December 05, 2023

Should You Keep Writing or Stop?

 

Reasons Why You Should Keep Writing:

- Writing is your purpose. You don’t know what you’d do if you weren’t writing, it’s the only thing you want to do, and you hate not being able to write every day, or at least a few times a week.

- Writing is your passion. It makes you happy, it’s your main creative outlet, or your favorite hobby.

- You enjoy it. You love crafting characters, imagining worlds, and concocting stories.

- The only way you can express yourself is through writing. You use it to heal from your past, to understand your emotions, and to share parts of yourself otherwise hidden or kept secret.

- Writing is your escape. You use it to get out of your head, away from your struggles, and to leave your life temporarily.

- You’ve been writing for years—maybe ever since you were a child—and you sincerely feel that writing is in your blood. In other words, it’s who you are.

- You have stories inside you begging to be written and that you want to write.

- There are characters in your head that you love and can’t wait to write about.

- You have aspirations of being published, and you don’t want to give up on that dream.

- In your low moments, you say you want to quit, but you simply can’t. You have writing bones, muscles, blood, tears, and spit. You can’t stop being who and what you are, just as you can’t stop being human.

You may be able to come up with other reasons to keep writing. All of them are valid.


Now, I don’t like telling someone not to write, but…

Reasons Why You Should Stop Writing:

November 21, 2023

Astrology for Character Development

 

Astrology is something that not many of use when we’re creating our characters, but it can be a neat layer in your character development. Using astrology, we can learn more about our characters than ever before.

First, knowing your character’s sun sign (Aries, Leo, Pisces) can provide you valuable insight into the core of who your character is as a person, such as their ego and sense of self. All you need to know is your character’s birth month or day to calculate this, if you have a specific date in mind, or if you know a sun sign that sounds like a fun one, you can chose a birthday to coincide with that sun sign. You can research sun sign facts to understand the basics of each one to find a sign that matches your character.

November 14, 2023

My Muse Says, "Hi!"

 

In Greek mythology, there are nine goddesses (known as muses), daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences:

Calliope – Epic Poetry

Clio – History

Erato – Lyric Poetry

Euterpe – Song and Elegiac Poetry

Melpomene – Tragedy

Polyhymnia – Hymns

Terpsichore – Dance

Thalia – Comedy

Urania – Astronomy 

Usually when we think of a muse, we think of a person or a force that is the source of inspiration for a creative person. Sometimes we visualize a fairy-type creature sprinkling us with glittery star dust, which can cause people to think that the idea of a muse as silly, and they balk at the idea of needing a muse to inspire them. They will say something like, “If I waited for a muse to inspire me, I’d never write.”

To me, a muse is a manifestation of your creativity that can make you feel less lonely in the writing process. This manifestation gives you someone to greet when you open the document for your work-in-progress or pick up a pen, someone to vent to or yell at when things aren’t going right. 

When I was little, I had an imaginary friend named Ena. As the youngest in my family, and often pushed aside by my siblings, my imaginative (and lonely) mind did the only thing it could to help me to grow, nurture my creativity, and give me a companion I badly needed and craved; it invented a friend for me and only me. I didn’t have to share her with anyone, and she was always there when I needed her. My entire family knew about Ena and embraced the idea of her. They would even ask me about her like, “How is Ena?” And I would be happy to deliver a report. 

November 07, 2023

Restrictive Writing Rules

 

One of the biggest causes of writer’s block is all of the restrictive writing rules floating around out there. Many of these writing “rules” are created by other writers and editors. Most of the time, they are opinions, and writers fall for them, thinking they are law, but they are not. Usually you can tell which “rules” are opinions, like not writing sentences that start with “as” or “-ing” words (gerunds).

For Example: As she rocked the baby, she hummed under her breath.

Or: Shaking her head, she glared at him.

There is nothing wrong with those sentences. Nothing at all. They are grammatically sound. More importantly, you very well can rock a baby and hum simultaneously. You can also shake your head and glare at someone at the same time. Writing sentences like this is NOT a sign of a hack writer, as some would say (I actually saw this wording in a book for writers), which in fact is an awful thing to say. Talented, dedicated writers have sentences like this in their work. I do, and so do well-known authors.

The only time I have a problem with sentences that start with “as” or “-ing” words is if it’s impossible for a human to do the two actions mentioned at the same time.

For Example: Running upstairs, she hopped onto her bed.

Unless her bed is in the middle of the staircase, this does not work. The character would have to run up the stairs, enter her bedroom, and then hop onto her bed.

October 31, 2023

Publishing Depression

 

For years I fought to get a single thing published. I sent out query letters and received only rejections. Nothing with any substance, either, to let me know what I did wrong. During that time, I kept on writing, though, and completed four books in a series. Still nothing. Not even a shred of hope.

I always read tips from agents telling unpublished writers to build their credentials, as if we aren’t trying to, and get stories published in magazines, as if it’s easy. To this day, I still haven’t had a story published in a print magazine. Although, I must admit I haven’t tried in a very long time, but when I did, nothing. However, there’s other markets out there, such as online magazines. So, I submitted flash fiction pieces to many of them, and still got rejections. Over time, though, I managed to publish a couple of poems and a few flash fiction pieces, one of which was published in a PDF anthology and is listed on Goodreads. Those accomplishments thrilled me and gave me something to put in my bio in query letters, but rejections continued to pour in.

