Saturday, September 7, 2013

5 Fears that Prevent Dreams (And How to Overcome Them)

No matter which dreams you may have there will be a point when accomplishing it may look impossible. Dreams can seem too big or too far away. After all that’s what makes them a dream. The work to accomplish them can appear overwhelming. It is part of the challenge. It’s what makes the dream alluring. So what do you do when your dreams are surrounded by fears? How can you overcome them and make to the dim light at the end of the tunnel? By recognizing your fears:
1.      Others are right when they say you will fail

Know that there will always be naysayers. People already living the dream and people who don’t know anything about it. You can take their words as truth or you can use it to fuel your determination. Wondering if you can do it or if you’ll fall flat on your face is irrelevant. No one, including you, will know what you can do until you give it a try.

2.      You don’t know what you’re doing

This happens and there’s a simple way to fix it. Learn more. Fears can come from being afraid you aren’t good enough, but often there is something you can do about it. Learn all you can and then keep learning. You may not know all you need to know now, but if you make it a habit to increase your learning you will always be improving and one day you will look back and realize how much you have grown.

3.      You’re not ready

There is a point to which this can be very true. It’s important to make sure you are as ready as you can be before leaping out into space. But sometimes what happens is that you are ready, you just don’t want to jump. Ask yourself this: How badly do I want this dream? A dream is not worth realizing if it is easy. You have to fight and fall and bleed, but when you get it you will cherish it because it cost all that pain.

4.      It’s not perfect

Aim for perfection but don’t die over it or let its lack in your eyes keep you from taking action. Often we can create a goal in our minds that is beyond, not only our abilities but even the abilities of those we think we’re trying to be like. I would paralyze myself by imagining what I would think of my books in twenty years. O how young and na├»ve I would seem to me then. But you can’t hold yourself responsible for knowing stuff you simply don’t know yet. You can’t hold up what you believe is perfect and say, “Until this dream is like that I won’t try it.”  Make it as good as you know how and when you no longer have errors you know how to fix then give it a shot.

5.      What if no one likes it

There are over 7 billion people in the world. Believe it or not your tastes and interests are not unique to only you. Odds are there is at least one person out there, if not thousands or millions, who shares a similar interest in the same things and will find your product a breath of fresh air. Find out why you like what you do and market it to yourself.

There are many reasons that fear will use to keep you from following your heart. Learn to live with them, but don’t let them control you, because the fact is fears and doubts are always there. Will you let the control you and keep you locked up or will you keep them behind you as you race for the goal?

This was originally posted on Write Over the Edge, a blog for writers. Check them out.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Good Deals Ending

Just to let you know the prices of The White Lilac and Fadeout will be changing at the end of this month. Right now both are .99 however they will be going up to 3.99 in a few days. If you were thinking of buying one or both now is your chance. Also The Compound, a short story prequel to The White Lilac, is currently free at online retailers. Grab them while you have the chance. :)


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Talent or Hard Work?

A while back I was talking to my sister, Joanna. We were having dinner, a break from college stress for her and a break from a busy day for me. My sister and I have the arts in common, among other things, although our art forms of choice are different since I write and Joanna is a mime and actor. You can see some of her pieces on YouTube here and here. It's wonderful because we will both start talking about the creative process and the emotions we want to instill in a piece and whatever frustrations we may have over not having the story go the way we want.

So as we were talking she said, "I really don't like it when people tell me I'm so talented, because it ignores all the hard work I've done." And her comment struck me. Was she talented or did she just work hard over many years? Which led me to wonder where talent ends and hard work begins. Are people talented or do they just work harder than others and become better that way?

In my sister's case I believe there is a bit of both. She is talented, but she has been practicing and working on perfecting her movement style and body control for 14 years. Nine years ago we both wanted to get more involved in our art forms and so we both started practicing everyday. She created four or five new pieces to perform and I wrote a book and two short stories. We studied and compared notes and went back to the grindstone of work. I knew how hard she worked, because it was as hard as I did, actually harder. She went to college specifically for mime and practiced for hours and hours every day until she graduated.

Joanna came back from college and performed locally and I'd heard people gush over how talented she is. But when they say she is talented, it is as if they dismiss the years and years of hard work she put into perfecting her art. When other kids her age were playing video games and shopping at the mall, she was stretching and playing with invisible balls. When other college students were studying math, science or nursing and becoming proficient in those areas, she was doing the same only with dance. She didn't wake up one morning with all the grace and style she has now. She worked hard for it and her performance is a direct result of how hard she has worked, not how much talent she has.

A person can be able to pick up an action or activity quickly. Yet is this talent or just a quickness of mind? The only way that person will become truly gifted is through hard work: Practice, day in and day out over years, repeating it until the times it is right outnumber the times it is wrong. There is an element to which any person can become decent at any activity through practice. For instance, I believe anyone can write. Writing is a craft that can be learned. Words can be chosen, plots accomplished step by step, characters can be molded. All of these things are possible to learn and become good at through practice. Still even when a person knows all these things it does not make them brilliant or great. And perhaps this is when talent picks up to separate those who can from those who can amaze. However, the point is that those who can amaze have spent a long time practicing to get there. So are they really talented or did they just work harder than everyone else?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

4 Reasons Ideas Stop

Over the course of a life of writing there are ebbs and flows of creativity. Sometimes there is an explosion of ideas, other times the ideas dry up leaving a fear that they will never come back. But there are many reasons for why ideas stop. Here are a few:

1.      You may need to write more down.

Just get ideas out of your head so there is space for the new ones. The mind can only concentrate on a few things at a time and if you aren’t using your mind to create new ideas than you are only dwelling on the old ideas. The mind has to flow. If you bottle it up then it can’t discover new thoughts.

