy feat. As you can see >HERE<, getting off for even an hour was once a near-impossibility.

If you are anything like me, you too, may be unhappy with the amount of time you waste in the vice-grip of status-updates, friend requests, and all the jingly bells and screeching whistles that go along with a life glued together at the seams with good old Facebook. Because I’ve enjoyed my break so much–I wanted to entice you to give it a try.

Here are 21 Reasons why life without Facebook is totally awesome, and why I’ll be limiting my time there to fifteen minutes, one day a week from now, until further notice. 🙂

21. Less chair ass

If you’ve experienced the torturous hell that is hours of writing, whilst fighting Facebook distraction (and losing), followed by the darkest moments of a writer’s existence–chair ass–you understand. Often times, this is accompanied by mouse-wrist and/or typing-elbow. (Yes, I am aware I just made these up, but these writer ailments should have names, shouldn’t they?)

20. More exercise

19. More time outside

18. More time with children/friends/family

First on any list of dietary restrictions should be Facebook: Serving size I’LL SLURP OUT YOUR SOUL AND SAUTEE THAT MOTHER WITH TWITTER BALLS AND PINTEREST NUTS SO JUST SIGN YOUR LIFE SAVINGS OVER TO CANDY CRUSH NOW AND CALL IT A DAY.

Last week, I walked a total of four miles. On purpose. And not just to get to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot, either. I did it because, hello, I opened my eyes to the wide world around me and decided, what the hell, I’ll go for a stroll. Destination? Starbucks. There was a venti nonfat carmel iced coffee calling my name. Funny, I didn’t hear it when I had my Facebook earmuffs on. Who knew those things were soundproof? Distance: two miles. It was a beautiful, sunny, relatively warm, late-spring Dallas, Texas afternoon. There were bugs. And noise. I perspired. I pushed my son in his stroller as he experienced the wide world around us from little toddler eyes. It was beautiful. 

It’s common sense; less time playing kissy-face with Facebook leaves room for endless possibilities of fuzzy-feeling real life stuff like being active and spending time with family and whatnot.

17. More time to write

Okay, raise your hand if you’re guilty of using “platform” as an excuse to insert Facebook into your body intravenously?

Uh-huh. *gives you evil eye*

I don’t wanna hear it. Platform shmatform. You don’t exactly need platform if you don’t have a book to sell, right? And even if you do have a book to market, think of how many more you could have if you didn’t spend so much time stroking the Zuckerburg…. I have a lot of writer friends, and not a one of them has ever gushed about how Facebook sells tons of books. If you’ll check out your top NYT bestselling authors, you will rarely find them spending hours–if any time at all–on Facebook. They do what writers are supposed to do. They write.

16. More time to do housework and other things you’ve been procrastinating

I get it, I really do. Hunting down the perfect meme-of-the-hour is way more appealing than doing the dishes. But your significant other is tired of doing them while you harvest friends on Facebook. Or your kids are tired of wearing dirty and/or wrinkled clothes because surfing meaningless status updates and filling your little brainy with mindless chatter that means ultimately jack to you and your life–seems more important to you than doing their laundry.

And shower, cuz… damn. *pinches nose*

15. More time to do other (than writing) things you love

Facebook is a drug that should come with dosage information and a warning label. And certain people should really cut it out mostly, or entirely from their life. Being a recovered drug addict/alcoholic, I have an addictive personality. I get “stuck” on stuff if I’m not careful, and then hours days months years go by and I look up and realize EVERYONE IS DEAD AND THE WORLD HAS BECOME A DESOLATE WASTELAND IN WHICH THE UNDEAD HAVE TAKEN OVER AND I MUST NOW LEARN HOW TO SHOOT A CROSSBOW LIKE DARYL DIXON AND TELL TIME BY THE SUN’S POSITION IN THE SKY AND LEARN THAT MOSS GROWS ON THE NORTH SIDE OF TREES OR WHATEVER AND ALL THAT’S LEFT TO EAT THAT HASN’T BEEN LOOTED ARE THOSE LITTLE DRIED CRAWFISH THINGYS WITH EYES THAT YOU FIND AT MEXICAN SUPERMARCADOS…

Not a good scene.

Would I rather spend my pre-apocalypse moments on Facebook, stalking Daryl Dixon (well, actually…), or doing fulfilling things that make me happy, like making cool stuff with my hands?

Tough call.

