"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG: Dealing With Worry

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

This morning I've been thinking about "worry". Everyone worries, but writers often seem to live and feed off of the emotion. Yes, I call worry an emotion because it's an extension of fear. 

The Bible tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

But I’m human. Which means, even with my faith, I tend to struggle with worry. Being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect. It makes you strive to be better than you were yesterday.

Worry has the power to occupy our thoughts. What if I’m not good enough to get published? What if I only ever get one piece published? What if my next book is not a success? What if no one buys my book, even though they all seem to be buying that crap on the NYT bestseller list?

It doesn’t matter what stage you are at in your career – just starting, or multi book deal. The worry is always hovering around. So, what do you do when the reminder ‘not to worry” is not enough?

1)      Face the Fear – Instead of suppressing the anxiety or running away from your perceived problems, it is important to deal with them as immediately as possible. Your uncertainty will only grow with time if you let it. Ask yourself what is truly causing you to panic, and what can you do about it right now – today. Take one day at a time. A friend of mine often refers to this anxiety as False Evidence Appearing Real, and says those emotions tend to flee with a proactive approach.

2)      Meditate – Whether you spend the time in prayer, or just focus on the sounds of the ocean coming from your stereo, meditation can offer you the needed break from the brain clutter causing you to seize up. This practice helps you achieve greater clarity and focus, and decreases the potential for worry.
3)    Work it out – sometimes #1 isn’t enough. Maybe you find yourself in a holding pattern. Or maybe you just can’t seem to escape those feelings. Exercise may not solve your problems, but engaging in ANY physical activity can take your mind off of things. Activity is a natural stress reliever that can clear your thinking, and result in a more positive attitude. Hate to exercise? Simple chores such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming away cobwebs from the ceiling, or dusting those high shelves provides enough movement to provide your brain with the needed energy boost to get back on track.
4)    Stay hydrated – Scientists claim dehydration can cause depression. While most of us roll our eyes at the “it’s important to drink enough water everyday” lecture, why risk your mental health? Drink more water, and feel the unease melt away.
5)    Take a break – just as meditation and exercise can reinforce your state of mind, so too can taking a break. If you spend your days sitting too long in one place, or there is a constant flux causing your heart rate to increase exponentially, then you need to periodically need a break. Allow time for fun and relaxation so your feelings of anxiety can subside.
6)    Seek help – Sometimes it’s impossible to go it alone. If none of these steps offer any relief, or the feeling just seem to continually increase, then it’s time to ask for help. Sometimes just finding others facing similar dilemmas is enough to help you. Join a writers group, find critique partners, and talk to young students who want to write. If those encounters still aren’t enough, then it may be time to find a counselor. Anxiety disorders are nothing to be ashamed of, or to take lightly. YOU ARE WORTH HELPING!
If you find yourself plagued by worry, try one of these six steps. Worrying by itself will not help you to solve your problems. Continued worry can only compound your situation, and endanger your health. Make a commitment to reduce your anxiety levels today. The power is yours, and it begins with the choice to stop worrying.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pledge to Write

The last few months have been a bit of a slump for me. I haven't worked on any new writing - I just plodded along trying to complete projects I already had in the works.

Ever since I returned from summer vacation I haven't been able to produce much (which makes me wonder if I shouldn't take vacations from my writing when I travel, but that's another topic). I've thought "that's it, I'm done. I'm not a real writer. I've just been pretending this whole time. It was a fun hobby while it lasted, but I guess I'm done."

While I felt further depressed by those thoughts, I couldn't break the cycle... until a few days ago. Suddenly, I'm overflowing with new ideas, and motivated to try new projects. I can barely focus on one manuscript at a time.

To celebrate my newly rediscovered zest for the craft, and in an effort to keep the momentum going, I'm committing to the Author Publish pledge. "I pledge to write at least one page every day in October."

If this works out for me, maybe I can use one of these new pages as a starting ground for NaNoWriMo in November. One thing at a time.

So, anyone want to join me and take the pledge? Have you ever found yourself in a slump, or overwhelmed with ideas? If so, you might enjoy reading about 20 Things Only Highly Creative People Would Understand.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2015: September 27-October 3

It's the middle of "BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2015".  The top ten books frequently challenged in 2014 has been released by the State of America's Library Report

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books list is compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and is based on derived from communities across the United States. According to their data, the ten most challenged books of 2014 are:
1)      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
2)      Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
3)      And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
4)      The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
5)      It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”
6)      Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:
7)      The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
8)      The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
9)      A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
10)  Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit

If you would like more information about banned and challenged books, contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220, or oif@ala.org.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Technology Plague

Sometimes technology can be as big a curse as it can be a blessing. The last few weeks I've felt this truth abundantly. A string of mishaps, break downs, and outright temper tantrums on my part have left me wondering why I use technology at all. I know I could never truly give up technology completely, but occasional breaks are definitely called for when they become an overwhelming distraction. While I try to get all of my devices back on track and behaving, I thought you might enjoy reading about:

10 Famous Writers Who Refuse to Use Modern Technology

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mumm's the Word

It's almost Fall, and we are enjoying our first stint of cooler weather here in southeast Texas. It was in the 60's this morning, and it won't be long before we are pulling out the pumpkins.

It's also time for a new issue of Southern Writer's magazine. In this issue I talk with Anita Mumm, editor and former employee of the Nelson Literary Agency.

To learn more about this magazine or to order a copy, please visit: http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com/ 

How are your manuscripts or other projects coming along? Are you reading any great books or magazines?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IWSG: Best Self Publishing Venue

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page

Today, I am hoping for some advice. I'm thinking of self publishing a book that several agents and editors have told me has too narrow a market for them. I have never tried the self publishing route before so I am just now learning about the venues available. As far as I can tell, Book Baby, Amazon, and Smashwords seem to be the most popular. Below are two links comparing them, but I'm hoping for some recommendations from you.



Have you ever self published? If so, who did you use? Who do you recommend, and why?