A Bit of Book News and My Incredible Best Friend, Why?

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged. I’m sure you’ve had those kinds of weeks, too. Where everything took a little longer than planned. And when you needed things to be finished, they kept creeping back into the picture as unresolved. I owe a handful of some tremendous people my heartfelt thanks and the greatest virtual backrubs imaginable for their help in keeping me afloat. Muddled through it, all because of you.

Some have asked me what the latest is with my book, so I thought I’d share here. At least what I’m able to at this time.

My book The Muse Unlocked is still on target for a June release. I should have a date to share in a few weeks but it’s appearing to be closer to mid-June or late-June.  And of course, a little cover reveal might be headed your way in a few weeks, as well. So stay tuned for that. I have been quite the badger to my poor publicist about it. She knows if I had my way I would blanket the skies with one now. But I am quickly learning through this process that patience is indeed a virtue.

About time I got a little of that. Heh.

I’m excited that I’ll be able to share with you so many new places that we will be able to hang out together beyond here and Twitter that are all currently in development. But I promise, I will have links for you very soon. In just a matter of weeks.

Holy cow, it really is just a matter of weeks.

<Crickets.>

I might need to go lie down for a bit. Felt a little woosy suddenly.

However, before I do,  just a reminder that tomorrow is Guest Blogger Friday and I’m so excited about this week’s guest who will bring a fresh perspective on a subject that I think will especially be of interest to other writers but hard-core readers, as well. So I look forward to sharing that charming person with you then.

I’d like to leave you with a little thought. This past month, I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to interact with other readers and writers, and in particular, I’ve been able to grow closer to some fellow scribes who I could “talk shop” with and in some rare instances, perhaps be helpful in some small way…from extending a hand to help someone pull themselves out of a creative well, encouraging others to step into a new path or simply cheering them on to grab the laptop by the USB cords and take control of their dream to write before it scurries off or runs around haphazardly and pokes someone’s eye out.

Whether you’re an aspiring writer, a published one stumbling a bit or perhaps a reader who appreciates words and has some other dream that you just — can’t — seem — to — catch! Whew — tiring stuff, that aspiration…ironic word since it does leave most of us breathless, huh? Anyway, regardless of your pursuit, the one piece of advice I have for you is

QMark

NEVER

FORGET

WHY.

Why you want to write….

I was asking this of one good writer friend last night. And it’s quite possible he was ready to block me for my persistance and inability to hold my tongue. But this “why” is the simplest for us to forget, because we let it. We allow ourselves to make excuses and let things and people become distractions that impede our forward motion. You can get busy. You can get fearful. You can even temporarily find yourself in a creative abyss, finding nothing imaginative even remotely near your grasp. But your reasons for writing, your reasons for pursuing your dream, they never go away. They might get buried, blocked, smothered but they never go away. So we must cherish them, keep them safe — keep them pure. Let them be about your love of language, your drive to speak out, your desire to inspire, amuse, entertain, educate, scintillate… CAPTIVATE. And whatever you do, never feed them after midnight. Oh wait, that’s Gremlins. But you get the point.

NEVER

FORGET

WHY.

Why you feel this need to do it…

When you stay from words for awhile because you’re too busy fulfilling your “day job” or tending to other personal needs, do you feel that loss? Are you experiencing a little guilt? Let that be less about flogging yourself for what you haven’t written and more about pushing yourself forward to write more. Excite don’t incite.  Pull don’t drag. Tickle don’t taunt. Remind yourself of all of those many reasons you chose this conduit for letting it flow in the first place.

NEVER

FORGET

WHY.