*sighs*

*stomps foot*

I guess I’ll take the art. (As long as I can watch reruns of “The Walking Dead” after.) 😀

14. You see who your true friends are

I’ve made a lot of good friends on Facebook. Almost 3,000 as of last Sunday, actually. And every other Tuesday, we get together and go bowling and then go to the spa afterwards and I catch the tab on a few rounds of those little umbrella drinkys…

Yeah.

I can count the true friends I’ve made on Facebook on two hands. From what I can tell, most of them out there are looking out for numero uno. I am but a drop in the bucket, of which may as well be a toilet. Taking a step back, I was able to see who I miss, which is a surefire way to tell who you really care about. And most of those people have my email address and some of them have even acquired the much sought-after 10 digits of happiness, and I don’t mean fingers. Some of them even call me on the… phone. *GASP!*

13. You can address your festering narcissism and get some effing humility

If no one has told you today, you are a precious little snowflake and everyone on Facebook–all of the internet and the world even–should stare at the exquisite uniqueness that is your Facebook profile. They should soak up every single status update from now, until the beginning of time, memorizing the luscious deets and “liking” every post, every comment, every picture, and every single little marvel that is your totally real, unfiltered, un-photo-shopped real life. Really.

And if they don’t…

Gah, how dare they. The nerve.

12. No Facebook drama

Does this really need explanation?

11. No Facebook trolls

*please hold while I squeeze into my ranty-panties*

There is nothing that pisses me off more than those still-living-with-momma social outcasts that have never seen the sun rise nor fall, that tell me what sort of sunscreen to put on my poochy. And worse yet, even blatantly judge me for putting the stuff on his furry be-hind in the first place. Hey, buddy, if I wanna put a gosh-dern t-back and tap shoes on my dog, that’s my own damn business and I don’t need you or anyone else to tell me how to–or not to–do it.

*tosses ranty-panties to neighbor’s poochy*

*snickers*

10. No more constant marketing

If I see your book cover one more time I’m going to hang you upside down by your toenails from the ceiling fan in my mind and flip the switch to the “on” position. Then I shall pop popcorn and set my demon puppy loose to chase you around, snapping at your hair or ears or what-have-you. And I shall laugh.

9. No more creepers/perves

In case you weren’t aware, Facebook just recently became a free dating site for the uber creeps and perves and still-living-at-home trolls. If you have never seen troll genitalia, be warned… the sight of this in an unsolicited private message has been known to cause vomiting, insomnia, loss of appetite, and in serious cases, blindness.

(NOTE: If you experience an erection that lasts for four hours or longer, well… you may be part of the problem. Seek professional help immediately. And in the meantime, please, stay the bejeezus away from Facebook.)

8. No more game requests

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of every harp in Heaven simultaneously playing Queen’s “We are the Champions,” because we have done it. We’ve won. People, ONE. Facebook game-requests, ZIP-O-ROOONIE.

7. No more clogging your mind space with unimportant crap

No, I was not aware that the African spotted muskrat is endangered. Please, post that Upworthy video all about it so that I can lose four minutes of my life learning all about them, and what I can do to ensure their future safety.

6. No more depressing selfie sessions to find that “perfect” profile pic

Of course, I have no personal experience with this one… but I had a friend once that, um…

yeah.

Next.

5. You no longer have to pretend to care about things you don’t care about

Hear that? (Isn’t it amazing how much you can hear without your Facebook earmuffs on?)

It’s the sound of 2,500 people clicking the “unfriend” button as they learn that I wish (I really do) I had enough mind-space, time, and heart, to give two squishy turds about what you ate for dinner, or how your husband wants you to get a bikini wax, or how your new Ferrari unfortunately had to go to the shop today to get the problem with the vibrating seats fixed. Because you paid extra for those  damn vibrating seats and by-God, they better vibrate on “GO.”

4. You no longer have to bite your tongue to keep from being an asshat to other asshats

If you hang out in a barber shop long enough, you’ll either get a haircut, become a barber, or try to eat that thing that looks like a candy cane because you’re hungry and you can’t take the curiosity any longer…

(Note: It does not taste like a candy cane.)

In the same manner, if you hang out on Facebook around asshats for too long, you too may start to present symptoms of asshatedness. You must ask yourself: Is it worth the risk?