Close to giving up, I had an epiphany. Perhaps I needed a different story to break into the publishing industry. That was when I thought of Hurricane Crimes, and I started to write it on Christmas Day 2012. That wasn’t the end to my struggles, though. Oh no. In many ways, it was just the beginning. The beginning of the road to a lot of good, and the beginning to some of my worst days.

Below is an entry from my journal, bad writing and all. Why am I sharing it with you? Because I hope it’ll demonstrate that you’re not alone, that some of the thoughts you may be having or troubles you may be experiencing, I had, too. Also, to show you that I got past them, and so can you.

Do You Write? Then You're A Writer!


Julie & Julia is one of my favorite comfort movies. In the beginning of the film, Julie says to her husband, “You’re not a writer unless someone wants to publish you.”

Wrong.

You’re a writer if you write.

Period.

That doesn’t mean you have to be writing all the time, either.

You’re still a writer when you’re blocked.

You’re still a writer when your burned out.

You’re still a writer when you choose to take a break.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a writer is “one that writes,” which should say one “one who writes,” but you get it.

Another definition is that a writer is someone who “expresses ideas in writing.”

No matter which definition you choose, all of them say the same thing…that a writer is a person who writes.

“Published” is never mentioned.

October 27, 2023

I’m Dead / Vlog / Ghost of Death

 

Last year, I recorded this short video. I really had to pull out my acting chops for this one. This is Jolie’s monologue in the beginning of Ghost of Death. Ghost of Death is a short story that’s always $0.99!

I’m Dead


Length: 1:13


BLURB: Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost can…by stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.

Length: 35 Pages (short story eBook)

Genre: Paranormal mystery

Heat Rating: Mild (kissing)

Content Warning: strong language, murder, death

EBOOKs $0.99: Nook / Kobo / iTunes Google Play / Scribd / Amazon

REVIEW: The Story Graph / BookBub / Goodreads


QUESTION: Do you like short stories? Do you like eBooks that are just $0.99? Do you like ghost stories? Well, check out Ghost of Death! đź‘» 




October 24, 2023

Disability and Poverty Depression

 

The year 2014 was difficult for me. So much uncertainty, insecurity, sadness, and helplessness. I didn’t know what to do. I felt lost and scared. It was a time of questions: would I get approved for disability, would I be homeless, would I have food to eat? It was also a time of the worst money situation I’d ever lived through.

The below entries from my journal are personal, giving you a peek into my despair and lowest moments.


April 7th 2014,

I got a letter from social security about my [disability] case. It mentioned sending in more information to help my case, so I emailed my volunteering log, pain log, and educational transcripts to my attorney. I called her today, but she said she’d have to call me back tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully, the social security decision will be favorable or my court date will be scheduled soon. I’m scared because I’m afraid the judge will say, “No.” If the judge does, I won’t know what to do. My life is practically in his/her hands. If I get approved, my life will literally change. And for the better. That’s what I need. Otherwise, I’m going to remain stuck in my life.

Mom and I were talking about dreams, and I told her about my dreams. It’s nice talking about dreams, but afterward, it makes me feel depressed because I’m worried my dreams won’t ever come true. I hope they do…

April 9th 2014,

Yesterday I got an email from my attorney basically saying that since I don’t have medical evidence from a doctor that I can’t work that my case will be hard to prove and the judge will most likely deny it. […]

When I read her email, it felt as though my whole life crumbled at my feet. I could see all of my dreams falling from the sky. I literally felt defeated. I cried. And not the pretty kind of crying. The snot-running-from-your-nose-non-stop kind of crying.

[…]

There’s just been so much bad luck in my life recently. I really need something good, something amazing, to happen.

Happy HalloREAD!!! What I Do For Trick-Or-Treaters

 

Last year, I gave out books to trick-or-treaters. I got the idea the year before and spent all of 2022 stocking up on children’s books, middle grade, and young adult books, and I had a lot of fun doing it, too. I collected these books from library book sales, my own shelves after I’d read them, and other means.

Along with the tubs of books, I included a bucket full of goodie bags containing Halloween pencils, erasers, crayons, stickers, and more. Those supplies came from my mom’s book signing freebies. I’ll have goodie bags this year, too.

Although not pictured, I did have a bunch of plastic bags available, too, for convenience.


My 2022 HalloREAD Display for Trick-or-Treaters




35 Children’s Books



25 Middle Grade Books



13 Young Adult Books


Meet My New Scarecrow




I had a plaid, long-sleeve shirt and old men’s jeans for a scarecrow, but I’d apparently accidentally donated it or threw it out because in its place was a bag of clothes I’d meant to donate. So, I decided to make a scarecrow out of those clothes, which was a lot of fun since scarecrows are usually masculine. I gave her my “You say witch like it’s a bad thing” T-shirt, and my mom gave me the idea to make a scarecrow baby bundle when it looked like the scarecrow was missing something.

I think I need to name her. Any ideas? 

This year, I’m doing the same thing. I still have a few of these books and a bunch of “new” ones. And this year my sign will say “FREE BOOKS! Take as many as you want!” because I want to encourage everyone to take, take, take. Let’s encourage kids to read more. ❤️

I’ll share pictures of my display on my Facebook and Instagram on Halloween. Follow me there!




QUESTIONS: What should I name my scarecrow? Have you ever given books to truck-or-treaters?


October 10, 2023

Remove Trigger People

 

My depression impacted my motivation and ability to write, and it can do the same for you, especially if your depression is trigged by the people in your life.

