Tupps_Mist_Teasers_Face02_02Can you believe it is already the beginning of February? Time moves so fast and if we don’t have a plan or a vision for our future; we can miss out altogether.

Now that my second book, Shadow of the Mist, is out and available for sale I am beginning to think about what might be next for me and for my character Selena Goodwin.

As for Selena, I already have a direction and readers will be happy to know that the next couple of books are finished and in the editing process. But what about for the author?

The foundation of my life is based in faith and a love of God. However, there are days when I wake up and plan my day without first asking for guidance and it is usually those days when things fall a little flat. I’m reminded of the scripture from James that speaks to that folly:

James 4:13-15 The Message (MSG)

13-15 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”

So, if it is God’s will; here is my hope for the future:

My first hope and prayer is for the continued good health of my husband and the health and well-being of our entire family. As a writer, my hope is that my books find an audience. I hope that the message of trust, faith and perseverance is one that resonates with readers.

I hope that the sale of my books generates enough revenue to provide for my family but also enough to give back to those in need.  Over the years, many people have walked into our lives and provided comfort, encouragement, their time and even their money to assist us during our challenges and I want to be able to pay it forward.

I long for the opportunity to reach out to other families experiencing similar health and medical challenges and to be a voice and a spirit that provides comfort. I want to reach out to other working women who want to become authors and offer my advice and assistance and encouragement.

As I look back on my life thus far, I know with certainty that when my faith wavered or my mood was low that God provided just the right person or experience to help me through. I want to be a similar vessel for others and I believe that the exposure I may receive as an author of the Shadow Realm series will be just the right catalyst to place me in the right place, at the right time for the right person on any given day.

Being a writer is so much more to me than just telling a story. At various times in my life it has provided different things; distraction, laughter, answers, and comfort.

I look forward to this next chapter, not only in the lives of the characters living between two realms but also in the life of this humble writer.

Psalm 31:15-16The Message (MSG)

Desperate, I throw myself on you:
you are my God!
Hour by hour I place my days in your hand,
safe from the hands out to get me.
Warm me, your servant, with a smile;
save me because you love me.

 

 


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Over the past few years, since my first book, Shadow Tears, was published, I have had a number of people ask when I thought I would quit my job. At some of my book signings I have had even more would-be authors tell me that they can’t wait to publish their book so they can quit their day job.

Let me just say – don’t do it. Not if you want to pay the bills.

As writers we need to adjust our expectations of just what our book will do for us financially. If the only reason you are writing a book is so that you can quit your day job, you might want to rethink your expectations.

Gone are the days of $100,000 advances from well-known publishing houses for a first time author. In fact, were there ever those days?  According to the latest Bowker Report (October 9, 2013), over 391,000 books were self-published in the U.S. in 2012. That is more than 1,000 titles every day for readers to choose from.

And what about the cost of the book?

book retail

Let’s just do the math. The average mass market retail price of a book is just over $7.00 each. If you sell books on a major website like Amazon, you have to account for the cost to print the book and the cost of Amazon’s take. Which means you would have to sell about 50 books each day in order to make about $50,000 a year.

That is a harsh reality.

However, if you are a true writer, someone who just has to tell a story or share information; you are most likely motivated more by sharing your words than you are making a living. I would encourage you to set realistic expectations.

Now that isn’t to say that you can’t make a living out of self-publishing your books. I have seen it done and I look forward to that day, but it takes times. You have to be patient. You also have to be active.

Here are a few things I have learned as a newly published author:

  • It takes time to get the finished product ready for sale. I started writing my first book and it ended up being so long that when I finished the editing process, thanks to Lisa and her team at Halo, I discovered that one book was really more like five books.
  • Authors who have created a series of books and continue the story of characters that readers come to know and love; are more likely to make a living from their book sales. It isn’t a “one and done” job.
  • Life interferes with the best laid plans. I thought my third book would be ready much faster than it will be because of family circumstances. You have to be prepared for anything.
  • You have to actively market your book. Like the girl who sits at home waiting for someone to ask her to the prom, unless people know you don’t have a date – the phone isn’t going to ring. You have to get out there and market your book.
  • You have to love what you do. The only way you will persevere is if you really love writing. Unless you are wealthy and don’t have to work; writing will become a third full time job; behind the actual job that gives you a pay check and the full time job of caring for your family and home.

