Quiet Little Signing
Here I sit in an independent bookstore. Around me are shelves with masterful creations by some pretty amazing authors I admire. I have a plate of cookies in front of me for the guests. And my copies of my book are on display.
Yet no one has come.
It's raining outside. A lovely summer afternoon with all kinds of activities all over town.
Do I dream of book signings with lines out the door? Of course! Do I get upset and feel like my time has been wasted when these smaller signings don't take off? Nah. I can't let it get me down. This quiet time has given me a chance to blog, enjoy a cookie (okay...maybe two...), and sit among the printed books I cherish.
There is a shelf full of books from Marcher Lord Press. Books by people I'm fortunate enough to know. Self-pubbed, indie-pubbed. It's a really neat little place.
SPOILER ALERT: This has nothing to do with writing.
But in a way, it does. So bear with me.
Back in February, I became a working mom for the first time. I know that's kind of an oxymoron because ALL moms work...but I mean I went from being a stay-at-home mom to a working-outside-the-home mom. I was so far outside the home, in fact, I had to travel 2 1/2 hours to get to my new job. I was away from my family 4 days each week, going home only on weekends. Needless to say, I experienced some stress.
Once the school year finished, my family moved to join me. It was a relief, but certainly a transition. One gets used to the circumstances after a while, hard as they are. So we had to learn how to live together again...in a new place...with a whole lot less stuff. We went from a 2 story, 6 bedroom house, to a 3 room apartment.
Before all this happened, I'd lost 50 pounds. Exercise had become my main focus. It was something I could control. I could control my eating habits...and for the first time in my life, I really worked on it. Not easy! When my kids had ice cream, I had to say no...although sometimes, I'd take a bite just to satisfy the craving. I felt great!
But with the stress of being away from my family...and the opportunities to eat out...I hate to admit I've gained some back. I think I'm finally to a point where I'm ready to take that control back, though.
So this morning, instead of hitting my snooze button and clamping my eyes closed, I got up. I took the dog for a 30 minute walk. I'm setting my phone alarm through the day to take walk breaks. I am inspired!
How does this connect to writing?
Well, most authors I've followed online say that authors need to take care of themselves physically. We can't just sit in front of the computer screen each day, scrawling out the brilliance that pours forth from our brains. We have to be people, too. Spend time with family. Take care of our bodies. Perhaps when the inspiration hits full-force, we can fudge that a little, but it is important to stay healthy.
And may I share the inspiration I took in this morning? I saw a playful squirrel run along a brick sign. A dove take flight from a wooden fence, his tail highlighted with sunbeams. A black cat skittering through the parking lot. A waning moon setting over the massive mountain arms that surround the city. A brilliant blue sky, clear and fresh for the day.
Yeah...I'd say it was worth it.
Things I've Learned This Week
This week has taught me a lot as a writer. I'm not talking craft or business...but about me. The person I am and have to be as a writer. That probably sounds odd, so let me explain.
I started this week as my usual introverted writer self, hoping some fabulous agent or publisher would pop out of the blue and offer me a contract. (Okay, so I'm still there on that one, but I know that's a crazy dream that I need to give up!) My sad little book sits on Amazon at the bottom of the sellers' rank, and although I've been told not to pay attention to that, I do. Honestly, it can be discouraging at times.
But on Tuesday, I stepped out of my world to attend a learning session provided by Pikes Peak Writers. I've posted about them before, and I will post about them again. They are a fantastic group of writers. They are supportive and interested in helping those involved grow. The presenter spoke about using social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter, to promote yourself as a writer...not just your book. The insights were most helpful. I never would have thought to do what this person suggested. And it's worked! I am amazed at what's happened over the last few days. Not only have I pressed out of my comfort zone to reach people, but I'm discovering more about myself as a person.
On Wednesday, I went to a critique group, also sponsored by Pikes Peak Writers. (Seriously, awesome group!) The folks around the table encouraged me and gave me constructive feedback that I can apply to my writing. Just spending time in their presence, listening to their critiques of each others' works...I just soaked it in. Love my time there.
Today, I received a rejection from a pretty major publisher. In the past, I probably would have cried. (Okay, I have to admit, a couple of tears leaked out...) I would have been quite discouraged. But this person offered such insight that I felt inspired. I've been stuck in these stories for the longest time, I couldn't see past them. I know I'm not a perfect writer. I still have lots to learn. But I'm also confident that I'm not on the bottom rung. So I'm taking this rejection and turning it around. It's a launching pad for my career.
Looking back, it's been a good week. I've grown as a writer in many different ways. And I plan to continue to do so. Just hope you'll stick with me until I can find that one person in the industry who believes in me...
...which reminds me...another thing I've learned this very day...Rise of the Guardians is a fantastic movie!
Blessings, my friends.
