Can 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.
Since 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!
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.”
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.
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)
I am so excited. Seeing your hard work come to life and be available for readers is more than just a dream come true; it is truly a blessing.
This past week, the second book in my Shadow Realm saga, Shadow in the Mist, became available and I’m thrilled. It seems like a long time coming and yet just a blink of an eye since I sat with my children in that long ago hotel room across from the hospital. My husband was undergoing another surgery for his cancer and the kids and I sat together praying and hoping for the best. But as much as our children love their father, they were children (just eight and eleven at the time) and their attention span was a fluid thing. Soon they were looking for new distractions and in an effort to keep them stationary and entertained, I begin to spin a yarn.
Together we sat, hours on end, trying to keep our minds occupied. As a mom, I wanted to offer them comfort and yet to dwell on the reality of the moment wasn’t really a great plan. The kids were so brave, never crying, and yet in the hotel room there was a dark bathroom with a window that, at night, became a point of fear. On raining nights, the drops of water would run down the window pane almost representing my children’s unshed tears.
Our conversation revolved around fear and the “boogie man” and my youngest talked about how lucky she was to have a father who could keep her safe. Not every child is as blessed. Her comments led to the development of Selena’s relationship with her adopted father, Shep.
My first book, Shadow Tears, is still a very personal endeavor as it came directly from those dark moments in our lives. However, as time passed, the story grew and soon my children, Tyler and Meggan, began adding to the tale. The stories are relatable to them as they feature a young girl, Selena, who struggles with real life challenges, not just of surviving her teen years and navigating all that entails but also the fictional existence of living between three realms.
Shadow in the Mist continues to tell the story of Selena and the adventures and challenges she faces along the way.
It has been almost 13 years since we first sat huddled together praying for their dad’s recovery and we thank God each day for the blessing he is in our lives. His health continues to have periodic challenges but he is with us, loving us and continuing to keep us all safe.
I hope you love Shadow in the Mist as much as I have loved writing it. The truly exciting thing is that Selena’s story is just beginning. There is something so satisfying about finding a character that you love and can relate to and being able to follow her over many years.
My readers will hopefully be happy to know that I have already penned many more stories in the Shadow Realm saga, each more exciting and intriguing as the last. If you are new to the Shadow series, I would encourage you to pick up the first in the series so that you can learn more about Selena from the beginning however, each book will stand on its own as a fun and exciting read for you and your children.
Come visit me on Facebook on the Shadow Realm page. I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments and suggestions!