Discovering a Story Everywhere

Archive for January, 2016

Watching Your Words Carefully in Communication

slip-up-709045__180Too many people just react and speak without stopping to think about how their words can come across to the person they are addressing. Lately I’ve been getting messages from others in the book industry that obviously were sent without the writer thinking of how their words could be received. Their words come across as rude and presumptuous. My reaction? Not what the writer was looking for.

One writer approached me for a book review. When I accepted his book, he continued to inform me that the cover of one of my books was poorly done and would be glad to do another one for me. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how that could ever be perceived as polite. In fact, it was quite rude. What would he say if I told him that? The result? I’m not reviewing his book. He just lost a possibly positive review because he didn’t stop and think about what he said before he hit the send button. He should have kept his mouth shut.

Another author requested a book review. Then told me that my site was too beneath her book. From there, she began to trash me online and on Amazon. Not a good way to get readers. She just got on my do not work with list.

Now, I do want to say that this happens in all aspects of life. I got an email from an aunt just yesterday that was very condescending and rude. Discovered she didn’t mean it that way, but…wow! It came across that way to anyone who read it. Fights can start over such things.

The point here is to remind you to watch what you say in your communications. Don’t write something and just send it off. Let it set and come back to it. You’ll find mistakes and where you worded something wrong. Have someone else read it especially if it is a sensitive topic or extremely important. It is never a bad idea to have a second set of eyes. Always go with better safe than sorry. Remember that you can’t take it back. Damage done could be permanent and bite you in the rear later. Burning bridges is rarely a good thing especially when you are wanting to move forward in your career.

Getting Material at Work

partnership-526413__180If you are a writer, you’re probably discovering that inspiration can be found anywhere. Seriously, it can be found at any moment of the day in any situation no matter where you are. I’ve found inspiration at family gatherings and even riding the bus to work. Everywhere inspiration is found. One place you can find a ton of material is where you work. Don’t believe me? Let me tell about my typical work day.

During the day, I used to work as a barista at a coffee shop. At first, I looked at it as just a job to bring in extra income. I have to admit that I even looked at it resentfully as time away from my writing. This especially became true when I was given more responsibility there. But eventually I found a ton of material presenting itself at every moment while I was serving coffee. Stories were hitting me left and right.

Need character material? I found a ton at work. I found so many different character traits. There was the one customer who didn’t like anything made for her. From her, I learned how to describe her facial expressions and physical actions. I also learned how to word dissatisfaction. She gave me the material I needed to appropriately describe how someone like that in one of my books acts. Shoot, she had helped create a character or two.

Then there is the businessman who is all business and is rude with a cell phone on his ear Monday through Friday but on the weekend is an entirely different and relaxed man. He walks up and refuses to order his drink. He will put up his fingers showing a one or a two. That means he will either be just getting his drink which is customized or getting his wife’s as well which is also customized. During the week, he is not exactly a pleasant man. But I know how to describe a character now who is like him.

I’ve changed jobs since then and still finding so much in the way of material. I work in an office now managing inventory and arranging some transportation of goods. I interact with co-workers in the office and many remotely as well as with trucking companies, import brokers, and our suppliers both domestic and foreign. Talk about a plethora of material for my writing! I have the drama queen in the cubicle next to me who can take anything small and make a disaster out of it. I’ve learned to describe her antics quite well. Things happen that could becomes stories like the time something stunk up one of the trucks. They pulled a pallet of product aside and found the source, what looked like a dead snake. Later we found out that it was a piece of rotten bacon that had been wedged in a groove within the truck and pulled up when the pallets had been pushed in. So many story possibilities.

No matter what you do on your job, you can get material for your writing. Characters are there for the taking. Scenarios are there for you to pick up and run with. I had a great one come out of the blue when inanimate objects kept seeming to have a life of their own. A plate dropped after a cup did without anyone touching them. My boss picked up the plate and had it ‘talk’ to me is a sassy manner. It hit me like a bolt of lightning. What if the objects in the café came to life after dark and talked about the customers and employees? That would be so cool. Thus a short story was born.

Look around you at work. Take a scenario or a person and write a story about them. It doesn’t have to be a novel. Write a short story. It can be fun and very therapeutic.

Making Time for Sanity

gorilla-448731__180Writers have to make time for sanity. Yes, we struggle with it, and it doesn’t always involve our writing. Sometimes it involves our daily life. Insanity can be found anywhere and at any time in every person’s life. As a writer, you have to make the time for sanity and seek it out to prevent complete madness which is usually right around the corner.

There are times when you have to find sanity away from your story. Yes, your own writing can drive you crazy. It could be the fact that a scene is not working out as you would like. Maybe you want to continue writing, but nothing is coming to you. It is not uncommon for a writer to struggle with a scene for days or weeks trying to get it hammered out. That alone can drive an author to insanity. They have to get away from it. That means getting completely away from the story. Walk away from the computer. Don’t even interact on Facebook or Twitter. Put the computer away, and don’t even look at your phone. Let your mind rest from focusing on your story. You’d be surprised how much you need such a getaway.

When you pull away and let a version of sanity into your life, you’ll find your mind clearing up which in turn lets your muse recharge. It is like a mini-vacation. Granted life is not really free from insanity. It is just a different form which can be refreshing all by itself. It’s different. It is something to give your mind something else to focus one which can free your muse up from the constraints you unknowingly are putting on her/him.