Why you interact with other writers…

Though I’m confident it’s our magical, sparkling personalities, I’m sure, there is more to it than that. We are your soundboard. We are your cheerleaders. We are your lifeline. Never forget to reach out. I’m the biggest culprit of this one myself, old Ms. Self-Sufficient over here. But sometimes, you need that other voice, you need that long, poking finger on the shoulder reminding you that you are not alone. Not really. Even when it may feel that way sometimes. When you hit a snag, don’t look in the mirror and find all of those reasons you failed, look to your informal townfolk who make up the Village of Championing You and call a town hall meeting. We’ll get to the bottom of this thing. We will. Together.

There is no better quote to leave you with than this beauty. And if you’re not a writer, don’t think you can’t apply it to the significance of your own direct pull on the Earth’s axis and all that you must do, that you were meant to do.

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~Vladimir Nabakov

Happy reading,
ck

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Cindy Kane: Remembering Mama

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. I wanted to honor mamas everywhere by featuring a clever lady I’ve just recently been introduced to by yet another clever lady, Dana Talusani aka The Kitchen Witch. And if the name rings a bell, it’s because you met Dana here last month as one of my first guest bloggers. Cindy Kane is both a published author and mommy blogger, and she would have happily shared these facts years ago. Now, however, she is excited to also tell you that she’s a stay-at-home mom. This has not always been the case, as you’ll soon read.

BadMommyMoments.jpgCindy is a delightful read, funny, observant and not above sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of mommyhood.  Her blog Bad Mommy Moments will easily coax a chuckle out of anyone who has ever faced the joy, wrath and confusion of being a parent or been on the other side of it as a child, which covers just about everybody really, doesn’t it? Although there are a few celebrities and reality stars who I’m not certain hail from human beings, but that’s another conversation for another time. Cindy’s book of the same name is a witty mixed media archive of poetry, prose and photography and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. (Click here for more information about that.)

I asked Cindy if she would mind spending a few moments with us here at my blog as part of CHRIS’S CORNER, my Friday guest blog series, and what do you know? Amid the crazy chaos that is life and in particular, parenting, she found a few minutes to sneak us in and I am most grateful!  So I will let Cindy introduce you to the sometimes magic, other times, madness that is being a mom. And to all birth moms, stepmoms (we sistahs must stick together after all!), foster moms and mamas-to-be, may I wish you a very special Mother’s Day weekend. Take it away, Cindy… 

Oh, and you can follow Cindy on Twitter here.

 

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CindyKane

In the fall of 2007, four major things happened to me at once. I gave birth to my second daughter, had to resign from my job because her daycare fell through, moved with my husband, tempestuous 3YO, newborn and golden retriever into my father-in-law’s house, and then had to take my 3YO out of daycare. I was essentially a stay-at-home mom–the job I’d feared most–at someone else’s house, and my dreams of becoming a writer were pushed so far away that I couldn’t see them anymore.

By March 2008 I was broken. And by broken I mean cranky, impatient, lonely, and consuming so many bags of Cadbury mini-eggs that my baby’s face had the texture of a starfish. Growing up, I always dealt with stress by writing, but for the first time in my life, I had neither the time nor energy for it. I didn’t even know where I’d packed away my journals. So I started a blog, which at the time I thought was like a private, online diary. I’d never blogged before, never read a blog, hadn’t even heard of blogs. I just hoped that if I wrote a little each day I’d find the bits and pieces of myself that I was positive I’d left somewhere after becoming a mom.

I wrote my first post, felt a huge sigh of accomplishment at finishing something, and the next day had a comment. Someone who understood exactly how I felt and thanked me for being funny and honest about it. I couldn’t believe it. I had no clue how she found me, or who she was, but for the first time in months I felt like I wasn’t alone.

For the next two years, I woke up every weekday morning at 4:30 and wrote until my girls got up. Some mornings I blogged, other mornings I worked on a mixed-media book I’d started after the birth of my first daughter. I still struggled with my stay-at-home mom gig, but by writing about it, and seeking the humor in it, I felt hopeful that maybe I’d find my voice amidst the chaos. Maybe my dreams of becoming a writer were possible after all.