2.      You have grown up in your writing.

Remember the days when every idea sounded brilliant and possible? Have you looked back on some of them and thought, “Wow I would never do that now.” The days of accepting just any thought that catches your eye are long gone. But that’s a good thing. It means you are no longer willing to run with just any thought that flits through your mind. You’re sophisticated and waiting for the right ideas to hit you and when they do you love them because they are more mature and fit your style perfectly.

3.      You are forcing ideas.

This happens when you stress about not having ideas and you attempt to create out of stress. Sometimes this can work. There is nothing like a deadline to ensure a finished product. But sometimes this doesn’t work. Creativity flows. It doesn’t march to a beat. And if it is forced too often it may rebel altogether. Take a deep breath and don’t worry about when you will get your next idea. Because the best ideas come when you’re not expecting them to.

4.      You’re looking for the wrong ideas.

Sometimes you don’t understand yourself as well as you think you do. You might want to be a writer in a certain genre or write about certain characters, themes or plots, but we all have areas we gravitate toward and sometimes they don’t include the areas we want to gravitate toward. We may want to be funny or mysterious or literary or romantic, however this doesn’t mean we are. It can seem right to push yourself to finish an idea, but if it is the wrong idea it will flow like iced concrete and look just as pretty. You will spend your days frustrated because the piece won’t do what you want of live up to your imagination. This is because you are trying to do something that is not you. Your mind doesn’t work that way. But your mind works in a different way that will be even more satisfying because it will flow and it will be beautiful. 

One thing to remember: It’s okay to run out of ideas. You are still creative! And one day you will be energized again and the ideas will flow. You just have to wait.

This was originally posted at Write Over the Edge where I am one of the contributors. Check it out for other great writing discussions!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Remembered: Chapter 1

For those of you who have read Fadeout, and even if you haven't, here's a sneak peek at the first chapter of Remembered, And Carillians for the Machine Book 2!

Chapter 1: Silas

The wet twigs and leaves slipped with every step Silas Durant took, often overstraining his leg muscles which tried so hard to keep his body upright. It had been two weeks on the run and he would have thought his muscles would be used to it by now. He glanced back at his sister Malina. Her eyes stared off at the distant trees. A bell rang probably from a nearby town, but she was not looking in the direction the sound was coming from. She was just staring at the last spot her eyes happened to look. The downhill slope they had been following seemed to have no obvious effect on her. Silas rubbed the sweat from his brow and then checked Malina’s forehead. She was sweating too, just not as much as he was, although she wasn’t breathing heavily despite the fact that they had been running for eight hours straight since early morning.

“We’ll stop at the bottom of this hill,” Silas said. There had to be some kind of stream or river nearby. He thought he could hear water trickling somewhere downhill. They would also have to find something to eat. Silas wasn’t sure how long he could make three slices of bread and a block of cheese last, but it was all that was left now after two weeks of careful rationing.

“Come on,” Silas said. He stepped and his foot slipped farther than he expected. His other leg slid into the dirt and his hands sank an inch in mud when they tried to stop his fall. Silas let out a laugh. That had to look awkward, but when he glanced up at Malina, she didn’t smile or look concerned. It made Silas feel alone, utterly alone when she did that. She was his sister, but all of her memories were taken out of her mind, removed to be sold for energy. She didn’t remember him, she didn’t even remember herself and he had to carry all of their memories by himself.

Silas quickly checked the pillowcase with the food tied to his back. He could feel the smooth surface of the glass e-mem resting against his back. The pillowcase was clean, which also meant the only memory Malina had left was safe too. The first chance he got he would find a way to get her memories and hopefully one day he would find a way to stick them back into her mind. But her memories were locked up in the Cartiam, the one place he was trying so hard to escape from. How would he ever get back there before her memories were shipped and lost forever?

He started to push himself up, but when he turned his noticed Malina’s right foot was soaked in blood.

“What happened?” Silas asked.

Malina turned her eyes to him at the sound of his voice.

He reached out and gently lifted her foot. Several leaves and a stick came up with it and Silas wiped all but the stick away. The angle of the stick appeared to pierce through her shoe into her foot and Silas couldn’t remove the shoe without taking out the stick first.

“I’m going to take it out fast, okay?” Silas didn’t look up because he didn’t want to see how calm her eyes would be. She never complained and now he wondered if he had been pushing her too hard.

Silas took a ragged breath and closed his fingers around the stick. With a quick tug he jerked it out of the shoe and gritted his teeth against the flow of blood from the hole in her shoe. He undid the laces and inspected her foot as well as he could. The stick had poked through the center of her arch, but the top of Malina’s foot was still whole. There was both old and new blood on her sock which meant that she had been running with the stick in her foot for a while and he hadn’t noticed.

“I’m sorry.”

She didn’t say anything. Much like she hadn’t said anything about the stick. He tried to think back if she’d sighed or grunted or made any sound over the last few miles that he should have paid more attention to, but he couldn’t remember. It would be up to him from now on. He would have to pay more attention, especially now that he knew she wouldn’t warn him if she was in pain.

Silas took off his cleanest sock and wrapped it around Malina’s foot. Then he put her sock and shoe back on and pushed himself up. Once they found the water he would clean her up and then they would take the remainder of the day to rest.

“Lean on me,” Silas said when he straightened. He wrapped his arm around her waist and took a few steps with her. Malina walked on both feet almost as if there was nothing wrong, but she didn’t seem to step as hard on her hurt foot as she did with her other foot. Silas tried pulling her weight on him when she did need to step on her bad foot and they slowly followed the sound of the water until the little creek came into view.

He found the safest route down the creek bank and helped Malina down. The mud was thick and oozed around his shoes and the water seemed to fill the air with the taste of cleanliness. Leading her to the nearest flat rock, Silas had her sit while he removed her shoe and the socks and placed her foot into the water.