All that being said; it is all worth it. Holding your first book in your hands, seeing people read your books, watching the sale numbers on Amazon and Barnes and Noble; well there just aren’t words for that satisfaction.

Being able to tell friends and family that you are a published author is amazing. Going to a networking event and introducing yourself as an author is a true wow moment.

Consider the questions that Entrepreneur Magazine contributor Lisa Girard offers in the article 10 Questions to Ask Before You Quit Your Day Job. Being a writer is similar to starting a new business. Often entrepreneurs have to work at the new company full time while still working for someone else so they can afford their venture.

If you have a story that you want to share, I would encourage you to start writing and then continue writing every day. Keep at it. You can do it. Just make sure you set realistic expectations as it relates to when you can quit your day job.

 


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12721911_sSince I wrote my first book, Shadow Tears, and subsequently outlined and wrote additional books in the series, while my children were still young; I’m often asked how I managed it.

It wasn’t easy.

Let me first start by saying that my initial motivating factor for the stories was as a way to distract and entertain my children during a very difficult time in our family. My husband was undergoing extensive treatment for cancer and there were hours, days and weeks that I spent alone with my children while he recovered.

The process began like any other nighttime story you tell your children: “once upon a time…” However, soon my imagination took over, characters developed in my mind and the stories just started to flow. It was all verbal. I had nothing on paper. Not until my son said, “So where can I get a copy of this book?”

And so began the process of writing down the stories I had shared and putting them into book format.

There are a number of great techniques for finding time to write. For me, I would use the times the children were occupied with homework, toys or even sleeping to let my fingers do the walking over the keyboard. My children weren’t infants, my daughter was a toddler and my son was in elementary school at the time, and they were able to entertain themselves for periods of time.

However, I would also involve them in the process. One of the keys to writing success is to write about something you know. And although I don’t live between two realms like my key character, Selena Goodwin many of her challenges, desires and dreams were based on actual stories from my life or from those close to our family.

The familiarity of the stories and the creative joy I felt from putting them into a compelling sci-fi, fantasy novel helped fuel my desire.  I MADE time to write.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took me a decade to bring the first book to print, Shadow Tears, but then the process was in place and shortly thereafter I published the second book in the series, Shadow in the Mist. The rest of the books in the series are already in draft form so I hope to bring out the next book rather quickly.

And it all started with finding a way to incorporate time to write while caring for my family.

They say that if you want something done, give it to a busy person, they’ll take care of it. The same is true as a working mother of two, caring for my husband; you just find time to get everything done.

For me, writing was also an opportunity to remove myself from the stress and seriousness of our circumstances at the time. I looked forward to those minutes, however, limited, when I could escape into the life of Selena.

If you are a young mother or father caring for young children and want to find time to write, here are a few tips:

  • If you are a morning person, get up 30 minutes before everyone else and attack the page while your mind is fresh.
  • Conversely, if night is best, wait until your children are down for the night. The dishes can wait – hit the keyboard for a few, uninterrupted minutes of writing.
  • Carry a small recorder in your purse or in the car. While carpooling your kids from one activity to another or waiting outside the school to pick them up; use the time to talk your book out loud. There is even affordable voice recognition software like Dragon that will turn your words into a Word document.
  • Trade help with friends. If you have neighbors with children, ask if they’ll take your children for an afternoon so you can write and then offer to do the same for them on another day.
  • Always carry a notebook; you just never know when you might have a few minutes to jot down a scene, a conversation between characters or just brilliant ideas that happen to come to you.
  • Depending on the age of your children; having an official writing time for all of you. Everyone sit at the kitchen table and you can all work on writing your book. This is also a great way to help young children with their writing, spelling, idea development and understanding cause and effect.