I wanted to share this link with you. I was a guest blogger for Pikes Peak Writers today. Check it out!
Pikes Peak Writers Blog
A History Lesson
Yesterday, we attended a church where my kids will be going to a Vacation Bible Experience this week. They no longer call is Vacation Bible School. I guess "school" is passé. Anyway, the theme is Kingdom Rock--complete with castles, princesses, and knights. The decorations were quite something, and reminded me of my days spent at our Renaissance festival.
So as I tucked my son into bed last night, I asked him if he'd ever heard of King Arthur. He hadn't...so I got to introduce him to the wealth of wonderful stories incorporated in the legend. I have a picture book with some of the stories, and we looked through that quickly. I told him how, when I was in the fourth grade, I was so obsessed with Arthur, I created my own schematic of the Round Table. I still have that somewhere...
I may not be a homeschooling mom. I'm not even a stay-at-home mom anymore, but how neat it was to share this "history" lesson with my boy. As I started thinking about that, a hope began to grow that he would develop a love for knights and chivalry that we could share.
My love for such things is why I began writing my stories. Although they are set in the future and not the bygone times of swordfights and jousting, I still try to convey the heart of the ideal knight. I love the concept of honor, something I fear is severely lacking in our culture today. And mentioned above--chivalry. I would love to see a return to these ideas.
If you've read Asylum, you'll notice a round table. Redic Clairet, as mentioned in the previous post, has some of those same characteristics as Arthur--humility in leadership, gentleness in strength, compassion in defense of the weak. Some things stick with you all your life. I'm thankful for an outlet to share them with the world.
As you go through your day today, I hope you'll encounter someone honorable. Something that fills your heart and inspires you to do the right thing. Something that makes you smile and reminds you of the good King Arthur.
A Father's Day Tribute
My dad--Marty Hodges
Tomorrow is Father's Day. I am thankful to have several men in my life who have demonstrated a fatherly presence. I'm married to a man who is a great father to my kids. And of course, there is my heavenly Father.
But I want to share with you a little about my dad.
Dad passed away three years ago. We didn't always see eye-to-eye. But he was my dad, and I loved him very much. He'd had a lousy childhood, and was an only child. Despite all that, he always provided for us, and was always there when we needed him. He was a math professor. Numbers made sense to him, and he had a remarkable gift of making math understandable for many.
I find my dad popping up in my writing. In Fusion, my main character struggles in her relationship with her father. The problem really falls on her shoulders, but misunderstanding creates tension between the two. Redic Clairet, who appears in several of the Crown's Call novels, is comprised of everything good in my dad. Protector. Advisor. Father. Yeah, my dad is always there.
My dad taught me how to play chess as a child. He had several sets, for playing and for admiring. Since his passing, I am now in possession of his chessboards. They are precious to me. While I enjoyed playing the game with him (I'm certain he let me win most of the time!), I never developed a passion for the game itself. However, I am intrigued with the "idea" of the game. This led to writing Xadrez, a novel based on a human chess match. I created characters to correspond with each chess piece and set the plot amidst a battle between two opposing sides. This one is solely dedicated to my dad.
So, on this Father's Day, I lift my chin and smile at the blue sky. I know my dad is hanging out with God and watching over us until we all get to be together again. My heart is grateful for the things my dad gave me--a love of classical music, a strong sense of being there for family, and a logical, analytical side that often clashes with my creative side. And for the inspiration. For coming back to life through my characters. For loving me across time and space. I miss you, Dad. And I love you.
I regularly check out my book on Amazon. I know the seller's rank numbers are not a good indication of sales, but it's still neat to see. But even beyond that number, I love watching the numbers of reviews! I've heard that if you get 25 reviews, you can consider that a success.
After months of sitting at 23 reviews, I finally got a new one today!
To be honest, it wasn't all that favorable (3 stars). But you know, those reviews are most valuable! Those thoughts help me to be aware of what I need to change in my writing. Things I need to remember and keep in mind. This particular review did pay me a huge compliment in saying that Asylum is well-written. That phrase encourages me so much!
The review is such a powerful tool. I am grateful to all the readers who have taken their time to share their thoughts with me, whether it's been through a review on Amazon or verbally. It's an honor just to know you've invested several hours to take in my worlds! But that you thought it worthy enough to share your opinion...wow!
I do read all the reviews of Asylum I can find. I keep notes, and I intend to make changes for its next printing. These thoughts help to make me a stronger writer, as I can apply the principles to future writings.
So, thank you to those of you who have written reviews. You may never know how much they mean to me, but let me assure you, they mean a lot! And if you're a reader, let me challenge you to write reviews for the books you read. I'm sure those authors feel the same way. Without our readers, our stories would go nowhere.
You guys are awesome!
P.S. You can check out my collection of Asylum reviews here: Asylum Reviews.
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3