The mid-spring water was cold and made his fingers go numb while they were gently rubbing her foot and scrubbing the socks. After hanging the socks up to dry, Silas inspected Malina’s foot again. It wasn’t bleeding and the hole didn’t look nearly as big as the amount of blood in the socks had suggested. But there was a large bruise, dark and puffy, that covered the sole of her foot.

“Look,” Silas said and pointed to the foot. “You need to tell me when it hurts. Okay?”

Malina’s brown eyes stared at him, like a little child who didn’t speak the same language.

“When you feel pain,” Silas touched the wound, “You tap me on the shoulder.” He took her hand and rested it on his shoulder. He let his hand drop, but Malina left hers there a moment longer and then she placed her hand in her lap.

Silas pulled the pillowcase over his shoulder and opened it.

“Here,” he said handing her a whole slice of bread. For himself, he drank some water and tried not to think about food.

Silas let all his air out in a whoosh. The plan to keep running wouldn’t be sustainable much longer. When he escaped the Cartiam with Malina it was thrilling to be free. What he hadn’t counted on was how hard it was to stay that way. In one sense it was so much harder than he’d ever dreamed possible. He was in charge of everything: food, clothes, a place to sleep and any health issues. Never had he imagined how hard it would be to find food in the forest. There were just leaves, trees, dirt and rocks, none of which looked anything like the food he’d been served in the cafeteria.

The bell from the town rang again and Silas refused to let the sound call to him. There would be nothing in the town but the threat of being caught. Out in these woods they were safe. He had seen or heard no one over the last two weeks and it was best that way. If only he knew how to find food it would be perfect.

“I’m going to look around,” Silas said. “To see how close we are to the town.”

He double checked to make sure her foot was out of the water and resting in the open before he added, “You stay here.”

Malina stayed as she was and when Silas peered back at her five minutes later she was still in the same position. There was something to be said for how well she obeyed him. He should have been worried. He doubted she would move if the creek flooded. She’d drown where she sat and still not move. But he’d be back before that could happen.

It was rough going. The ground was soaked from all the rain that had fallen over the past few days and it was difficult for Silas to find any secure foothold. Still he managed to hike over three wooded hills and at the top of the fourth was a road. Not like the old roads he had seen in the woods every now and then, this one was current. Packed gravel and tar smoothed the surface of the road. He didn’t have time to inspect the road more because a rattle of wheels and clopping of hooves sounded near the bend and he quickly retreated to the nearest trees.

The wheels grew closer and Silas’ heart thumped louder. He checked his arms and legs to reassure himself they were not sticking out in plain sight. They weren’t but he pulled them in closer to the center of the tree just in case. As the wagon passed the tree, Silas inched along the trunk always keeping the tree between him and the wagon. Once the wagon was past, Silas peeked at it.

The wagon was pulled by an ox and it must have belonged to a farmer because it was full of seed bags. On the tail flap of the wagon sat two boys, both younger than Silas. At first he thought they must have belonged to the farmer, but when the farmer glanced back both of the boys ducked so they wouldn’t be seen.

Silas waited until the wagon was almost out of sight before he started following it. The boys stayed on the wagon until it was in sight of the town’s first buildings. Together they jumped off and slipped between the two closest buildings with the farmer unaware of his passengers. Silas wanted to creep closer and see where the boys went, but it would require him leaving the comfort of the trees and that was something he wasn’t willing to do. It made him wonder what they were doing though. Did they have family or were they more like him?

The more he thought about it, the more it seemed like those boys were hiding from society too. It was doubtful they were Carillians too, but just knowing they were there made him feel a bit less alone in the world. He stayed and watched a few more people mill about the town. Each person had their mind on their own troubles and didn’t bother with anyone else. No one was in the habit of questioning random new people. That was something at least. He wanted to get closer and watch more, but the sun was close to setting and he didn’t like to leave Malina alone for long periods of time.

He snuck deeper into the woods before he broke out into a slow run and jogged back to the creek. It pleased him that he had been able to find his way back to wherever he needed to go in the woods. Often when he first left he would take a moment to memorize the trees around him and when he returned he found there was always something he recognized. He felt at home in the trees perhaps because they crowded around him and gave the appearance of the walls he was too used to seeing as a child.

Silas was too busy looking around that when he burst through the bushes the first thing he saw was Malina sitting on the rock with a red fox standing a foot from her hand. The fox’s head whipped up.

“Get away!” Silas yelled and he jumped down the bank into the shallow creek, cold water splashing up his legs. The fox jerked and then trotted away into the bushes. His heart pounded as he tried to walk without slipping.

“Are you all right?” he asked her.

Malina looked at him. He wasn’t sure if she looked a bit pale or not, but her hands were calm and whole. Her foot was still up on the rock where he left it and aside from the bruise looking a deeper brown it didn’t appear like the fox had bit her anywhere.

He collected the dried socks and fitted them over her foot. Then he held out his hand to her and said, “Here let’s find a place to sleep.”

Malina took his hand and he pulled her up. He turned her toward the shore, but what he saw stopped him cold. The rock Malina was sitting on was stained in blood.

Monday, August 5, 2013

5 Ways to Know You’re Not an Intermediate Writer Anymore

Here are the marks of the next level of writer. If you breezed by 4 Ways to Know You Are a Writer and passed through 4 Ways to Know You’re Not a BeginningWriter Anymore, then this may be where you are. Here are the ways to find out:

1.      You can teach writing.

This happens when you have gathered and studied enough knowledge on writing that you can teach on writing topics without completely relying on others. You can pull from your own experience to help those who are not quite as advanced as you are. There may still be the occasional beginner’s work that completely baffles you, but on the whole you can identify or recognize what an unpolished work is missing and how to fix it.

