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April 2016

Remember to Dream Big! Once More!

dream bigEverywhere I look lately people seem to be stressed out—floating through life uninspired. If they have big dreams, you wouldn’t know it by talking with them. Sure, life is hard and it’s easy to let our dreams slip away. They become more of an unrealistic fantasy than a possibility. I’ve told you before, and I’ll probably tell you a few million times more if that’s what it takes, but please DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!

Did you know Morgan Freeman didn’t land his first big movie role until he was over fifty years old? Let that sink in a moment. He had done some work on stage and in television, but he didn’t make his true mark on cinema until he was the big 5-0. What if he’d given up trying in his thirties or forties because it was too hard, the competition was too tough, or he’d felt he was too old to break into the business? I hate to imagine the enormous void that Hollywood and we as movie goers would have suffered without his vast talent. The good news is we don’t have to imagine such a thing because Morgan Freeman had a dream AND he knew how to Dream Big!

I encourage you to get your dreams back and think of them often. Visualize your dream becoming a reality, down to the smallest detail. My big dream is to one day win an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Once you stop laughing, we can continue. 🙂 But seriously, it is.

There’s a scene, I let play over and over in my mind. I’m sitting in the audience of the Dolby Theater, waiting breathless as the screenwriter category is being announced. I can feel the soft silk of my gown brush against my legs. My eyes are downcast, too nervous to look up, and I can see where the chair in front of me is bolted to the floor. I feel the gentle squeeze of my husband’s fingers against mine as my name is announced along with the other nominees. I hear the actor say, “And the Oscar goes to Lori Waters for to be determined.”

My point is this; you need to clearly-visualize-your-dream as if it is already a reality! Of course, it’s going to take more than a visualization exercise to achieve your big dream.  A plan of action is required.

A successful dream is achieved by a series of accomplished goals.

Everyone needs to set goals. Setting goals holds us accountable. Every writer should have a word count goal rather it’s daily, weekly, or monthly. If your big dream is to hit the New York Times Best Sellers list, you must write the words.

Make sure your goals fit into your lifestyle. We all have different schedules, and one size does not fit all. For example, you may be best friends with Suzie Writes A lot. Suzie sits at her computer every day, even Thanksgiving and Christmas and writes 3,000 words. Nothing gets in the way of her daily word count. Well bravo to Suzie for accomplishing her daily goal, but please, please, please don’t force her goals upon yourself. You will end up falling head-first into a comparison black-hole, which in turn will leave your dreams and your self-esteem nowhere to be found.

I had a friend once say to me, “Lori, dreams are just a set up for failure and disappointment.” I respectfully, disagree. Dreams are the spark of hope that lives in each one of us encouraging us to do better and to be better. Without hope, what is there?

Don’t let living life on this complex planet steal your dreams. I will always have dreams, and I hope you will too.

And always remember to Dream Big!

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Bedazzled Brighton

Ornament I made my agent with pages from her favorite book she's written!

Ornament for my agent made with pages from her favorite book she’s written!

This month here on Bad Girlz Write, we’re talking about things we enjoy doing outside of reading and writing. And, I’ll be honest, reading and writing take up a good 87% of my time, so finding the energy/mental space/desire to do anything but starfish is hard.

Except when it comes to crafting.

And, okay, I don’t actually use a Bedazzler as I eluded to in the title (though my husband and I joke we should get one just to screw with our kids), but I do own a lot of crafty thingamabobs. Part of the reason for that is I’d see something I’d want to buy and realize it’d cost the same or less for me to buy the tools to actually make it than to have someone else do it for me. (This is a sickness of mine. Don’t feel like you need to be caught in the trap, too. It’s exhausting always thinking, “Hey, I could totally do that.”)

The truest necklace you could ever wear.

The truest necklace you could ever wear.

If I’m honest, this dates back more than a decade (*grabs cane and hobbles to front porch while yelling, “Get off my lawn!”*) when I first bought Photoshop. Now, no, Photoshop isn’t crafty per se, but it does allowing you to get creative and make one of a kind digital items and/or photographs. So that’s where it all started. Then I hopped on the scrapbook bandwagon (that wedding scrapbook is still sitting, a quarter completed. Hubs and I have been married for 14 years.). Then it was homemade cards (which, thankfully, I was able to use a plethora of my already-aquired scrapbook supplies). After that I took a bit of a breather for a while.

But then came everyone’s worst nightmare/best dream: Pinterest.

Remember that covered cereal box mail holder? Ahem.

Remember that covered cereal box mail holder? Ahem.

My God, the first three months of using that, I made so much crap, I can’t even remember it all. Some sort of decorative item with mason jars? Yes. A mail sorter made out of a recovered cereal box? Check. A menu planning board, New Year’s Resolution jar, bucket list contraption, recipe card organizer—all over it.

Book wreath I made for my sister using pages from her favorite Harry Potter book. Isn't she the luckiest?!

Book wreath I made for my sister using pages from her favorite Harry Potter book. Isn’t she the luckiest?!

Since then, I’ve acquired a few more crafting items, like hand stamping tools to make jewelry (which I actually still do!), and a Silhouette machine to make my own planner stickers (and maybe open a shop with them, too, idk idk idk). I also started hand lettering (very basically), and the day I figured out how to make a pocket folder for my Traveler’s Notebook, I proceeded to make six. Besides the stuff I stumble upon or seek out specifically for myself, every year my family exchanges homemade gifts for Christmas, so I get to hone my skills even more and try out new things and techniques.

What I’m saying is I have a fever and the only prescription is more crafts. Or cowbell.