A big factor in my depression (that started late 2016) was people in my life who brought me down. On purpose. Following family drama, which was the first rung down into the pits of depression for me, I blocked specific people from sending me Facebook messages since this was the popular mode of conversation, especially when someone wanted to start a fight or cause drama. I kept the blocks on for about six months.

I strongly suggest you do the same when you go through a tough time that involves others. Seek space from them.

In this day and age, that can be tough with social media, but it can be done. I don’t recommend unfriending them and blocking them from your social media accounts, though, as that is a bit extreme. Besides, after some time passes and things get patched up, you’d have to send that person another friend request or accept the one he/she sends you. Instead, must/unfollow that person's posts so you won’t see their updates in your feed and block them in your Facebook messenger. You can also stop them from seeing any of your future posts. However, if you want to cut all ties, unfriending is necessary when all of the above doesn’t help you to move on. I’ve had to do this.

September 26, 2023

Tish McGinnis, Medical Examiner / Character Interview


Today I'm bringing you a character interview with Tish McGinnis, a medical examiner, from Witch of Death, my short paranormal suspense eBook available for 99 cents. This was a post for my blog tour years ago that is no longer on the other blogger's site (and which I had linked to on my website...bummer), so I am sharing it here on my own blog.


Name: Tish McGinnis

Place of Employment: New Orleans Police Department

Occupation: Medical Examiner 

Actress: Meg Ryan


Chrys: Hi, Tish! Thanks for meeting me in the cafeteria. *looks at a box in Tish’s hands* What’s that?

Tish: Muffins. I brought them for you.

Chrys: Oh, that’s so sweet. Thanks! Are you ready for a quick interview?

Tish: I’m always ready.

September 19, 2023

Meet Libby, the Witch + Witches - True or False

 

There are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation out there about witches, so let’s debunk them and get some facts straight, shall we?

This was a post for my blog tour years ago that is no longer on the other blogger's site (which I had linked to on my website...bummer), so I am sharing it here on my own blog.


1. Witches fly on broomsticks at night.

False. Witches use brooms to cleanse sacred spaces and sweep away negative energy.


2. The pentagram is the sign of evil.

False. The pentagram represents the earth element and the feminine force.


3. Practical Magic isn’t just the name of a book/movie, but a type of magic.

True. Practical magick is the use of magic for practical means, such as for healing and medicinal use through herbs, tea, soap, candles, and aroma therapy.

September 12, 2023

Simone Rose, Medical Examiner / Character Interview


Today I'm bringing you a character interview with Simone Rose, a medical examiner, from Ghost of Death, my short paranormal suspense eBook available for 99 cents. This was a post for my blog tour years ago that is no longer on the other blogger's site (and which I had linked to on my website...bummer), so I am sharing it here on my own blog.


Name: Simone Rose

Place of Employment: Aurora Police Department

Occupation: Medical Examiner

Actress: Amy Lee (who is really a singer from the band Evanescence.)


Chrys: Hey, Simone. Sorry for making you come into the lobby of the department, but I didn’t exactly want to be near any dead bodies.

Simone: No worries, Chrys. But you know, they don’t bite. 

Chrys: I figured that.

Simone: Although, they sometimes burp.

Chrys: *blinks* Really? Never mind. Are you ready to answer a few questions.

Simone: Absolutely. The DB’s will keep for a few minutes.

September 05, 2023

Write What Makes You Happy & Let Others Write What Makes Them Happy


Once, on social media, I read comments between two authors who mocked Hallmark Christmas movies, and they laughed over the idea of them writing stories like that. One writer responded, “Shoot me now.” The other asked a moral quandary question that went like this: “Would you write those cheesy stories if you knew you’d be able to support your family?” The one who asked added that she would because she’s a “sellout.”

That conversation, which I did not get involved in, stuck with me.

Dialogue like that, in public settings, can put other writers down. Someone who writes sweet romances with Hallmark-like vibes may have seen that and felt ridiculed for writing stories that make them happy, and also uplifts the spirits of so many people.

Writing “cheesy stories,” Hallmark-esque stories, sweet romances, romantic-comedies is NOT selling out. 

Nor is writing erotica, a genre that has become increasing popular over the years.

What we write is personal. It’s a decision.

August 29, 2023

Flour Tortilla Pizza Recipe / Ghost of Death

 

In Ghost of Death, my short paranormal suspense eBook available for 99 cents, pizza is very significant to the story. I won’t reveal why or in what way, but because it is important, it had me thinking about the pizza I make to eat. One of my favorites is one that I make at night for a late snack. Below is the recipe for a quick and easy pizza. 

NOTE: This was a post for my blog tour years ago that is no longer on the other blogger's site (and which I had linked to on my website...bummer), so I am sharing it here on my own blog. What’s an even bigger bummer is that this wasn’t the only post no longer on another blogger’s site that I had on my website as bonus content for my books, and I lost two really good character interviews because I didn’t have them saved. *sigh* 


Flour Tortilla Pizza


Need:

Flour Tortillas

Marinara sauce

Shredded mozzarella cheese (cheddar is also good)

Pepperoni (if you want it)


Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Put a flour tortilla on a cookie sheet.

3. Spread marinara sauce of your choosing on the flour tortilla. I have used pizza and pasta sauce. Both are good.

4. Add pepperoni if you want it.

5. Sprinkle on shredded mozzarella cheese. Sometimes I didn’t have mozzarella so I used cheddar. You can even mix them.

6. Pop into oven. Keep a close eye on it because it doesn’t take long for it to get done. 5 – 10 minutes depending on how crispy you want it to get.