2.      You’ve started to run out of ideas.

There is a creative high that comes from being a beginner and intermediate writer. But as you move through the steps growing deeper in your writing style and personality, there comes a time when you realize you don’t have as many ideas as you used to. The possibilities of writer’s block loom right around the corner and things don’t flow as well as you remember they did. This though is a sign that you have matured. You’re more careful because you don’t want to waste your time with an idea you know you won’t use later.

3.      You have worked on a piece of your writing until you are sick of looking at it.

This is especially important because it means that you cared enough about your writing to want it to be perfect. So you worked and worked on it. You added a word here changed a word there and then changed it back. You’ve done this so many times that you are now certain your piece will never be perfect and it makes you sick to look at it. You are right it may never be perfect, but as Leonardo da Vinci said, “Great art is never finished only abandoned.”

4.      You know what works for you.

Wading through the flood of advice on writing out there is difficult, but you’ve tried the different approaches: Outline vs. Creative flow, Character interview vs. Just see how it goes, or Index cards vs. Notepads. You have recognized a pattern in the way you craft a piece whether you should start in the beginning and move along linearly or jump around writing whatever scene you have the passion for. You know what makes your writing easier and what makes writing more like work. And because of this you have become a sufficient professional. 

5.      You can write even when you’re not inspired.

It is normal for a writer to write when inspired, when the ink flows through page after page, but to write when you’re sick, tired, frustrated and uninspired this is the sign of a mature writer. It takes discipline and self-control to buckle your pants to the chair and churn out the words. The amount of words is not important because it’s all about the dedication and determination.

These are the signs of a maturing professional writer. Have any resonated with you?
This was originally posted at Write Over the Edge where I am one of the contributors. Check it out for other great writing discussions!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Compound in Amazon's Top 100

I managed to get The Compound's Amazon price reduced to free recently. Which I'm really excited about. As a result in the last two days The Compound has been in the top 100 of two different Amazon categories! Bear with me because some of these categories are long.

Kindle's, ebooks, Children's, Sci-fi and Dystopian had The Compound at #8 yesterday and #14 today.

Kindle's, ebooks, Children's, literature and Short story collections had it at #28 yesterday and #29 today.

In addition, yesterday The Compound was #10,500ish in overall free e-books, but today it is #8,793. If you consider that this short story is competing with hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of other free e-books, then you know this is just as big a deal, maybe even bigger because anyone can see it and not just those who are searching Children's or Sci-fi.

If you haven't checked out The Compound yet, please do. It's free on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other places like Kobo, Sony, Apple as well.

Monday, July 29, 2013

4 Ways to Know You're not a Beginning Writer Anymore

I’d been writing for several years, soaking up everything I can and I knew I was getting better. I wasn’t as green as I used to be. I wasn’t making those dreaded “amateur” mistakes all the professionals were talking about. But I didn’t know if this meant I wasn’t a beginner anymore (To see what makes a beginner check out 4 Ways to Know You Are a Writer). I wanted a clearly defined line or test I could take that would tell me if the progress I was making was valid. At that time I found nothing, but if you’ve ever wondered that same question, then this is for you:

1.      When you notice beginning writer mistakes and cringe.

Noticing beginning writer mistakes in yourself and in others is a sign that you have come to understand the writing world. You are “in the know.” One of us. Knowing how to fix those mistakes is a whole other level, but recognizing them is a step in the right direction and knowing to avoid them means you aren’t a novice.

2.      When you read books on writing and you’ve heard much of it before.

This is big. If you want to write you have to read books on writing. Read as many as you can because each book approaches elements of writing differently and what you might not understand from one book might make more sense in another. I had the hardest time understanding the difference between “show and tell,” but after reading what several books said about it I was able to learn to identify it and avoid the “telling.”
3.      When you have read a book by someone else and you want to kill yourself because you will never write something that wonderful.

Beginners are passionate about their writing, but they haven’t matured enough to realize they really aren’t better than Hemingway yet or perhaps even the average published writer (Ahh, the horror). A maturing writer has come to understand their strengths and more importantly has come to understand their weaknesses. You may be a great writer about to blossom, but you will not write the best book in every genre and style. There will always be a writer out there who can write something better than you, but that’s good because it pushes you to be better.

 4.      When you can introduce yourself as a writer without thinking about it.

This means you find your identity in your writing. The first few times you start introducing yourself as a writer may feel weird, like you are claiming a position you haven’t earned or are trying to convince everyone else just as hard as you want to convince yourself. But if you say you’re a writer long enough, there will come the day when you believe it and another day when you can say it without thinking about it because you know it is true.

If you have connected with any of these then congratulations! Crack out the champagne or sparkling grape juice-preferable the white. You are moving up. You’re not a beginner anymore!

This post was originally posted on Write Over the Edge, a writer's blog I contribute to. Check out this and other cool posts!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Remembered Opening Poem

Before I even knew who the characters of Fadeout would be I had the words of a poem stuck in my head. I wrote the poem and then built a whole series around it. But the poem was always first and everything else flowed around it.

So as I was writing Remembered, the second book in the series, I began to think about possible poem ideas for this book too. This one instantly came to me and I wanted to give you a sneak peek. And if you stick around you may see a few chapters coming over the next few weeks.