Through blogging I learned that I was introverted and my tendency to check out wasn’t because I didn’t like my kids, or my job as their mom, I was just missing a key element for any introvert – solitude to recharge. I learned that my daughter was suffering from night terrors, not just being an obstinate control freak (like her mother) in the middle of the night (not like her mother). And I learned that if I admitted vulnerability, or a downright failure, there was always someone else to chime in and join me. Affirm me. And laugh with me.

The downside was that while I was no longer feeling alone, my priorities got tangled up between the lives of people I didn’t know in real life, and the kids I was neglecting in order to keep up with posts. Instead of handling stress in an active, positive way, I’d disappear into the dashboard of my blog and obsess over stats, views and comments and felt like less of a person on the days when certain posts didn’t do as well as others. And in my more prideful moments, I’d tell people at my daughters’ school that I was blogging because I felt the need to prove that I was doing something with my life. This of course backfired when I had to censor what I wrote because of who might be reading and what might come back to haunt my kids later.

Writing and blogging eventually took a toll on my marriage, as well. I focused so much hope on finishing my book and getting blog posts up that I always wanted to be somewhere else. Somewhere by myself so I could think and really dig into the editing. I even started sharing things without asking my husband what he thought – it was my blog, after all. And the loneliness I thought I’d combatted with blogging returned. Only now I was lonely in the middle of a house that was starting to function without me.  

So I dropped everything and got my life back in order. Detoxed off of stats, stopped reading other blogs, and went back to just writing when I got up in the morning. It took me six years to finish my book. But I completed it. And my blog is still going, but it’s not the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning.

When I started blogging five years ago I’d hoped to find myself. What I found instead was that by losing bits of who I thought I was, I freed myself from my dreams, and could live the life before me. Sure, that includes writing and blogging and storytelling. But that’s no longer what’s most important. I’m a wife, and a mother, and a homemaker, which has taken me eight years to say with pride. But I am proud. I’m one of the luckiest girls in the world.

Can Choice of POV Mean DOA?

So, I’ve hit a wall again with my reading. It happens.

Client work keeps me really busy and there’s the not-so-simple matter of finalizing the mountain of book details before publishing, preliminary marketing and mucho tasks still to do that make it nearly impossible to start a book let alone stay awake long enough to read it.

I was sooooooooo eager to read Jamie McGuire’s follow-up to Beautiful Disaster released recently. And though I started Walking Disaster around my birthday – now over a month ago – I didn’t finish it until just the other day. Because of a new practice — I say gimmick — that’s becoming more prevalent and much panned by the fans, though they may have only themselves to blame. The alternate POV.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-couple-holding-hands-image15708971Now, don’t get me wrong: of course, when I read any book in the female protagonist’s point of view, I’m slightly curious as to what that same book would sound like from the lead male character’s perspective. But be careful what you wish for. Sometimes what we think we want, we actually do not want at all. And while there may be different layers and colors to the story because it is being delivered from a totally separate and unique voice, it doesn’t change the fact that (A) the story plot points will remain the same and (B) the dialogue that features both characters is, yep, you guessed it, going to be identical, too. So, essentially, you’re hearing the same story retold. While hopes of hearing some new conversations and witnessing new revelations about said male character may be appear in the book, overall, these can be fairly scarce as in the latest McGuire follow-up. And this isn’t a slight at this author at all. Quite the contrary, I frequently cite McGuire as being very influential in my interest in the genre in the first place and she is by no means the only author to use this device.

What I question is why fans that beg and beg authors to do this then turn on them when they do? I have seen so much flak over McGuire’s sequel, people who are positively LIVID with the final results.  I am certain that the book is the result of those same fans’ loud and bubbly appeals for more Travis ‘Mad Dog’ Maddox! Folks, you wanted to hear from your book boyfriend, so there you go! You got him!