7. Use a knife to cut it, let cool a moment, and then enjoy!



BLURB: Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost can...by stalking the lead detective on the case. 

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.

EBOOK: Nook / Kobo / iTunes / Google Play / Scribd / Amazon







Interview with a Killer / Seismic Crimes


This was a post for my blog tour years ago that is no longer on the other blogger's site (and which I had linked to on my website...bummer), so I am sharing it here on my own blog.


This interview is coming to you from a Florida prison. I’m sitting at a table, waiting for David Buckland aka Buck to be brought in by guards. I’m a bit nervous. I only have a few minutes to ask him questions and he’s not exactly warm and fuzzy. But I don’t have any more time to think about that because here he comes.


*Buck takes a seat across from me, the guard backs away after shackling buff to the table.*

Chrys: Thanks for meeting with me.

Buck: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not like I had a real choice in the matter.

Chrys: Okay. First question . . .


1. How did you get caught up in Jackson Storm’s drug ring?

*laughs* You think I was dragged into it by Chewy? I was the one who brought him into it. The narcotics kept in the department are a gold mind. All the money! Through street contacts, I linked up with Jackson. He liked the idea of cops working for him, so I approached Chewy and a few others in the department who I knew had the same hunger for money. It didn’t take long before cops from other precincts joined us.


2. But you ran into a problem; You were caught. How did that happen?

We weren’t as careful as we should’ve been. People started to notice narcs going missing and an investigation started. We thought we covered our bases by bribing the man in charge of the evidence locker, but we were wrong…he snitched.


3. So you killed him?

Yes.


4. Just as you killed the Internal Affairs Investigator who found out—Ryan Goldwyn.

We had to kill him. He put his nose in our business. We had to get rid of him to eliminate the threat of our operation going under.


5. And yet it still went under because of his brother, Donovan. Do you have anything to say to him?

Yeah. He better look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.


BLURB: An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer's location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?

EBOOK/PRINT: Bookshop Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

Google Play / Scribd / Amazon 

AUDIOBOOK: Audible / iTunes / Amazon 






August 01, 2023

Dear Marketing Conflicted Writer

 

Dear Marketing Conflicted Writer,


Do you worry about having to sell yourself and your book?

Many writers do. For some, the fear and aversion to selling is so strong that they do nothing to promote their books, which is absolutely in their right. No one has to do what they truly don’t want to do. If promoting yourself and your books fills you with anxiety and insecurity, don’t do it. You’ll be happier for it. At the same time, you have to be okay with accepting the possible results of not promoting—fewer sales, fewer reviews.

Then there are the writers who want to promote but worry about others thinking they’ve sold out. Why? Because there are artists out there who believe marketing is a bad thing, that real artists shouldn’t stoop so low as to promote their work, that the people who do are only after fame and fortune. They say you’ve “sold out.”

July 03, 2023

Dear Writer with a Problematic Story

 

Dear Writer with a Problematic Story,


If something isn’t working, let it be.

Sometimes, no matter what we do, a story isn’t working out the way we want it to. Despite trying. Despite determination. Despite the best of intentions.

When this happens, the best thing we can do is to let it be.

Not to forget it.

Not to give up on it.

Definitely not to trash it.

June 20, 2023

Children’s Books for Pride Month

 

I’m highlighting children’s books with LGBTQIA+ rep or by LGBTQIA+ authors for Pride Month. These are harmless books that are banned or people want to be banned, which is precisely why I read them and why I’m spotlighting them on my blog. I’m grateful that my local libraries carried these. 

Read banned books!

Read books by LGBTQIA+ authors!

Read books with LGBTQIA+ representation!

Read books about gender identity to children!

Fight for these books to stay accessible to all readers!



And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson:

A cute, real story about two male penguins who chose each other and were blessed with a baby of their own to love and care for, making their family whole.



Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack:

I adored this story about a prince who knew what he wanted and found that love with a knight. And EVERYONE welcomed their love. 

June 06, 2023

Dear Perfectionist Writer

 

Dear Perfectionist Writer,


In my post “Dear Stuck Writer,” I discussed how people could say you’re blocked because you’re not willing to embrace imperfect art and how that statement is not accurate for all artists. But now I want to discuss actually seeking perfection.

Aiming for perfection in the first draft (even your final draft) can cause exhaustion and lead to burnout. It can cause your muse to cross their arms and run away. 

It is okay to write a sentence that’s two words long. Sometimes I write a sentence that’s a single word long.

It is okay to write a sentence that is subpar.

It is okay to write a wordy sentence.

It is okay to write a boring paragraph.

It is okay to write a paragraph that is two sentences long, or one sentence long.

May 02, 2023

Dear Mom, I Love You

 

My mom and me


Below is a letter I wrote to my mom for a project called Dear Mom that was turned into a book with limited availability and a play for a short time. I wrote it in 2014.


Dear Mom,

As a baby, you nurtured me. When I was born only six pounds and was rapidly losing weight, threatened with being put back into the hospital, you sweetly stuffed me with food to keep me in your arms at home. As a child, you taught me how to read and write; the very two things that have become my passion. You taught me how to smile the same smile that you have, and laugh. And yes, you taught me how to love. Quietly.