The Robber in the Night
An Ajak Tale
On a warm summer day it is easy to believe in right
The world is spinning happily, turning bright day into night
You think you see a dust cloud, but you say it’s far away
You focus on your work and move on throughout your day
With the goats and pigs both fed and an apple on your plate
You don’t see the cloud is closer and will soon decide your fate
Then with an open window to let in more than the breeze
You drift off into nothingness while quiet hands do seize
All your wealth and freedom now gone without a fight
Each taken by the notorious, elusive robber of the night

Monday, July 22, 2013

4 Ways to Know You're a Writer

Being a writer can be something you know inside, but it is not until you see it that it is realized. If you know you’re a writer then this might seem a bit basic. But if you aren’t sure then this can help you recognize the desires you already have. Here are four ways to know you are indeed a writer:

1.      You’ve read something written by someone else and thought you could do better.

And then you actually attempted it. You sat down and put fingers to keys or pen to paper. It doesn’t matter if you succeeded in doing better or gave up in frustration. Just the fact that you tried means you want to write and create something.

2.      When you are inspired your first thought is to write.

What inspires you? It could be other stories, television or events and people, but if the first thought you have afterward is, “This would make a good story,” then you are already thinking like a writer. Although it may seem natural to you, most people don’t think that way, only writers do.

3.      You can’t not write.

The best reason to become a writer is because you have to write. If you have a passion that burns inside you, an itch to grab a pen and paper or place your fingers on keys and not doing so hurts, then you are a writer. And you will need that passion to make it through to your dream’s end.

4.      You want to be a writer.

This may seem a little obvious, but the desire to be a writer is not something everyone has. Sometimes talent has something to do with this, but sometimes it doesn’t. Just because a person can craft sentences that would make the hardest heart weep, does not mean this person wants to write or even cares that this talents flows from them. Our desires make us who we are and if you want to be a writer then go and do it! You may not have talent and you might have to work harder than any other writer you know, but if you want it hard enough you will be able to write and write well.

Even though these things are specific to writers, the principles are true for pretty much any occupation or hobby or dream. You’ll never know what you can achieve if you don’t try. I once had an artist tell me, “Anyone can paint,” and I remember thinking “Nuh-uh,” but in a sense he was right. Painting is comprised of knowledge: shapes and colors, shading and techniques. These things can be learned. Anyone can paint.

The same is true for writing. It’s a combination of words that convey information often in predetermined styles and with effort anyone can learn this. As great as talent is, without effort it will only collect dust and fade away. But with effort even the tiniest speck of talent can blossom into a flower bigger than you or I would think. It is not a matter of being better than every writer who ever lived, but being the best you who ever lived. There is only one person who can do that: You.

This was originally posted at Write Over the Edge where I am one of the contributors. Check it out for other great writing discussions!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Writing Exercise 5

So this one isn't from the book (Making a Scene), but I had so much fun I thought I should include it anyway. I got this from a Goodreads group, which had a writing contest. You had to write a short story or poem about the line: Love like there's no tomorrow. Live like there's forever. I thought I'd give it a little twist. ;-) Let me know what you think!

No one really knows how much time they have. It could be years or moments and I never really cared. Life was life. I spent most of my time drifting aimlessly, like a bee buzzing from flower to flower just following his nose. Whatever I wanted to do I did. Any carefree, just for fun, kind of action I was all over it. Anything that caught my fancy could keep me busy for hours. Boredom was just not allowed.

You wouldn't think a dead dog could change your life, but for me it did. I found it on the side of the road off in a ditch and half covered by the tall, dry grass, but the scent touched the air and told me where it was. I was just watching it wondering what happened when I saw her. Dark, almost black skin, bright eyes and slender legs. She was beautiful, a fresh breath of heaven.

I could tell from her size that she was a bit older than me, but that didn't stop me from getting a closer look. Still when she noticed me I froze, my tongue got all wet and then all dry so that I was afraid it would fall out of my mouth and onto the ground. Her eyes practically hypnotized me. I felt a bit dizzy and stared at her until her eyes doubled and then tripled all around me. I pulled myself away and tried to think of someway to break the ice.

"Hiii...." My voice caught.

"Well, hello cutie." Was she speaking to me? It looked like she was, but I checked behind me just to make sure I was the only guy about. The coast was clear.

"Where have you been all my life?" She was suddenly very close and now I was sure my tongue was hanging out.

I shook my head and managed to utter, "Waiting for you."

Like an angel she floated away and I bounded after her. Suddenly life was more than life. It was alive. Every day I'd lived doing whatever I wanted seemed like a poor, dull existence. I wanted nothing more than to be with her forever. I'd seen other girls but none were like her and I didn't even know her name. Together we landed on a low hanging branch and deep down inside I knew her name didn't matter. She was the fly for me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fadeout Review

I got a review of Fadeout!

I've been looking for reviews for my newest book and I asked Kindlemom from My Guilty Obsession because she had reviewed The White Lilac last year. She graciously accepted and read my book in record time. Just yesterday the review came out. She gave Fadeout 3 stars and had this to say about it:

"Anyone who has read any one of Adams' books knows that they are unlike anything else out there. Full of imagination and originality galore."

Yay! It made my day. :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

This Week: Giveaway and Interview Time

This week begins with a giveaway and interview at Every Free Chance. There will be 5 e-copies of Fadeout and 4 e-copies of The White Lilac available, but you'll have to act fast. This giveaway only lasts until this Sunday, July 21.

In other news I have several Read for Reviews coming up in Goodreads groups. If you're on Goodreads look me up. I love meeting new people and making friends. The same goes for Twitter and Facebook.

Update on Remembered: I'm still working toward a late-August publication date, but the timing might be tight. We'll see.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Writing Exercises 4

Since my writers group had gone through the basic elements of a scene's structure, its beginning, middle and end. We moved on to chapter 7 in Make a Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld, a writing book you should check out, on character motivation and development. There were several aspects of character motivation and development that should be included in every scene. Some of these include the motivation from personal history, intention the character has in the scene and making the end of the scene either more or less complicated.