Some writers like M. Leighton (Up to Me) and J. A. Redmerski (The Edge of Never) do a fantastic job volleying back and forth from chapter to chapter representing multiple POVs while continuing to move the plot along without repetitiveness or an opportunity for boredom to set in. It is done skillfully, creatively and compellingly for the reader.

I went back and forth on choosing how I would tell my story for my upcoming book The Muse Unlocked. Initially, it was first person, present tense. Then, omniscient third person present tense and back to first-person past tense. Like a see-saw. I really struggled to make up my mind. Finally, I decided on ominiscient third person past tense.  And I’m glad that I did. The reader primarily gets an inside look into the main female character’s thoughts but there are some scenes in the book, where I do let the reader privy to what’s behind the words and actions of the lead male and I believe it was a simple case of being a reader of this beloved genre myself.

As I wrote, I kept asking myself – if it were me reading this, what would I want to know? Whose mind would I want to crawl up inside and examine more closely?

I’ve heard some authors talk about writing for genres outside their own favorite reading preferences simply because they had that one great big idea or they developed a following early and kept on feeding it. I don’t think I could do that. If I fell out of love with a style or genre, I think my heart would pull my words and stories somewhere else. I believe I would feel compelled to travel in a different direction.

Right now, this is where my heart lies and is supposed to be, and I feel fortunate that I know this. My own POV is clear as a bell. Now if only choosing it for our characters were that easy…

Happy reading!
ck

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Angela Schaefers: The Benefit of Writing My Story

It’s another Friday. Are you ready for this work week to come to a close? I certainly wouldn’t object but there is still much writing to do, much more storytelling to take place. And this week’s guest blogger here at CHRIS’S CORNER is no stranger to storytelling. I was first introduced to Angela Schaefers when I was serving as a magazine editor for a local women’s magazine. I learned of a  remarkable woman who had shared her own story of overcoming tragedies and obstacles, including being diagnosed with stage IV cancer over nine years ago.

Angela quickly discovered that by sharing her own story she could inspire others to tackle their personal challenges and begin the healing process. Angela’s message is consistent: everybody has a unique story of value. She’s translated this message into a platform  “Your Story Matters” which has prevailed across a variety of avenues  – from books to articles to social media and speaking engagements, as well as an online radio show aptly titled “Your Story Matters”. In her book Your Story Matters, You Matter, Angela has been able to reach out to others, connect and share her insight on how to learn, heal and share their story.

I asked Angela if she would stop by my blog and talk about the background behind writing her story and the benefits of going through the process, and she was kind enough to say ‘yes.’  Like Angela, I encourage people to find whatever means possible to tell their story – whether it’s through words in a private journal, a shared blog or a book, or through some other means entirely including art, music, food, fashion or another medium. When we share, we learn from each other and ourselves. Thanks, Angela, for sharing with us.

You can follow Angela on Twitter here.

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AngelaSchaefers

When I first wrote my story I felt I was only doing so for my kids, to leave them a written record of who I was and who I had become based on my past. I never knew until later how much I was writing my story for my own healing, for others’ encouragement and as part of my journey to discover my purpose. The beginning of writing our story, or any other way we capture it (art, images, etc.) is powerful as it leads to more and more self knowledge. The unfolding of our authentic selves and our lives, while unpeeling layers of memories embedded in our hearts and minds, leads to learning a great deal about oneself.

When I started to write my story, from my beginning, I was charged with this surreal energy that was stirred by wanting to remember all the details that shaped me. There were times that details I suddenly remembered made me laugh and smile, especially those experiences that instantly made sense about why I was the unique person that I am. Silly and fun loving, but unique!

And then there were the moments when I was writing and had to pause. Sometimes these pauses lasted more than a day or two. It was overwhelming at those times when I recalled parts of my story that were uncomfortable, painful and even gut wrenching. I had to take the time to catch my breath and let it all sink in. I had to allow the pain to surface. I may have wanted to stop writing my story, but I knew that my story needed to be unraveled. As time went on, I knew it should be shared.