As a teenager, you nurtured me again. When I was enveloped in pain from scoliosis, lying with my face buried in my pillow, you would massage my sore back with your arthritis fingers so I could fall asleep. After the surgery to correct my spine, you took care of me every second of every day. I felt a lot of pain, shed tears, and had many bad days, but you were there for it all. 

Moving with a rod screwed into my spine was very difficult at first. Walking to the mailbox would drain my energy, but you walked with me to help me build my strength, gently pushing me to go a few steps farther each time. You slathered ointment onto my sensitive scar and even shaved my prickly legs.

Throughout my teenage years, we moved many times because we didn’t have the money to stay in one place, but you kept a roof over my head no matter what. For awhile, I didn’t have a bed to sleep on, but I always had a room to sleep in, and that is all thanks to you. You did what you had to do to keep me sheltered and to keep food in my belly, even walking to work in the blaze of Florida heat.

April 30, 2023

Z - Zzz (Naps to Heal from Depression) + BONUS

 


Napping has been proven to have many benefits, from relieving stress to improving test scores in students. By taking 20 to 30-minute naps in the middle of serious studying, students were able to retain more of what they had studied than students who didn’t take a nap.

Naps also can replenish our energy, but the key is to take a short nap. If you nap for an hour or more, you can wake up feeling more tired than when you laid down. Lying in bed, however, for 20 to 30 minutes is much more restful. All you need is a short nap to revive you for the rest of your day.

When you are suffering from depression, naps may be necessary. Many of us who suffer from depression can struggle with sleeping at night. I would lay in bed for hours, tossing and turning, while my brain yakked on and on about every topic, analyzed the day I had, and thought about the next day. By the time I finally fell asleep, my sleep wasn’t truly restful. In my dreams, I felt awake, as if I lived them.

Each day, I was extremely tired, hardly able to function. The only thing I could do was take a nap, and I did. I’d sleep for a couple of hours, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Yes, I lost a lot of time during the day, but I needed that sleep. After my nap, I’d finally be able to get work some done, and I made the most of it. I accomplished a lot, so no one knew I was experiencing depression or took long naps. No one ever saw me lagging behind, either, and I wanted to keep it that way.

If you find yourself in the same position, do not feel guilty for taking naps. You need it. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for napping, either. Tell them about your struggle and how tired you are. If they care, they will see your physical and mental exhaustion and encourage you to get some rest.

April 29, 2023

Y - To Be a Writer, You Don't Need...To Be Young + BONUS

 


Many writers start writing at a young age, but not every writer does. Some may start in college. Others may start after they’ve settled down with a family. Still, there are many writers who start later in life, during their retirement. Whatever age you get bitten by the writing bug is when you are meant to start writing. It doesn’t matter if you are a child, an adult, a parent with a job, or retired. When you get the writing spark (a spark for a story) let it burn and write.

There is no age limit to being a writer or for when someone can start writing.

My mom started writing before she married my father, but she put it aside as she had children, as many mothers do. Then, when I was about five years old (the youngest child in the family), she started to write children’s stories. She picked up writing on and off as she did all the duties of a stay-at-home mom and continued when she had part-time jobs. She wrote adult stories as well, set during the pioneer times. Finally, when we were teenagers and able to take care of ourselves, she got back in to writing full force.

No matter your age or responsibilities, writing will always find you.

April 28, 2023

X - To Be a Writer, You Don't Need...XOXO + BONUS

 


You don’t need love to be a writer...and by that, I mean you don’t need to have ever loved or been loved back by a significant other, by someone special, to write about love. You may not be in love right now, but you may write the sweetest romances. You could be a damn good romance author and have never been in a serious relationship. You could write the most realistic love scenes and have never been kissed. You could have a broken heart but write the most beautiful love stories with the best happily-ever-after endings. You may have never been and may never be married, but you could write about married characters people love and wish they knew...even wish they were.

That is the beauty of our imaginations. We can conjure things in our minds and make them real with our words. That, my friends, is the power of being a writer.

You won’t always have gone through the same things as your characters, but you can still write about them. You may not have experienced true love or love at first sight or love period, but you know your fantasies. You know your heart.

April 27, 2023

W - Write Down Your Dreams + BONUS

 


NOTE: I fell behind with visiting blogs and returning comments the past two weeks because I was having a really hard time with my grief after losing my mom last month, but yesterday I caught up with one visit each to the bloggers who had visited me during that time (if I was able to access their blog), and I will do my best to return comments each day to the end of the challenge.


I have extremely vivid dreams where I can remember every detail upon waking. Because of this, many of my dreams have inspired stories. I wake up from dreams all the time and think, “That would make a great story!”

30 Seconds came about from a dream I had where I was spinning around on a swivel chair, with rock music blaring, when a pair of hands stopped the chair, and a man in a police officer’s uniform kissed me. Hubba-hubba. Well, I thought upon waking, “How can I turn this into a story?” I stayed in bed, thinking about it and created Dr. Dani Hart and Officer Blake Herro. The dream I had is even a scene in my novella.

I have several other works-in-progress inspired by dreams, too. What I do is go backward and figure out what happened up to what I dreamt about, and I swap myself out for a female character I invent who works for the story. Or, more precisely, a female character steps forward, telling me it’s her story, not mine.

After examining the “Works-in-Progress” folder on my computer, I can tell you I have twelve stories that all came to me because of a dream. I also have a list of ideas I haven’t begun, and several of them originated from dreams.

April 26, 2023

V - Vision Board + BONUS

 


This is probably a technique that will make many people groan, but in my rock bottom period, I decided it was the perfect time to create a vision board to help me visualize what I wanted into reality.