3. You get a new perspective on life

This isn’t my first Facebook-free stint. I actually deleted my account three or so years ago, for a whole year. My finger hovered over the “deactivate account” button for–I shit you not–a whole hour. I sweated profusely. I pulled my hair out and I cried. I banged my fists on things and broke many pencils. Facebook had taken over my soul, and was eating my family, my life, and my sanity away at the seams like greedy little blue termites. When I finally pushed that button, I literally grieved the loss of my intangible, fabricated cyber-life, and all of the “friends” who would no longer “get to” be a part of my life.

Notice the self-righteous asshatedness (above) than soon became apparent. Once I stepped back, a week went by and I realized the sun was shining… “Whoa, when did the snow melt? What day is it? June? When the hell did summer get here? Where is my family?”

I had to integrate myself, not only back into the lives of my family–relearn their ways, their schedules, their habits, likes, dislikes–but I also had to be integrated back into society. It was serious culture shock. When you spend five or six hours a day on Facebook, you may as well be spending five or six hours a day at a dope house. Some of you may not have it this bad, but some of you can drink alcohol without it ruining your life, too. Others of you, like me, may hit a wall, where you have lost control. We are powerless over our Facebook addiction and our lives have become unmanageable. Stepping away removes a dark shroud that you didn’t even realize was there. You will experience life anew.

2.  Live life in the ever-mysterious and spontaneously beautiful now

Without the distraction of Facebook, I remember to enjoy life right now. Instead of “building that platform,” “marketing that book,” “cultivating that following,” all of which are future-oriented visions and aspirations, I can just enjoy the awesomeness that is my life right now. I can sit on my back porch and look at the sky and quiz my third-grader about what type of clouds are out today. I can play. I can breathe in deep the official first day of summer because I am experiencing it firsthand, not because I saw someone’s status update reminding me of it. I can be present in my life.

1. Freedom

Facebook is designed to hold you hostage. It is a prison without walls or bars. Sure, there are some good things therein… there are bible scriptures scrawled on prison walls, too, but that doesn’t make me want to go to prison any time soon. You?

Without Facebook to tie you down, you walk a free human. Free from ego, from narcissism, free from garbage-in garbage-out, free from the poisons there, disguised as profit, prosperity, popularity…

Without Facebook, you are free to just be. And live.

Until next time, fellow humans…

Just be. ❤

 

You can check out my books on Amazon here:

 The Treemakers (Book 1 in the Treemakers Trilogy) (Mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror)

The Soultakers (Book 2 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Seeker’s Keys (Book 3 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure novelette)

11 Rules for Being the Best Writerly Soul You Can Be

type11. Don’t be an asshat

It’s unfortunate how many of us are afflicted with this terrible disease. Asshatedness is a virus of the writing world, spreading to unsuspecting and unfortunate others, who may in turn, spew asshatedness onto others. I have been both a recipient of the side effects of this illness, as well as a host. Though I try my darndest not to let the asshat fever take over and make me do asshat things, I admit, sometimes I get delirious and lackadaisical, and forget I’m trying to not be an asshat. It can be easy to let this sickness rule your life. Beware its repercussions. Just because someone is an asshat to you, doesn’t mean it’s okay to be an asshat back to them. A few months down the road, when that sexy little book of yours comes out–and that asshat hasn’t forgotten or forgiven you for that asshat thing you did/said, watch out for that evil one-star asshat review on Amazon.

10. Support other authors

I had an author once ask me to read and review his book (which wasn’t very good), and when I read his bio on Amazon, he was knocking other authors. He said some asshat thing like, “I can only hope to rise above the sea of crappy authors using their first two initials.” Not only is he breaking rule #11, but he’s also taking a big nasty poo in the hands that feed. When you are first starting out, especially, other writers (the non-asshat ones) are there for you. We’re on the same team! We’re straddling this tightrope together and pulling each other’s wedgies out! We are like, FAM, yo! And even if you aren’t just starting out, writers are readers, too. Knock other writers and you might as well crap on your own head because you’re screwing yourself out of potential badass customers. Because what’s better than a reader? A writer-reader!

9. Get off Facebook, you addict!

“Could you hold on just a second?” (Me, to the cashier at the grocery store while checking my Facebook)

Seriously.

This could (and–UPDATE–it is, now) a whole ‘nother blog post. (Read it >HERE<)

Get the heck off Facebook! Platform shmatform!! What matters most is that you are not an asshat and you write a badass book. Facebook can be evil. I am not even sure if it’s a necessary evil for the writer yet. Or for humanity in general. Remember life before Facebook? When people actually talked, and went outside and things? Yes, I am aware everyone and their dog is on Facebook. But you wanna be a badass writer, right? Well get off Facebook and write! All right?