Knowing my story, facing my truths and dealing with my feelings about it helped me to discover more about myself than I ever knew I could. It helped me to interpret where my worldview came from. It helped me to understand why I felt a certain way about things and why I  reacted and responded the way I did to various things and people.

Part of the healing process for me, that stemmed from the knowledge of my story, was learning to forgive both myself and others over painful circumstances through out my life. I was finally able to discern ‘why’ about a great deal of things and to put into perspective how my current life and my future was not based on my past. What was imparted to me from my story was all part of the process of learning and growing, yet it (the past) no longer had a grip on me.

The gift in learning from my story was the awareness that all I had been through in my life was worth it because it was all for the purpose of gaining wisdom. That enlightenment helped me to change my life for the better and when shared with others has helped many on their own journey.

Over time, I discovered that my story mattered! My story offers hope to the hopeless, encouragement and inspiration to many. I was empowered by it and am able to empower others too! This knowledge brought me to the realization that my purpose is, in part, to share my story and others’ stories, too; to incite positive connections to those similar to us and not. Sharing our stories with one another creates kinship and can  help overcome barriers to conflict and communication. What better way for each of us to do our part to change the world, for good, one story at a time!

I implore you to get your story out of your head and onto paper, on a canvas or into a media form. Learn from it, heal from it and share it!

On GoodReads? Let’s Gab!

Kindle1This one will be a shorter post today. I wanted to remind anyone who follows me to connect with me on GoodReads, as well. It’s a great little community and an awesome spot to simply start a dialogue with like-minded readers who enjoy similar books. A little birdie told me that you are likely to see me as a GoodReads author out there myself sometime in the not-so-distant future. Will keep you posted on that! For now, click here to stop by for a visit and friend me on GoodReads so we can get down and dirty talking about our favorite books. And let me tell you: I have an eclectic bunch of titles – from plays to novels, existential literature and classic fiction to young adult and my growing obsession with contemporary romance, and most recently, a new addition, some exploring of the erotica genre.

In fact, I’ve just added a few book reviews today of Cameron’s Lincoln‘s last two books in the Holiday Heat Series, TIDES OF LUST and OCEANS OF DESIRE. Cameron is going to be a guest blogger in a few weeks, and if you are a romance reader who has been looking for opportunities to stretch your reading interests in some new directions, one area that seems to be growing in popularity especially with restless romance readers is the more heat-inspired, erotic romance genre. Writers like Lincoln, Paige Thomas and Chase Boehner are starting to garner some serious attention from readers who don’t normally dip in the erotica pool.

Lately, reading in general has been a real challenge for me. I have several books on my Kindle that I pre-ordered and awaited their arrival with great frenzy and yet there they sit now, patiently waiting for me. They include BEAUTIFUL STRANGER by Christina Lauren (the second installment in that popular series) and as of this morning, THIS GIRL, the eagerly anticipated third book from Colleen Hoover (love her!!) to follow two of my absolute favorite books SLAMMED and POINT OF RETREAT.

Finding the time to steal away for a little pleasure reading has been quite a feat. In fact, I started the very eagerly awaited WALKING DISASTER by Jamie McGuire several weeks ago, follow-up to the popular and much-adored (moi included) BEAUTIFUL DISASTER.  Between my work schedule and getting my own book ready to publish, as well as the mixed reaction on my part to the sequel, it’s been slow going. I’m almost done and frankly, can’t wait to be finished. And that reaction surprises me tremendously. Hmm. To be fair, haven’t technically finished yet. You’ll just have to read my GoodReads review when I complete it to find out the ultimate verdict.

So…don’t be a stranger. Let’s shoot the breeze about our favorite authors and titles – old and new – and celebrate the geeky bookish fools that we are. *hoists large banner* Letting the book-reading freak flag fly high…WOOT WOOT!