On my vision board, which was just a white poster board, I had a picture of a house because we were nearly homeless, a picture of a car because we were carless, a picture of a stack of money because we didn’t have any, and a picture of a big digital camera because I’d always wanted one.

I looked at that vision board every night, because I had it tacked to my wall in front of my bed. I visualized those things in my life, and I sent out prayers to the Higher Powers and to the Universe to bring those things to my life in a positive way. I even chanted affirmations that I would get those things, instead of asking for it. “I will win my disability case. I will win my disability case. There’s no other option. I will win.”

April 25, 2023

U - UVB Rays (HappyLight) + BONUS

 


What is a HappyLight®? It is a therapy lamp that emits full spectrum (natural) light to mimic sunlight, which is used to increase one’s mood, energy, and focus, especially in the winter when many people go without adequate sunlight for months.

When someone is experiencing depression what is usually affected?

Mood

Energy

Focus

A HappyLight® lamp could provide someone with depression or winter blues (seasonal affective disorder or SAD) with healing daylight. It is said that a good 10-30 minutes (depending on your skin’s sensitivity) of midday sunlight several times a week, over about a third of your body (arms and legs), is what is needed to maintain healthy blood levels.

When someone has a vitamin D deficiency, they are at risk for osteoporosis, cancer, depression, muscle weakness, and in extreme cases, death.

Sunlight promotes the production of serotonin, which is responsible for all of our happy feelings, as well as melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Feeling upset/sad/lonely and not getting enough sleep are all things that someone with depression can experience.

April 24, 2023

T - Take Care of Yourself + BONUS

 


When I get stressed or am too busy with marketing my books, editing, or doing one of the many authorly things I have to do, I can neglect myself by not drinking much water, skipping breakfast, and even forgetting to eat my lunch until two or three hours past lunchtime. This is not healthy. Take it from me.

Years ago, I was so overcome with the release of my first eBook, Hurricane Crimes, that I ate, drank, and slept promo. Not an adequate form of nutrition, that’s for sure. I lost a bit of weight. One evening, I started to feel lightheaded and weak. I knew instantly it was probably because I hadn’t drunk enough water that day. Immediately, I got a bottle of water, and, while sitting in front of a fan, drank until I felt better. This was a big lesson learned for me.


Here are tips for taking care of yourself:


1. Hydrate

To maintain your brain power, you need water. Our brains are, after all, made up of about 70% water, and our bodies are 60% water. Experts say to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily to help your metabolism and stay on top of your performance. Dehydration is not good. If you suffer from dehydration, you can become very sick. Keep up your intake of water. This doesn’t have to be straight water, though. Coffee, tea, and juice count.

I like to keep a bottle of water on my desk if I need it. I also have a coaster for my cup of green tea I drink in the morning, and for my cup of decaf coffee I enjoy in the afternoon with a sweet goodie.

Which brings me to…

April 22, 2023

S - To Be a Writer, You Don't Need...a Support System at Home + BONUS

 


We all want to be supported by our family and friends. It’s only natural. But that doesn’t always happen. Many writers (and artists in general) don’t receive support from their loved ones. The people closest to them may not understand their wishes to spend their time writing for a number of reasons. The people in your life may outright ridicule your dreams or be subtler about it by not ever asking about your writing, which can cause pain, especially if you want to share it with them. They may say it’s a waste of time, not a good career move, not a reliable way to make money, that you won’t ever have the success of So-And-So, etc., etc. Over time, this naysaying can damage writers and actually push them to stop writing. Nothing is more devastating for a writer than to stop writing, for whatever reason. But to stop writing because you’re discouraged by your loved ones’ lack of support breaks my heart.

Again, we all want to be supported in our pursuits, especially if what we’re doing makes us happy and is part of our dream. When it doesn’t happen, it’s incredibly hurtful.

I have heard from writers who quit writing for this very reason and confessed that it was one of their biggest regrets. Why was it one of their biggest regrets? Because they are writers, because they love to write, and were meant to be writing the entire time they forced themselves not to do what came naturally to them. Eventually, many of them picked writing back up, but after many years had gone by.

The worst thing we can do is let the naysayers win.

April 21, 2023

R - Repeat After Me + BONUS

 


Daily affirmations are a way to train yourself in thinking positive thoughts, not negative thoughts. When you have depression, it is as easy as breathing to think cruel things about yourself, your life, those around you, your job, and the future. Beginning the day with healthy, positive affirmations can tip the scales in your favor. You’re starting off on a positive note, increasing the odds you will have a good day. If your day takes a turn, saying these affirmations can help your mind stay in a safe place. It can also calm you and remind you of what you need to know.

If depression is a daily battle for you, using affirmations each morning would be a good idea. If you go through periods of normalcy and periods of depression, as I do, using the affirmations every day during the time you are in danger of sinking into depression (or are depressed) could be a better approach for you.

While depressed and burned out and going through anxiety over my job, I used affirmations. You see, editors have a thankless job. I went through a period where editing caused me great anxiety, so I started to repeat to myself, “I am a great editor.” Over and over again. The first time I did this, I was sobbing.

April 20, 2023

Q - Quiet Social Media + BONUS

 


At a certain point, I found myself lying in bed each night, with the light off, scrolling through my Facebook feed, watching cute and funny videos of cats and dogs and other cuddly animals for an hour or more past my bedtime. Or I’d be exploring on Instagram, reading the trolling comments on celebrities’ posts. I’d get sucked in and hypnotized by the comments, reading each one that looked as if it was negative, and reading every reply to them as well.