(ANOTHER UPDATE: Read about my leave of absence from Facebook >HERE<)

8. Read

So you wanna be a writer who doesn’t suck? Read read read read read READ. It’s important to be well-rounded in what you read and well-read if you want to write stuff worth reading. And not just in your genre, either. You write erotica? Read some classics. You write literary stuff? Read genre fic. Write children’s books? Read some erotica.

What?

It might do you some good to step into the adult realm and take a stay-cay every once in a while. *winks*

Which leads me to…

7. Take a break

Don’t burn yourself out. Though I firmly believe in following rule number one (below), there comes a time in every writer’s life when he/she must chose between throwing the laptop off of a very tall building and committing themselves to the nearest mental ward, or taking a break. It doesn’t have to be a long break. Even just a day can work wonders. Long enough for you to take a step back and see the whole picture. To remember why you write. (Here are 50 right >HERE<) To regenerate those creative juices that can dry up sometimes if we overwork the engine for too long, too hard.

6. Quit beating people over the head with your book cover

This branches off of #11. Sure, a certain amount of marketing is necessary for sales, but when you are whipping your cover out every chance you get and violating every slot you can fit it into, not only do people seriously consider calling security, but some may even sick Uncle Jeb on you for being such a violating, indecent asshat. Not everyone wants to see your cover ten times a day, whether it’s in different Facebook groups, or Twitter or whatever. People will get numb and jaded and tune you out, and unfollow or unfriend you. And they definitely won’t read your book if they feel violated and/or annoyed by it. Again I say, write an awesome book and be an awesome person (not an asshat), and you will find you will operate more on a level of attraction rather than promotion. People like people who are confident and talented, not needy, forceful, and annoyingly persistent. If you write it (and it’s fab), they will come. Keep the faith. Do the work. Keep the cover in your pants unless it’s concentual. 😉

5. For slop’s sake, quit taking yourself so damn seriously

Lighten up. Just because your book may not be doing as well as someone else’s, doesn’t mean you have to get grouchy and be a meanie. Or if your book is rockin’ and you become a self-righteous prick, a.k.a. asshat, because you are so awesome and everyone should bow to your insurmountable wordliness skills, so you turn your back on the little ants that you used to call your author friends…well that’s just uncool, man. See rule #11.

4. Take constructive criticism like a champ.

“Thank you, Sir, may I have another?”

These should be your words to most beta readers and critiquers. Yeah, sure, it can sting and you might have to rewrite. But how many authors out there are so scared to move into uncharted territory, that they cram cotton in their ears when you try to point out things they can work on? And they continue to produce work that isn’t up to par…. And do they not see their own reviews? This is baffling to me and makes me want to smoke cigarettes and contemplate existence.

How art thou so safe in thoust writing, that thou neverest hath the guts to improve? That ’tis the question.

3. Look at everything in your past, good and bad, as fiction fodder

You’ve been through some tough times, eh? Great! Use it as fuel. Put it in the book. Nothing makes all that stupid stuff we’ve done more worthwhile than turning it into an awesome book.

2. Don’t give up

Sleepless nights. Tears. Bad reviews. Plot holes. Rewrites. Endless hours in the editing cave.

I know, I’m trembling, too.

But this is where the rubber meets the road. This is how our character is molded. That’s where good books become great books, and authors become bestselling badasses.

1. And most importantly, the no-brainer is WRITE! Write every day.

The writer-mind is like any other muscle–it must be used constantly for it to be at 110%, which is where it needs to be for you to be totally awesome. Keep a “Don’t-break-the-chain” writing calendar if you are having trouble disciplining yourself. Mark a red “X” on every day that you write for at least five minutes. The truth is, once you sit down, five minutes may turn into ten, twenty, thirty, or an hour. You’ll soon find that time you thought you didn’t have to write, is in fact, there. You have to make time for what you love. Because:

“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”
― Franz Kafka

For real. There’s nothing worse than a creative person who is not being creative. Poor miserable little souls. 😦

So, to sum up:

Write the best book you can write and don’t be an asshat. The rest will fall into place.

Until next time, writerly souls…

Write on! 😀

 

UPDATE:

You can check out my books on Amazon here:

The Treemakers (YA Dystopian Scifi Romance) http://amzn.to/1H3tqFw

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure) http://amzn.to/1EoAme8