Happy reading (oh yes, indeedy!)
ck

The Versatile Blogger Award — Moi? Cooooool…

So a lovely young woman who has a great blog called Family, Friends and Everything in Between recently surprised me by leaving a thoughtful comment on my About Author page and telling me that she had nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award.

VersatileBlogger

I was speechless.

Me, the long-winded nightmare.

It meant a lot to me but unfortunately, caught me off guard and at the time of an epic cluster-you-know-what deadline, and I wasn’t able to respond politely and graciously as I would have liked. So I apologize to her personally here for not thanking her sooner. Kristy has a smart, fun blog that brings positivity and thoughtful dialogue to the conversation.

If you have been nominated you have won the award.

So I’m following along with the “rules” of the award. (Well, kinda.) And posting below what is expected of me (sorta) as said winner.

Here’s the following rules for those that I nominate (If I always followed the rules, all of the time…) :

-Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy. (okay, did that)
-Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it. (absolutely, did that)
-Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly,  blogs or bloggers that are excellent! (okay…*getting tentative now*How about 9 instead?)
-Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site. http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/  (so now all of these people must do the same thing…hmm. That’s a lot to ask…)
-Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. (OK, I can do that)

The blogs I am nominating:

The following are in no special order but reflect an eclectic mix that I enjoy following – from family life to photography, from writing to witty observations. A quick note: I would like to have also included Stuff I Tell My Sister (http://stuffitellmysister.me/) but she was already nominated within my group, so she can’t make my list, but please check out her blog. It rocks, too!

I also want to point out that I follow a number of awesome authors’ blogs across romance, erotica, suspense and other genres. I haven’t featured any of them because frankly I wouldn’t know who to include and who to leave out. But anytime you’re looking for a suggestion in a particular genre, I hope you’ll pop by my blog and ask. I can point you in any number of fabulous directions.

Okay, back to the award stuff.

Please note that I am following the protocol of this said awesome award. (Okay, not really. I’m pretty much breaking a lot of the rules but I’m making an effort, so that’s something…).

Do with it as you will. Know that my little nod comes completely as a true fan of your work. If you’d like to pass along, do so. If not, I will not take it personally. I realize this award, while absolutely lovely and appreciated, asks a lot of its recipients, and I want to be respectful of your time. But do let me know that you did get my message of affection for the good stuff you’re putting out there for the rest of us. Deal? OK.

Here they are…

1.  A Nine Pound Hammer…or a woman like you, either of these will do  http://aninepoundhammer.com

2.  Christian Mihai http://cristianmihai.net/

3.  The Kitchen Witch http://thekitchwitch.com

4.  The Story Reading Ape http://thestoryreadingapeblog.wordpress.com/

5.  Peevish Penman http://peevishpenman.blogspot.com/

6.  The Duffel Blog http://www.duffelblog.com/

7.  Exploding Unicorn http://www.explodingunicorn.blogspot.com/

8.   Boxfotos http://boxfotos.com/

9.  The Parenting Beat http://theparentingbeat.wordpress.com

The 7 things about myself

1. My first job, besides a little babysitting, was working as a movie usher and theater concession worker. I loooooved it. Employees were allowed one free movie per day at any of the company’s area theaters. That really came in handy in the summer. This was one of the first movies I ushered, too. Damn. That was a funny movie.

BackToSchool

2. First trip to Disney World, I was 4 years old and apparently balling like a baby because I didn’t get to see Mickey Mouse walking around like I had hoped. As it is reported to me (since I was a little young to remember), we were getting ready to leave and a wandering Mickey Mouse came right up to me and got in position to pose for a photo. And I’ve got the shot to prove it.