Then in the morning, I’d tap in the code to my phone and check my email. While lying in bed. Never check your email first thing in the morning while lying in bed. This is not the way you should start the day, especially if there’s a chance you could have work emails waiting for you. There’s been times when I read an email that caused me stress or anxiety right off the bat, before I had even gotten out of bed. I’d start my day on the wrong foot. This is not how you want to begin.

During the day, I’d continue to check my phone constantly to see what notifications may be waiting for me, mostly emails. Every time I passed my phone on the counter, I’d pause to tap the Home button. Always. I couldn’t walk past it to my intended destination. If I attempted to, I’d pause, backtrack, and tap. If I restrained myself, when I passed by my phone again a moment later, I’d cave in then. Pause. Tap.

I started to notice these nasty habits and longed for the days of the flip phone that didn’t have social media apps.

Confession: I now have an old-fashioned flip phone.

April 19, 2023

P - Plot It Out (Writer's Block) + BONUS

 


Pantsing, sorry to say, can slow your progress if you don’t know what to write next, and it can surely be a reason for writer’s block. You have to know what you need to write next in order to continue your project. If you don’t have an idea, you’ll be stuck. You won’t write. You’ll struggle with figuring out where you need to go in the story. If that happens, you won’t be able to make any progress whatsoever.

I recommend attempting to plot out your book. Or be a plantser, a hybrid of the two. You could try planning out a few chapters ahead of where you are at the time. When you start to write the third chapter you had previously plotted out, begin plotting the next three. This way, you have the freedom of pantsing but with a plan, and you can still change things as you go.

At the very least, at the end of a writing session, plot out where you will start the next day, what will happen immediately after where you left off, and know a little bit of where you’ll be going in order to write a decent amount of words. This will help you get back in to your story faster and provide a clear map of where you need to go.

April 18, 2023

O - To Be a Writer, You Don't Need...an Office or a Desk + BONUS

 


Sure, having an office and/or desk can make you feel like a writer, but you don’t need one to be a writer or to write. In my old apartment, my desk, which I bought for a few bucks at a garage sale, sat wedged in a corner of my living room beside my couch. I used that desk for a long time. Although it’s not my current desk, I still have it. Sort of. I gave it to my mom to use for her desk. The desk I have now I bought from a thrift store. It’s glass and metal with three tiers off to the side where I can set books, notebooks, and decorations. This desk occupied my bedroom for a couple of years in a section I playfully considered “my office.”

I envy those writers who have an entire room they can transform into an office or those who rent an office space, but I can’t do that. Not all of us can.

Embracing the space we have is important. We can write anywhere—on the couch, in bed, at the kitchen table/counter, in the bathtub, in the car. We can even go out to write (library, bookstore, the beach, the park). My mom would write on the bus during her commute to and from work. She still says that period was her most productive writing time since she didn’t have anything better to do on the bus.

April 17, 2023

N - Nature to Beat Depression + BONUS

 


Mothers nurture. The biggest nurturer of them all is Mother Nature.

Nature is healing.

Sunlight is good for vitamin D. Fresh air is cleansing. Plants, flowers, and trees are not only beautiful but essential to living healthy lives—from providing necessary oxygen to giving us nutrients when we consume them, which keep us from becoming sick and weak.

When someone is dealing with depression, they often don’t want to leave the house and don’t consider the benefits of being around nature, but I found nature to be one of the best remedies to my depression.

During my worst depression, springtime came quickly. I’ve always enjoyed gardening, even just weeding and adding fresh mulch to my flower beds. Pulling weeds is actually quite symbolic. While I removed unwanted plants, I equated them as the things in my life that I did not want, that were not supposed to be there—the drama, the pain, the suffering, the depression. When we remove weeds from soil, we make that soil better, richer, giving flowers room to grow. Upon expunging the things in our lives we wish to be done with, we, in turn, become better, richer, and allow ourselves room to grow.

April 15, 2023

M - To Be a Writer, You Don't Need...Money + BONUS

 


There have been many writers who were poor or struggling financially due to job loss, disability, or being a single parent who went on to finish writing their books. They also published their books and made a name for themselves.

How much money you have in your bank account doesn’t reflect how good or bad of a writer you are. Make your writing valuable.

I’ve had just a few dollars in my bank account and didn’t know where more money would be coming from. I’ve worried over how I’d feed myself and those I supported. I didn’t even have food for my cats at times. (Don’t worry—I gave them what little healthy food they could eat from my own provisions. They never went hungry.) I’ve feared not being able to pay rent and wondered where I’d be living in a matter of weeks. During those hard times, I continued to write.

Even while deep in stress and depression and fear, I wrote. I had to. It was the only thing that let me escape my troubles, made me happy. Sure, having money would’ve taken away my worries. Sure, having money would’ve been grand; no one wants to be poor. I don’t care how much movies and fiction romanticize being poor, it’s hard. The stories of famous individuals who came from nothing and made it big only romanticize it more, but believe me, it takes a lot. Those people got to be where they are now through hard work, determination, courage, talent, timing, and maybe even a smidge of luck. What it doesn’t take is money.

April 14, 2023

L - To Be a Writer, You Don't Need...a Laptop + BONUS

 


Usually when we imagine writers at work, we see them plucking away at a laptop in a coffee shop or in a dusty room or at their kitchen table, deep in their story. But owning or using a laptop doesn’t make you a writer. Writing with any writing utensil/device makes you a writer.

