Friday, April 28, 2017

My First Time by Debra H. Goldstein

First times can be sweet, scary, not quite perfect, or like a moon rocket perfectly shooting into orbit. There are lots of ways to define first times. A mother recollects the first smile, the step, the first words. A young woman remembers her first heels, first make-up, and a few other firsts I can’t mention in the context of this blog (but feel free to go back in your own mind for a moment). For a writer, there are many firsts that create memories and sensations that can never be duplicated.

I have been fortunate that in my short writing career, there have been many instances of happy dancing. When my essay, Maybe I Should Hug You, won an Alabama Writer’s Conclave Nonfiction Award, I was thrilled. Of course, when MORE Magazine published it online as More Hugs, Less Fear, my feet came off the ground even further.

When I received an email offer of publication for my first book, Maze in Blue, my initial reaction was “Oh, Shit” followed by “No, Shit.” Holding that first book in my hand was almost as much of a high as the moment I held my first child. When six months later, Maze won a 2012 IPPY Award, I was jazzed.

Other writing awards, publication of twenty-four short stories, and the acceptance and publication of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery have made me extremely happy, but they haven’t been “firsts.

This week, I experienced another first that brought me out of the low profile I normally keep. Not only was my first story published in the May/June edition of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, one of the most prestigious magazines that mystery writers die to be accepted by, but my name was included on the cover.  Happy dancing.  Credibility. Excitement. Gratefulness.
I haven’t come down to earth yet, and I hope I don’t for quite some time; however, this first is tinged with a different aspect. It highlights the reality of the choice I made to follow a passion.

One story will not bring me to the same level as the other writers I deeply admire and share the pages with, but it sure is nice rubbing elbows and breathing the same air as them, even for a few minutes. A first that will stay with me no matter how my career continues.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Clicking Our Heels - Writing: Passion or Work?

Clicking Our Heels – Writing: Passion or Work?

Stiletto Gang members all write, but the question is why? Read on to find out whether we consider writing a job, a passion or a hobby and whether our emotional reaction to it has changed.

Kay Kendall – I consider writing to be my calling. I have always written, even in my previous job. I just never wrote fiction before I took it up ca. 1999. I didn’t think I had any stories to tell. Now I do have them. I just needed more confidence, and a bit of age, in order to feel comfortable in telling my stories. 

Linda Rodriguez – To me, writing is my vocation, which means it’s my job, but it’s also a passion.
If I never needed to earn another dollar again, I would still write.

Sparkle Abbey – It’s always been a passion and for both of us simply a part of who we are. Like many others we’ve always written and have had a love for words. Since signing a contract for our first four books in 2010, it’s had to become more of a job because we have deadlines to deal with. That’s been an adjustment but one we’re okay with. We just signed a contract for more books, so we’re excited to continue writing the Pampered Pets mystery series. 

Cathy Perkins – Writing is both a (second) job and a passion. Being time constrained takes a toll on me, especially when my creative side has to take a back seat to the part of my life that comes with a paycheck. Fortunately, my husband sleeps through me turning on the light at 3 A> to scribble down scene ideas and snippets of dialogue. What, your subconscious doesn’t keep right on writing at night? 

Kimberly Jayne – Writing is definitely not a hobby for me. It’s a job that I’m passionate about, although I dislike referring to it as a “job,” which for me carries a negative connotation. It reminds me too much of the day jobs I’ve had over my lifetime that I didn’t want to go to each day but, of course, had to. Writing has become more important to me over the years because I feel, like many, that time is running out to achieve the many writing goals I had set for myself when I was in my twenties. If fulfills me in a way it didn’t previously as well, which I think comes from acquiring the confidence and competence in my skills and talents that I didn’t have when I was young. 

Debra H. Goldstein – Passion. I walked away from a lifetime judicial appointment to pursue writing, at whatever level I am capable of, because of the joy it gives. 

Paffi S. Flood – As a job. I have a routine to where I’m at my laptop every morning at 9:00 to do something. It isn’t always writing. It could be something as simple as plotting out a scene for clarity,
but I do it. That’s the only way I can make progress on my manuscript.

Jennae Phillippe – All of the above. Sometimes it feels like more work than other times. I am at my best when I can tap into writing as a passion, and at my worse when it feels like a chore. I think when I start to think like a publisher and imagine what sort of stories are marketable, it feels the most like a job, and when I think like that 14-year-old kid who just wanted to write fantastical stories, I enjoy it the most. I just need to think like a marketing savvy 14-year-old and I’ll crack the writing code. 

Bethany Maines – With my day job as a graphic designer, I’ve learned that having a passion IS work. But writing has evolved over time to be something that was just for me, into something that is more outward facing and shaped for an exterior audience. 

Paula Gail Benson – Yes. Since 2013, when I seriously began making submissions, it has been a job. It remains a passion. It’s no longer just a hobby, because even if I’m writing to help a group with which I’m affiliated, I have to take credit for my prose and know it will be judged with professional standards.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Short post

This week is an exciting week for me as I will be awarded the MWA Raven Award on Thursday. I have to give a speech. Too frightening for me, but I’m going to do it. I wrote it. I read it out loud. Made changes and I hope I don’t ramble when I get up to the podium. All my life, I shied away from public speaking. This will definitely be a stepping out of my comfort zone moment.

So, tell me, how do you cope with stepping out of your comfort zone?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Life Lessons

by Linda Rodriguez

I’ve been around for a lot more than a few years. And, stubborn as I can be, I’ve learned some things along the way. Oddly enough, it’s not the big lessons that have made a difference in my life, but a series of small rules for happy living that I’ve learned to make a part of my daily life. 

  1. Do at least one thing a day that gives you pleasure. 
  2. Live your life in chapters. Focus on the chapter you’re in now. You don’t have to do/have/be it all now!
  3. Don’t get overwhelmed. Break everything into baby steps. One page a day is a book in a year. Fifteen minutes a day on any overwhelming or distasteful task adds up and eventually will lengthen on its own. The ordinary kitchen timer is your friend.
  4. Always clean up your messes.
  5. Be kind to yourself and others.
  6. Give something back.
  7. Use it, appreciate it, or lose it. Your body, mind, belongings. Remember, unapplied knowledge is wasteful (f not tragic).
  8. Make time to do often what you do well and enjoy. Spend time with people who think you’re great. When the world isn’t noticing you, notice and reward yourself. Give others recognition, in turn.
  9. Make quiet time for yourself alone every day. And a corollary is have a place, even merely a spot, that’s just for you. Use it for devotions, meditation, journaling, or just reading. Give yourself 10 minutes of silence every day.
  10. Pay attention to your breath. Conscious breath control can help you control stress, worry, and fear and replace them with calm and peace.
  11. You create the path you’ll walk on in life with your words. Think before you speak. Remind yourself that, to a great extent, you are creating your reality when you speak.
  12. Pay attention to your own emotional needs and desires.
  13. Decide what you want your life to look like. Write it down. In detail.
  14. Act “as if.” Imagine if your desired life were here now, if you could not fail. What would you do? Do it.
  15. Conserve your energy. Rid your life of energy thieves—negative people and habits.

What about you? What rules would you add to my list?