MeAndMickey

3. I can’t do anything really interesting. No cool tricks or skills. I have one really good card trick, but that’s it. I can’t juggle, I don’t balance things on any body parts, I can’t do sleight of hand tricks, touch my nose with my tongue or roll my eyes back into my head. Hell, I can’t even whistle. I’m just a boring girl raised by midwestern parents in southwest Florida who used to like sitting in her room and dreaming up made-up characters, songs, TV shows and movies while growing up. No biggie. The only two talents I can point to at all are that I can usually identify a pop song from 1960-2000 by just hearing one or two notes and…I at one time memorized every Oscar winning movie, actor and actress and still have some remnants of this completely useless knowledge lingering behind.

4. During my lifetime, I’ve been a financial aid counselor, on-air radio news announcer, evening switchboard operator, telemarketer, graphic designer, marketing manager, receptionist, metro newspaper promotional writer, magazine editor, and my personal favorite (and, yes, I’m being my signature, smart-ass self), an inbound phone rep selling cigars of all things (READ: lifelong non-smoker…I mean, like NEVER smoked anything…EVER! So how funny is that?)

5. I got my first dog as a pet at the age of THIRTY. His name is Dexter. Happy to say he’s still with us at the ripe old age of 15. I speak of him often online, snap pictures of him to annoy the hell out of him and consider him my “assistant” since I spend more time with him on a daily basis than any other animal or human. He’s a Dachshund-Chihuahua (aka chiwienie) -long legs, long back. Overall, a freak of nature. And I love him for it. Here he is working hard on the job, as always.

MarkerBoy

6. I’m a bit of a freak of nature myself (in more ways than I could possibly list here). But I love English and math. Usually, you’re only supposed to gravitate to one, but I’ve always loved words and numbers. In fact, when I was in college, I tutored algebra and English at the same time at the campus learning center. So when I release my next steamy romance series Lust and Logarithms, well, you’ll know why…

7. I’m shy. Okay, there’s a few people that will be laughing at this last “fact” about me, but it’s true. I may not seem that way here or on Twitter. If you’ve ever gone toe to toe with the banter or double entendres (or I suppose fingertip to fingertip is  more apropos), you’ll know I can hold my own. But it’s true. I’m the biggest wallflower there is. I freak out at even the concept of attending a party where I know nobody at all. Put me at the center of attention and I might as well curl up in the fetal position right now. I’m trying to work on it, but it isn’t easy. Within smaller groups or among those who really know me well, I can let loose. But out there…in that big scary place…*gasp* Writing is a solitary life that you can so easily choose to maintain every day. We like our quiet, we like our solitude – well, some of us do. I’m sure there are exceptions, but for most of us, we’d much rather hang with the dog.

MeAndDex

Wow. What a munchkin he was then. Only a year or so after we got him. Yes, we all look much younger then.

I will say this whole experience virtually meeting others and forcing myself to come out of my little shell to talk to others and begin promoting the book is, I know, going to be a very valuable all-around experience, as I suspect it is for other shy, quiet types. So… *takes a deep inhale* I’m ready for it.

I think.

No, I am. Really.

Let’s do this thing.

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And so, there you go… my little foray into award land. Once again, thank you, Kristy, for the nod. And to anyone looking for interesting blogs, I do hope if you take away anything at all from this bizarro blog entry that you check out some of these groovy sites I suggested. I’m confident you’ll find them as interesting as I do.

Happy reading!
ck

Impressionable Words

Writers have their sources of inspiration, their muses. They have their baggage, too – who are we kidding?

Let’s face it, most of us creative types are about three steps away from rubber walls, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know this… (Imagine what it’s like for the people who have to live with us.)

We’re also the product of the many influences that built our early reading experiences and eventually, writing experiences. The authors, playwrights, poets and screenwriters who helped us sculpt our own voice.

I thought about this the other day while having a conversation with a friend…what leads us to where we are. I’m sure an athlete can look back to their first team sports experiences or winning a big game in high school, a performer can reflect on past plays or concerts and remember the first time they read Death of a Salesman or picked up  a musical instrument.