Whatever way you find to grab a few minutes to write, just keep doing it. It isn’t a race to type “the end.” There have been many popular books that took decades to complete before becoming best sellers. Hang in there!

Visit me on Facebook and share your story ideas and challenges. We can all help encourage each other to carry on. We must not disappoint the Muse!


Happiness mother holding her daughter's face in hands.

Remember those fairy tales of our youth where the ending was always so uplifting? “And they lived happily ever after.” How many of you are living a happily ever after life? Me neither.

Certainly when my husband and I got married and had our two beautiful children it never occurred to us that he would get cancer. Life is messy.

And sometimes the choices we make can be messy as well.

Part of the joy I have in writing about Selena and her cohorts in the Shadow Realm series is the fact that Selena doesn’t always make the best choices. Just like real life – the consequences are sometimes undesirable and can even put us in harm’s way. Perhaps our circumstances are not as dire as Selena as she lives between the mortal and shadow realms facing certain death around every corner; but life can get tough.

As I have watched my children grow into young adults I have had the privilege of being the fly on the wall; listening as they work out problems with their friends and attempt to make good choices. Let me start out by saying that they are good kids and have wonderful friends and I am so very proud of the adults they have become. However, they haven’t always made the decisions I would have made for them.

That is the really messy part of being a parent.

When your kids are newborn and just learning about themselves and their surroundings, you wish they were older and could communicate to you what hurts or why they are crying. “If only they were teens, then life would be so much easier.”

Couple and children in crystal clear water

As those of you of teens know; the teen years can be much harder than when they were in diapers. The tears are for much more emotional reasons and the pain can be devastating. As parents, we have to trust that we have instilled in our children the power of knowing right from wrong and the strength to make the tough choices. When they were young, we could make the decisions for them, but as they get older we have to stand by and watch as they make decisions for themselves.

Michael Strahan, pro football player, Hall of Famer and talk show host on the Emmy award winning show Live with Kelly and Michael, recently talked about this part of parenting.

The discussion was around money and how often times family will come to him, knowing he is wealthy, and ask for money. His answer? “No.”

Although he could fix whatever their financial issue is, he believes that people need to learn the lessons for themselves or they will never fully appreciate all they have or be able to successfully stand on their own.

That is a tough lesson.

Now I am not suggesting that you throw your kids out the door or deny them something you believe they need; I’m just saying that sometimes life is hard.

Happiness mother holding her daughter's face in hands.

My best advice is to listen. Too often we want to jump in with the answers or the solution or even take over and fix it for them. But just like Selena Goodwin in the Shadow Realm series, when they are able to make their own decisions; regardless of the outcome, they stand just a little bit taller.

Be there. Listen. Love. Comfort.

Life may be messy, but this too shall pass. Here is a scripture that provides assurance:

11 I know the plans I have for you,” announces the Lord. “I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come.

Jeremiah 29:11New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)

 

 


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34399240_sHappy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and are looking forward to the possibilities of 2016.

I have decided that rather than focus on resolutions this year, I would look to find ways to connect with readers on a more personal level.

I am certainly active on Facebook and hope you have visited the page and joined the conversation but sometimes meeting and connecting in person is best.

I love the characters that I have created in the Shadow Realm series and look forward to sharing even more Selena Goodwin adventures in the near future, but I feel that I have an even deeper, more valuable message to share. That is why I am seeking opportunities to speak within the community and perhaps even consider webinars so that I can connect with a larger more global audience.

What do I want to share? Well, over the years since I first started writing Shadow Tears I have found that people I encounter are interested in why I started writing and certainly they express an interest in my books and the characters I have developed.

However, the unique nature of my writing stems from the fact that I began the process of creating the stories while my husband was very ill and my children were young. Through that process I have learned other lessons:

  • Don’t Give Up
  • Live Your Dreams
  • Find the Positive and Persevere
  • Coping with a Serious Family Illness
  • Being a Writer with Young Children

I believe that I have a positive message to share and look forward to developing programs that will inspire and educate those that attend.