Scene information: Write a story about a girl named Susi (or however you want to spell it) who is going skydiving and include all the elements of character development.

In this one I focused on making it More Complicated.

The rumble of the plane's duel engines shook every atom of Susi's body and the roar of the wind from the open door made her both deaf and blind. Clutching her phone tightly she almost snapped it in half when her instructor, a dark-haired 19-year-old guy tapped her should and pulled the strap of her goggles. She quickly slipped them on and rushed a panicked hand over her hair for any lumps. The guy gave her a thumbs up and began tightening the straps that connected her to him and him to the parachute.

A lurch of wind made the plane bounce and Susi fell back onto him, but he didn't seem to notice. She wondered if he was dating anyone, then she quickly shoved the thought out. Even though it wasn't official yet she fully expected to go to the prom with Logan. Something she'd been waiting six grades for and never thought would come true until he noticed her doing a flip on the bleachers.

"Wow, you're adventurous!" he'd said and he'd say it again when he saw these pictures she'd take with her phone.

The plane jerked even worse and then one of the engines puttered. An alarm flashed in the back of the plan. The guy patter her should and motioned that he had to talk to the pilot. Susi shook her head. They were so close. But he unhooked himself anyway. He hadn't gone two steps when one of the engines caught fire. The bump threw Susi into the wall and her instructor was sucked out the open door.

Scene information: Write a story about a boy named Karlheinz who is stuck in a tree and include all the elements of character development.

In this one I focused on making it Less Complicated.

Going up the pine tree had been much easier for 12-year-old Karlheinz than it was gong down. His fingers were coated in drying sap and stuck to the branches when he didn't want them to. Carefully he reached out with his leather dress shoes searching for the branch he'd seen, but he couldn't find it. His arms shook from the strain but his other shoe slipped on the loose bark.

With sweat dripping into his eyes he pulled himself up onto the bigger branch and rested with one arm around the thinning trunk. It'd been a mistake to wear his dress shoes and now he was stuck.

This was all Frau. Shubbert's fault. She'd told him the answer to his father's identity was at the top of the pine tree. He'd ran straight tot he tree and leaped from branch to branch until he'd reached the top, but his father's name was not there. Karlheinz wasn't sure what he expected but there was no treasure box or plaque. Nothing that would give him the closure he wanted. A name. Was it really to much to ask?

His fingers tightened against the bark, but as they did he felt a smooth section of bark, not at all the crumbly pine bark he expected. Finding strength he didn't think he had he pulled himself around to the other side. There in the center of a warn but deeply etched heart were the names Karl and Louisa. Louisa was his mother's name. His heart began to beat faster. His father was named Karl. Just like he was. The burden he'd carried for so long slipped away and he knew he could go home.

Your turn. Write the same scene and then toy with the development of your characters and making the elements of the scene either more or less complicated.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Hunt is Still On

Last week we had a treasure hunt and although I don't know how many people participated I do know that the prize is as of now still unclaimed. The rules still apply and if you want a free e-book copy of one of my books, either for you or a friend, now's the chance! Follow the trail! Don't get lost. :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Foolish Optimism?

I read an article recently that discussed the difference between hope and optimism that I found most interesting, especially since my post The End of Happy Endings. The article was called Why Hope isn't Just Optimism and it basically touched on how trusting in hope and trusting in optimism are really two different things.

Now it can be foolish to blindly trust in optimism. That's a great way to become cynical fast.
If you just believe that things will get better because...things get better, you are likely to discover disappointment. Being optimistic for the sake of being optimistic is not based on a solid reasoning or fact or even probability. Note: I'm not talking about optimism that is based on those things. There are many reasons to be optimistic, but blindly trusting that because you are optimistic everything will turn out for the best isn't a good reason.

Hope on the other hand, has to have an object to be placed on. You hope in a person, a decision, a dream, a future. I suppose it's possible to hope in hope, but I'm not even sure what that would look like. You can place your hope in something that is not worth of it. I can hope a chair will hold me and sit in it, but if it collapses then I placed my hope in something that I shouldn't have. Sometimes these unworthy things are obvious. I'm not going to walk across a river on a bridge made of spider silk. It won't hold me even if I'm optimistic. If I have found a way to combine spider silk into rope and have watch that silk hold the weight of a car, then it is reasonable to think and hope it might hold me too. Yet I am placing more hope in the technic used to turn spider silk into rope than I am the silk itself.

There's nothing wrong with optimism and hope isn't actually better than optimism. Both are important to a healthy lifestyle, because if you don't think things will turn out for the best and you don't have anything to hope in, your life will be hard and miserable. The danger comes when either of these are used excessively without a smidgen of realism. Optimism just needs to be grounded in the realm of things that are possible and hope needs to be placed on things that can see that hope realized. So what do you hope in? How optimistic are you?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July! I'm going to be spending the day with my family celebrating the independence of the American colonies from England, with some great food and light displays. And I'd like to share the celebration with you!

As a little holiday fun/treasure hunt. I've posted the cover for Breakthrough, the 3rd book in And Carillians for the Machine series. But it's hidden on my Facebook page. The first person to find it and e-mail me with the correct location of this cover, along with the answer to "What appears 7 times on the cover?" will get a free e-book from Smashwords, your choice The White Lilac, Fadeout or Remembered (when it is released).

So here's the 4 steps:

1. Go to my Facebook page. If you want to like it that would be great, but not necessary, although I do post information there that I don't here.

2. Search for the Breakthrough cover.

3. Look at the cover and identify the 7 things that appear across it.

4. Send me an e-mail including where the cover is located, your answer to what appears 7 times on the cover and which book you would like to:

Enjoy the hunt! :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Barnes & Noble

I don't normally post today, but I said I would post when The Compound finally made it to Barnes & Noble and it arrived in the last few hours. It's free on Barnes & Noble and I've also now added it to Amazon where it is .99. (Yep, I'm going to be rolling in dough.)