I can pinpoint little things that felt big at the time – essay contests, working for the school newspaper, the first time a paper I wrote was hung on the door of the classroom by the teacher for all to see. The very first time a teacher took the time to tell me that something I had written was well-crafted. Damn. Nothing surpasses that feeling. You’re certain you could soar to the moon. Those are fun moments, proud moments, and they were delicious days that only made me fall in love with words even more than I already did.

But where I truly fell in love with words was not behind the pen but with my head flopped over a set of pages – someone else’s words.

I remember uncovering a true passion for dialogue and falling in love with Tennessee Williams’ fiery characters and heat-drenched words at the age of 13. Letting myself get luxuriously lost amid the perplexing yet intriguing conversations of Edward Albee and Eugene Ionesco. Feeling the emotions well up inside and personalizing the character’s storylines in S.E. Hinton and Judy Blume.

TheStranger

In time, the likes of Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger and John Steinbeck left their mark on my heart. When my mind ached to think outside the box, Albert Camus and Fyodor Dostoyevsky allowed me to stretch my brain to new contemplations and more closely examine the drive and intentions behind my thoughts and actions. As I became more adventurous and seeking new sights, sounds and textures, I uncovered the strange worlds envisioned by Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and Anthony Burgess, and yes, most affectionately, Douglas Adams.

I was hooked.

And it didn’t take long.

I wasn’t moved by Ernest Hemingway like the critics. Charles Dickens simply bored me. And you could keep your Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness. Not my cup of tea. I’d much prefer to stay locked inside the pages with Joseph Heller’s Yossarian or Vladamir Nabakov’s Humbert. Well, maybe not Humbert. He can be a little creepy. Of course, at the time I read it, I was much older than what he went for — had to be at least 17 or 18 — so I suppose I would have been safe.

As I grew older, I moved into more non-fiction fodder – the satire and observations of George Carlin, Bill Maher and Al Franken – film biographies and music, TV and cinematic almanacs. Then somewhere around the age of 35 or 36, I started to want to feel again when I read. Not sure what happened exactly. Perhaps it was my own mortality reminding me to tap into those experiences that once touched me profoundly and I returned to reading fiction. Out of nowhere. I gravitated toward the moody and emotionally-driven, that brought me back to my tearful laments over Ponyboy, Sodapop and the gang.

Like much of the world, I discovered the Twilight series (haters, stand back – don’t start with me). It helped tap into something again, and to Stephenie Meyer I’ll be forever grateful. I kept on reading… the Hunger Games series, The Time Traveler’s Wife and within a matter of several years, a little series came out – Fifty something or another – and that not only brought me back to a consistent reading habit again, it led me to go forth and explore other writers. (Again, E.L. James haters, stand back — I don’t want to hear your lashing, either.) I owe her a lot, too, because it introduced me to the likes of the work of Sylvain Reynard, Colleen Hoover, Rebecca Donovan, M. Leighton, Tammara Webber, Tiffany Reisz, and so many more terrific writers.

I was again…hooked. But now, as an…ahem…slightly older me, I found myself more drawn to matters of the heart. Perhaps years of happiness and love after some serious heart ache led me to appreciate that side of me more. For years, I think I tried to hide that. Call it self-preservation. It was hard to let others in. Now, I try to stay open to beautiful things that come along. Life’s too short. Don’t want to miss anything. Aah, the wisdom of Ferris Bueller, I suppose, having its lasting effects.

Books are a beautiful place to get lost. They are also a bountiful garden that any aspiring writer tiptoes through carefully and handpicks those elements she appreciates most, that fill her heart or stir her mind. And she then plants her own little garden and hopes something magical or special might sprout.

I have a book coming out in a little over a month. It’s called The Muse Unlocked. I’m fairly certain it won’t be studied in English honors classes for years to come, and I’m fine with that. I’m just trying to tell a simple, little love story for those willing to listen. And hopefully, there will be some ribcages rattled by a series of chuckles, a mind or two stimulated and maybe a few hearts touched.

One can hope.