When I started writing seriously, I wrote by hand, filling up dozens of notebooks with three books in a series. After I would finish one book, I’d have a blast typing that story up, day after day, using my family’s only computer, which we had because my mom (fortunately) inherited money and bought it. Gosh, that was so much fun. I would rock out to music while reliving the story I wrote over the course of a year or more. That was one of the times when I truly felt like a writer.

I didn’t even own my first laptop until 2015. Yes, really.

Before then I’d been using that very same computer my mom had bought. I used it for over a decade. I completed several full-length books on that computer, most of them going over 100,000 words. I wrote four eBooks and one print book on that computer, which were all published by The Wild Rose Press. 

April 13, 2023

K - OK, So What Are Natural Stress Relievers? + BONUS

 


I fully believe in natural remedies and techniques to treat colds, simple illnesses, and stress relief (in combination with modern medicine and therapy).

For stress, there is so much you can do to find relief, as well as to prevent that stress from causing writer’s block and burnout.


Lavender

The smell of lavender is known to be calming and ease anxiety. A diffuser is a wonderful and safe way to use essential oils and benefit from their healing properties. You can purchase a diffuser, big or small, add the appropriate amount of essential oil drops (according to your diffuser’s instructions) to the water, turn it on, and let the smell of lavender seep through your room/house. You can also put the essential oils in an oil burner with a votive or tea candle to heat it. Make sure to keep an eye on these burners and not to fill the bowl to the rim. Safety first!

You can use lavender sprigs as well. Put real lavender in a small satchel and place it under your pillow to promote a restful and relaxing sleep. You can make a satchel out of a simple piece of square cotton by bringing the corners together into a bundle and tying it off with a ribbon or a bit of yarn. Lavender teas can also do the same. I drink a lovely lemon and lavender tea that reminds me a little of the fruity cereal I used to eat as a child.

Sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oils into your bath, too. If you have sensitive skin, you can dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or even olive oil. I tend to have sensitive skin but have never had a reaction from lavender essential oils in my bath. The only oil that did cause a reaction was cinnamon. Let me just say…that sure stung and made my skin look as though it was burned. Ouch! But everyone’s skin is different, so it’s best to be cautious.

April 12, 2023

J - Journals (Gratitude Journal, Discovery Journal, Art Journal) + BONUS



Gratitude Journal:

August 2013, in the middle of a bout of depression, I posted three gratitudes a day on my Facebook profile. I did this every day for three weeks. This challenge helped me to look for blessings during a time when I didn’t feel very blessed. In fact, I felt forgotten by everyone, including the Higher Powers. Most days, it was tough. I had to wrack my brain for something, anything, but reflecting on gratitudes that aren’t material objects (because I didn’t have many) helped me to look deep within and evaluate my life and myself in ways I usually wouldn’t

August 6, 2013:

Someone I know has been posting about 3 things she is grateful for every day, and when she challenged her friends to give it a try for three weeks, I thought I’d do it, because I’d rather spend my day thinking of 3 things I’m grateful for than being depressed about the things I can’t do/don’t have. So here it goes!

1. A healthy computer (...almost had to bring it in to get fixed!)

2. My crazy, funny, and adorable nephews, Mello and Carmello

3. My creativity

Some people keep a gratitude journal going year-round and write in it every day. I did this once in 2020. That may seem daunting at first, but like anything, if you keep up with it long enough, it’ll become a habit, and discovering what you’re thankful for at the end of each day can lift your mood significantly.

April 11, 2023

I - To Be a Writer, You Don't Need...an Interesting Life + BONUS

 


I’m sure you have heard about best-selling authors and authors of classics who had difficult childhoods of abuse and poverty and about every sadness imaginable. You’ve probably also noticed how (in movies, books, real life) the hurt children and teens write and want to be writers when they grow up. When I posted the quote “You don’t need a degree in English Literature to be a writer” on Instagram, I received a comment from someone saying, “U just need a heartbreak.”

No, you don’t.

You don’t need to experience heartbreak to be a writer, or to have gone through something devastating. That could give you material to write about. Writing through that could be a form of therapy and healing, but you absolutely do not need heartbreak, or pain, or depression, or addictions, or anything negative to be a writer.

Before I started writing, I had experienced childhood fights that frightened me, but it wasn’t until some years later when I went through the hardest years of my life, from the age of 14 to 18, when I felt greater fear. Those four years felt like an eternity. But those hardships did not make me a writer. Instead, writing was my escape.

April 10, 2023

H - To Be a Writer, You Don't Need...a Home + BONUS

 


When I was thirteen, we lost our home to foreclosure. I still remember getting the news when I came home, packing up my belongings in plastic grocery bags, and running up the moving truck ramp with my arms loaded. A lot of my stuff broke. We were terrified because we thought we had to get out that night and would only be able to bring what we could fit into that one moving truck. Fortunately, we had thirty days to leave. Those thirty days were filled with fear and worry and doubt.

We found a cute home to move into that reminded me of a farmhouse, but I would never forget my childhood home. I would never stop grieving for it. I would never stop disliking or feeling jealous over the new family who moved in.

Our stay at the cute farmhouse-styled home didn’t last long. Two years. Two years in which my parents got a divorce, I had spine surgery, my father moved to Michigan, and things at home became more dangerous and scarier at the hands of my half-brother.