Then there is the sanity from the real world. You have to escape that as well. Then you can turn to your writing. That usually mean reality has turned you into a mad person and you have to leave it to find peace. Then your writing becomes your sanity oasis. See what I mean?

Insanity reigns everywhere. You really can’t escape from it, but you can learn to manage it by creating times and space to run to the various forms of it and it’s close relative sanity.

6 Sentence Sunday

How about a glimpse into upcoming release The Redeemed Cursed?

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Meghan hung her head. “Okay, you caught me. The reporter in me can’t seem to go off the clock.”

“You’re not supposed to or there would be less news to report. Let’s just say that it might be more trouble than it’s worth for now.”

She opened her mouth to inquire further on his statement, but they were interrupted by a scream.

Dealing With My Own Self Doubts

angst-807726__180An author’s own self-doubt can be more destructive than all one star reviews combined. Okay, maybe not but darn close. But it is very powerful, more powerful than most people imagine. I face it every day.

For one thing, I have very low self-esteem. This is something I’ve struggled with most of my life. If you don’t experience this, you cannot understand how damaging this can be. You question everything you do and say and feel about half an inch tall. You never feel good enough to do anything. That can be hard when you want to be an author. It can be hard when you want to accomplish anything in life.

I had one person tell me that it shouldn’t be such a big deal for authors to hear feedback. Boy, they had no idea. Feedback is crucial to an author. It doesn’t have to be a rave review every time. I just need to hear that I can do it, that there is potential in my work. I know I’m not ready for the bestsellers list, but did I entertain you? Do I have potential to get there?

This is something I have dealt with my entire life. Just when I think I can do something, I hear a word or a phrase from someone and it all disappears.

The Founding of the Witness Protection Program

gangster-539993__180Many stories have been written or put on the big screen that involve the Federal Witness Protection Program. It is a semi-secretive program designed to protect those who come forth to provide evidence against criminals the government is interested. They tend to be high-profile and powerful enough to strike fear in most potential witnesses. Many witnesses feel that if they do come forth only the witness protection program can save their lives.

Let’s start off by saying that the official name for the program is not the Federal Witness Protection Program. That is the name that society has placed on it and is recognized everywhere including the U.S. government. And it is not run by the FBI like so many people think. I did not realize that it is the U.S. Marshals Service that runs the Witness Security Program. You learn something new every day.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service site the purpose of the program is to provide “for the security, health and safety of government witnesses, and their immediate dependents, whose lives are in danger as a result of their testimony against drug traffickers, terrorists, organized crime members and other major criminals.” This program was set up in 1970 under the Organized Crime Control Act which was created as a direct result of a mafia informant who came forth but was fearful of his life. The government wanted the mob family so badly, they agreed to protect him. Thus was born the Witness Security Program.

The site announces that they have protected over 8,500 people and their immediate family members. According to them, no one has ever been harmed under their protection when the rules have been followed. I can only assume that some idiot called up an old friend and let the cat out of the bag. You’re on your own then.

Now, in my story, The Cost of Second Chances, I have a unique version of the program. This is one that is not under the official umbrella and is more done as a side covert project. Why? Because the one in charge has a gut feeling something is not right and the normal process has been compromised. He brings in a black op man who is ready to hang up his hat and asks him to take a woman under his custody possibly for life as his wife. Yes, I know that would never happen, but then again this is a fictional story and the circumstances were set up where it had to happen. Throughout the story, Alex uses his contacts in the agent world to keep tabs on others and to get help when he needs to.

Shapeshifters or Werewolves?

werewolf-620743__180I have had a steady debate with a dear friend over whether or not Slaton and his tribe in Deep Connections were shapeshifters or werewolves. With determination, I stand by the fact the men in the tribe are shapeshifters. She swears they are werewolves. We go back and forth over it with neither one relenting. Let’s look into this more, and I’ll show you what I mean.

A shapeshifter is a creature, man or animal, that can change into another creature at will. They can become whatever they are designed to change into whenever they feel like it. That is what I have Slaton and his family as in the Connections trilogy. They can change into wolves for men, and the women can turn into eagles any time they need to which is part of the plot. When their tribe is threatened, they change into their animal forms in order to fight the threat and survive. This ability was a gift from the spirits for survival and protection.

A werewolf is someone who is forced to change into a wolf. Typically it is because of a full moon which draws the werewolf into wolf form usually with the result of blood and carnage. The will does not factor into the change from human to ravage animal. The person has been cursed or has been bitten by a werewolf in order to become one. Also, it typically is only with humans. You could say they have a disease.

To many people out there, a werewolf is anyone who changes into a wolf. It doesn’t have to be at will or controlled by the moon or other outside source. I stand by the definition that a werewolf is one that cannot control the change. He is at the mercy of the forces around him. A shapeshifter is in control. He can become one whenever he wants. A werewolf tends to be vicious and unable to control his blood thirst. A shapeshifter does not kill everything in sight. He changes with a purpose in mind and only deals with that and not the desire to eat and drink blood.

What do you think? Are werewolves and shapeshifters the same? If asked, the Lightfoot’s tribe are made up of shapeshifters. They are in complete control and not driven by lust for blood. I’d be interested in your take on this.

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