If you've ever wondered how long it takes for a story to be distributed from Smashwords to B&N, now you know that at least in The Compound's case it took a lucky 13 days from publication or 9 days from when it hit their premium status. I just know I'm going to have to come back to this post often to see how my next books and stories compare. Now that I'm actually paying attention to this. :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Remembered Update

Now that The Compound is out I've returned my focus on Remembered (ACFTM Book 2). The problem is that it took me longer to get The Compound done then I planned and now I am not going to be able to make my overly optimistic hope of publishing Remembered by July 20th. I still plan to have it out this summer, but late-August is looking more like reality.

All this will be dependent upon me working fast and hitting no surprising bumps. Which doesn't seem likely not, but that's why they have the element of surprise attached to them. If I knew when I would have problems I'd be able to start fixing them today. If anyone knows how to predict such things please let me know! adamschristinawriter (at) yahoo. com or via Twitter or Facebook. Yep, I'm desperate. :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Writing Exercises 3

I've done scene Beginnings and Middles and now it's time for Endings. By the time I got to the scene endings chapter in Make a Scene (a really fun writing book that if you are interested in writing you should check out) I will say that all the different beginnings and middles I'd created had started to blend together into a disjointed whole. So I would borrow whichever elements of the previous parts in the endings that I thought were interesting or would work for the type of ending I was doing. I will still try to add the middles I predominately used to help with the flow of the piece.

Zoom-in Ending-follows The Unexpected Revelation

"Where did you get that?" Cara asked. She jabbed her finger at the key Vince was dangling from the chain around his neck.

"I can't tell you."

"Can't or won't?"

Vince shrugged. "Doesn't matter, but I know the key won't fit the lock."

All the excitement fizzled out of Cara. She marched over to the secret closet and jammed the key at the lock again. Vince was right. The tumblers would not turn. Slowly her disappointment escaped through her lips. Her forearm vein pulsed where the bookshelf had pinned it. Each throb was a reminder her pain had been for nothing. Still the key meant something. She studied it closer. There were markings on the head that she could trace. It was a clue, even though it was not the one she wanted. She would find the right key, even if it meant another bookshelf fell on her.

Zoom-out Ending-follows The Unexpected Revelation

Vince hated to see the disappointment cloud Cara's eyes. She tried the lock again but it would not open. With a frustrated groan she stomped back to the living room and tossed the key on the table.

"So what does the key go to?" she asked.

Vince shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know."

Cara frowned. "But you're wearing it around your neck."

"It was just given to me for safe keeping." He should have never showed it to her. By doing so he'd broken at least five rules and could be expelled. He wasn't sure how, but he'd have to steal that key and soon before the others found out and Cara became a target. So many lives had been destroyed already. It shouldn't be possible for a key to be worth more than any human life, but it was.

The Conclusive Ending-follows The Element Danger

"Well, I have to get back to Rachel. Sorry about the damage to your door."

Cara squeezed the key tight at the mention of Rachel enjoying how it dug into her skin. "I wanted to get a new door anyway."

"See ya," and then he was gone.

She watched the door scrap a path in the sawdust and caught a glimpse of Vince's green shirt through the hole and then the hall was empty.

"You have to get used to this." And for the first time her heart agreed. She was tired of hoping, tired of waiting. Besides she had the lock and the key. They would consume her time and for now that was enough.

Thus ends the scenes of Cara and Vince. At least for now. :) How are your scene endings going?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Why I Don't Write Love Stories

If you've read my books you may have noticed that there isn't really a strong romantic theme in them. I've been asked why this is before and here's my answer. Any writer knows that if you want to become popular one of the fastest and easiest ways to do this is to write romance. It's a huge market. HUGE. The love triangle, the happily ever after, the fears and doubts that another person doesn't feels the same. All of these make a romance interesting and keep readers wanting more.

But despite my knowing this I've hesitated to write it myself. Not because I think romance is too fluffy, or unrealistic (although that might depend a bit on the book), but because it's something I haven't experienced myself. I take great pride in writing out of my own life experiences or using elements of my understanding of reality to flavor my works. Even if they are exactly the same, for instance I have never been in prison, but I have been stuck in a room for days with only some books I've already read and a deck of cards. While they are not the same physically, the feelings for both are. I've eaten a chunk of bread after a roach crawled out of the loaf I tore it from. I don't know if I'd ever eat bread with a roach still in it, but I know what it's like to be hungry and not care what was crawling on my food.

There is truth to the saying that writers should write what they know, because by doing this they can make what they write come to life. It's a saying I learned before I really considered writing as a career and in my teen years I even made a list of what I could write about based on what I know. It was a bit depressing. My list of things I could write about was pretty small and definitely not exciting.

But what that saying does not mean, something I've learned over the years, is that you have to murder someone to write about a killer. There is always an element to which writers pull from similar experiences to describe things in a way that is realistic. Like the prison thing. If I write about that I pull on my own experience, imagine what it would be like to be in the prison my character is in and then combine the two.

However, with romance there is this mental wall for me. Romance is not just about describe the way cold water feels on your feet after they've been burnt in the scorching sun. It's a combination of feelings from a relationship between two people. And relationships cannot be faked. If they are the reader can't connect and it will seem contrived. There are some aspects of romance I could write about. I know what it's like to have a crush, to like and possibly even love a guy, but I don't know what it feels like when a guy loves me. I could fake it. I've read enough romance to steal the experience from others, but I don't want to do that. I would only be relying on my imagination which would make the end result taste a bit off, a bit stale. It would not ring true to reality. One day I expect to be able to write romance--I even have the book ideas ready, but until then I'll have to wait.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Official!