So look for me in your local library or chamber meeting. If you have a group or organization that would be interested in one of these messages, please contact me directly so that we can discuss the opportunity further.

Shadowtears88@Yahoo.com

In the meantime, come back and visit this blog periodically as I will also share messages of positivity and hope here. We may not know what lurks in the shadows, but with faith we can conquer whatever life hands us.

 

 


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30189585_sMany people have asked me how I have been able to write my Shadow Realm series while raising two children and caring for my husband.

My initial goal was just to put my stories on paper. After several months of telling stories to my children they asked for a book of the stories that they could hold and read over and over. Of course, these were just made up stories I created while we waited, sometimes for hours, during my husband’s medical treatments and surgeries.

But their desire for a book to hold was what spurred me on to create something for them, perhaps a book that I could copy at the local office supply store. Working on this goal helped us all think about something other than the real life health concerns; it was perhaps a distraction; an escape from the pain we were experiencing.

We have to press on; giving up is never an option. I do wonder where the strength comes from but my husband and I have a strong faith and we know that God is with us, helping us through each circumstance. And we need to do our part.

Focusing on a dream; whether it is writing or drawing or helping others through a charitable organization is a great way to generate positive energy that helps not only yourself but those around you.

They say that laughter is the best medicine. I think it has something to do with the positive nature of humor and also its ability to take us out of our current circumstance and help us think of something else.

Working toward your dreams has the same benefit. And who knows what will happen? As I said, I just wanted a printed copy of my stories for my children and now I have a book series published and available on Amazon. I never would have imagined it possible but now that I have started with the publishing process, I will continue. And hopefully my stories will help take readers out of their circumstance for a little while and focus on Selena Goodwin and her adventures.

My other dream is to be a source of encouragement to others and so if you are going through a hard time in your life and want to talk or have questions about how positive energy can help you power through; contact me on my Facebook page.


7533827_sI started writing my Shadow Realm saga when my two children were pre-teens and they have now safely navigated through their teen years. If you are a parent, you know how changing those years can be.

Not only have my own two children experienced their teens but so have Selena and the other wonderful characters in my books. And as most fiction writers do, I have formulated part of their fictional journey using stories from the lives of my own children and their friends.

Our house has always been grand central station with all ages.  My family says I have a gift of listening without judging.  My children and their friends seem to feel comfortable enough to unload their concerns, fears and challenges while hanging at our house.

Some of their problems and my own problems as a teenager have been written into the Shadow Realm Saga with a twist added to it. Part of the reality of life is that we don’t always make the best choices; however, many times the lessons from which we learn the most are those that started out with a bad decision.

So like real life, my characters aren’t always going to make the right choice.

Matthew 7:1-2 ” “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

I hope the reason that my children and their friends feel comfortable sharing is because they know that, no matter what, I will listen and try to offer guidance without judgement.

I do have my own philosophy when dealing with issues. My dad is a great man and is the one who taught me how to listen.  Many don’t realize how adolescents can actually talk through their issues and come to the right conclusions by us guiding them with simple questions as they open up.

I have used this with my own children who are now 20 and 23.  As a parent I have a right to be upset but if they are willing to be open with then we discuss the problem without punishment. I have learned that if we allow our children to talk through their problems, they often discover the solution without any dictates from us.

It is gratifying to listen to them hash through their issues and then thank me for helping.  All I do most of the time is sit there.  Listening.  Adolescents and people in general are dear to my heart.  In some ways, I feel like Selena at times.

Listening has been helpful, not only as a parent, but also as a writer. Incorporating situations, dialogue and emotion from real situations helps to provide a layer of authenticity to my stories. It also helps bring them to life for me, as a writer, and hopefully for you, as a reader.

If you are struggling with a story idea or if you have teenagers that you struggle to connect with, drop me an email or leave a comment on my Facebook page. I’m here to listen.