The Compound is up! I was able to get everything done in time. Whew!

It's currently free and available only from Smashwords as an e-book. I'll post a note once it reaches the Barnes & Noble site. I've never tracked it before so I'm not sure how long it will take for Smashwords to have it posted there.

There is a sample of The Compound here and the short description is:

Allia Washington watches as another young Compound candidate is wheeled into the science lab for emergency care. The boy is only 12 years old and will not survive to see another sunrise. This means a new position will open in the candidate program and the Compound will be looking for new applicants, the first of which is Allia's four-year-old son. She knows the program will kill her son and she has to find a way to keep him out of it. But protecting her son will take more than solving the mystery that kills all of the candidates too soon. She may be forced to do something drastic, anything to save her son, even if it means she has to defy the Compound itself. This is a short story prequel to The White Lilac a YA dystopia sci-fi novel.                
Once again this short story is FREE! Check it out!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Releasing The Compound

I have finally settled on a date for the release of The Compound. June 20, 2013! Yep. This Thursday. I've got a lot of work to do between now and then, but I'm really excited to see this one come out. Here's a taste of it:

Alarms blared and the warning lights along the hallway flashed as Thirteenth Official Allia Washington pushed the stretcher into the sleeping quarters. Twelve year old Mattai Jokio lay flat on his back, his skin a dark, unhealthy shade of yellow and his eyes twitching back and forth as if they were trying to watch a hummingbird flit between two flowers. Just like the others had been, which was not good for Mattai. And she’d had such hopes that this time the serum would work.

“How long has he been like this?” Allia asked.

“About five minutes now,” the cleaning lady said. She stood in the back of the room where the shadows hid all but the bright blue of her skirt.

Two other officials enter the room, including Ninth Official Yama, who outranked Allia and immediately took over. They lifted Mattai onto the stretcher and rushed him out of the main house, across the Compound and into Science Lab 5. Allia watched from the back of the room as Dr. Vos and his team swarmed around the boy. He was unresponsive. Another bad sign. Hours passed and then it was over.

They covered Mattai in a sheet and transferred the body to the morgue. Tests would be run to discover why his body had shut down, but Allia knew the final conclusion would be the same. Some combination of the DNA splicing and treatments he had been given had done permanent damage until it was only a matter of time. The serum was supposed to stop this, but their current formula had to be missing something. Mattai lasted three months longer than the others and for a few weeks Allia had started to hope, but it had been too soon.

There was a slight resignation to Allia’s steps as she walked back to the main house. It had been a long day and it was only half done. In her 58 years there had been many days like today. It never got easier, but after Britta, her last charge, had died she was determined not to get too close. Even though she had only worked with Mattai for six months, it had still hit her heart like a sledge hammer to see him collapsed on the floor. She overheard Ninth Official Yama say that some of the female officials became emotionally attached to the children, especially if they had also carried future contestants. Over the last 30 years Allia had lost eight pregnancies and three infants because of genetic defects and complications with their DNA splicing. Each loss had taken its toll. She had trouble coping for years and then they promised her they wouldn’t be as experimental. Yet that wasn’t enough, it was only when they also promised that her child would not be placed in the program that she agreed. It was the program that killed almost as often as the genetic complications. The children were pushed too hard.

She entered the main house and took the elevator to the fifth floor, where the nursery was located. Large glass windows lined the hall and she picked a spot near the middle almost directly across from a dark haired four year old boy. He was building a tower with blocks. It was tall, thin and haphazardly twisted from the base up so that it almost looked like a strand of DNA. Allia allowed a small smile. He was a scientist already.

Four years ago she had Brian and although he had not removed the loss of her previous tries, he had softened her heart and made life worth living again. He could not her because the glass was tinted on his side and even if he did Allia knew he wouldn’t rush up to greet her. Even though he was her son she was only allowed four hours a week to spend with him. It was not enough for him to bond with her, however, it was enough for her to feel more strongly about him than she had ever felt for her charges. And she could watch him whenever there was a lull in her duties.

Brian dumped a bucket of blocks onto the floor and began sorting them by color and size. One of the other children, a blonde haired girl around the age of two came over and squatted next to him. She seemed perfectly content to watch and at first Brian held a hand out to protect his tower, but then he relaxed and went back to his building completely ignoring her.

“They are so young.”

Allia glanced behind her and saw First Official Foreman.

“Which one is yours?” he asked, his gaze shifting from her to the children playing.

“Brian, the boy building the tower.”

He nodded. “Mine is Caryn, the girl watching him.”

Neither said anything as Brian’s tower fell. Caryn jumped up and started picking up the blocks that rolled too far. Brian didn’t appear bothered by the destruction. Instead, he tilted his head to one side as if it helped him think of a better way to build the next time. He picked up blocks and started building again.

First Official Foreman cleared his throat. “I heard about your charge.”

“The treatment didn’t work.”

“I am moving you back to full time in Science Lab 2 starting in the morning. I saw some of the notes you were working on and we need to make the proper coding of this treatment a first priority. We can’t afford to lose anyone else. We’re behind schedule as it is.”

Allia closed her eyes a moment. She felt exhausted, but the prospect of being back in the lab sounded much better than meeting a new charge in the morning.

“I will turn in then so I will be properly rested,” she said and turned to leave.

“We have openings in the candidate program now.” First Official Foreman’s voice was so low she almost didn’t hear it, but it made her bones freeze inside of her.

“Not for my son. I have a signed contract,” she said. She turned back to see he wasn’t watching her, but his daughter.

“I know,” he said, with a sigh. “But if we don’t find a treatment that works we might need anyone we can get.”