I totally made this (tutu).

I totally made this (tutu).

But, hey, it makes me happy. And while I definitely have more money wrapped up into “inventory” than I’d like to think about, I know it’s one thing I can do to escape the every day crazy. Plus, as an added bonus, when I’m wearing/holding/working with something that I’ve created and someone compliments it, I get to say, “Thanks! I totally made it.”

 

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How To Not Lose Your Sh*t

Truth time: The last few weeks have been some of the most difficult, exhausting, and overwhelming in my life, and none of it has to do with writing. I’m talking about a real life adulting, one million items on my To Do list, sh*t storm of stress.

Show of hands, who else has been here? I see you! Big hugs to you (or fist bumps if you’re hug averse).

Over the last few weeks, I’ve gone through the roller coaster process of selling my house, buying a new house, closing on both houses, packing up, moving, unpacking, transferring my child from one school to the next, getting my mother ready for a month long trip abroad, an unusual and insanely busy time at work, some personal life SNAFUs that I won’t get into, and yes, being on deadline.

But, I made it…I think.

How did I keep from going insane? For me, there is one fool proof therapy for all of life’s toils and trials. One activity outside of writing and working out or working it, that is guaranteed to take me out of my head and whatever quicksand pit of responsibility life has tossed me into, and allow me the five minutes to, oh – let’s say two hours, of respite required to bring me back to functioning level.

That thing is (and this should come as no surprise): FANGIRLING.

Yep. That’s the secret to my sanity. A daily dose of diving into a subject I love, yet has no link to my responsibilities, and is 100% selfishly for me. I don’t fangirl because it will bring me success or money. I don’t fangirl because it’s altruistic in any way. I do it for me.

A rewatch of Star Trek Into Darkness is an escape from a Sunday of packing fifty boxes. I can pack and watch Chris Pine being beautifully broken and begging for the lives of his crew while Benedict Crumblebread is like, “B*tch please. I will walk over your cold corpses. Peace out, Enterprise!”  

Taking half an hour at the end of the day to surf Twitter or Tumblr for fandom news, press tour clips, talk show appearances, Sebastian Stan’s face, reviews, gossip, whatever, about Marvel, Trek, Star Wars and occasionally DC (Because Wonder Woman is awesome and also Chris Pine), is how I unwind. A few funny memes or gifs, along with crazy cat videos, dog Vines, and baby goats being adorable – that is the kind of quality content I want filling my brain.

Watching Captain America: Civil War, three or four times, will be my reward for working my butt off the last few months. Captravaganza Weekend with BGW’s Jeanette Grey is the celebration of not only Steve and Bucky and Sam and all of my feelings, but a party to celebrate the fact that the months of February through April did not break me. They could have. They almost did! But I clung to the pieces by having this escape that is mine.

I suggest, to any writer, wife, mother, hard working lady: find something for you. Be it knitting or learning to pole dance, fangirling or fashioning cosplay outfits. Whatever. You need a little slice of life that doesn’t benefit anyone but that beautiful woman in the mirror.

Enjoy!

trek dress

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Are we there yet?

Yesterday, I was trapped in the car with my family for HOURS enjoyed some quality road-trip bonding time with my loved ones. And as I struggled to recall a time before the trip had started, a time before slow people using the left lane (ARGH!), a time before my thighs had fused with the leather seat, I realized that publishing is a road-trip.

Writers have a clear destination in mind: we want to be published. Beyond that, mileage may vary. Perhaps you have a single, poignant story you’re yearning to tell; perhaps you want to create a long-running series. Maybe your dream is to be a best-seller some day or have your characters eventually show up on a movie screen. But, first, you must publish. There are many routes. You can sell to a big New York publisher or a small indie press. You can self-publish your own work. Whatever route you take, beware the short cut. If the man with the map in the passenger seat tells you something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is–NOT THAT I’M BITTER ABOUT THE NEEDLESS EXTRA HOUR MY HUSBAND TACKED ONTO OUR TRIP.

I won’t lie. The journey is rough. You may experience rejection letters more traumatic than the worst gas station bathroom you’ve ever seen. There will be bickering in the backseat (everything from your characters being uncooperative and whiny to arguing with your own self-doubt). There will be detours and delays. Publishing. Moves. Very. Slowly. Except when it doesn’t. Ever been belting out a Bon Jovi song on a straight stretch of road, look down and realize, “Oh, SHIT, I didn’t know I was going 95!”? There will be moments like that in your career. Exhilarating, but potentially panic-inducing.

There will also be marvelous experiences along the way. I have discovered funky restaurants off the beaten path and once saw a spectacular meteor shower while driving through Kentucky at 2 a.m. (I didn’t get a pic because 1) dark, 2) driving, but please enjoy this random sky pic I snapped during our latest trip.)

sky

Ever been traveling in the same set of clothes for so long that once you reached your destination, you kind of wanted to burn them? Excellent practice for being on deadline. And some of the same things that can make a road-trip great (friends and a bad-ass playlist) will also help with your writing journey.

Even if construction slows you down and you have to proceed at a soul-crushing five miles an hour, you can still get where you’re going. Maybe not as fast or as easily as you had hoped, but keep going. It is so worth it when you can finally look at your publishing contract or cover art or book on a store shelf and know I Have Arrived!bk

(Of course, the journey doesn’t end just because you pull into the parking lot or driveway. What, you thought all those suitcases were going to unload themselves? Even after the book is done, you have work to do. Like, say, promotion. Would this be a good time to mention that FALLING FOR THE RANCHER hit stores this week? I would be extremely grateful if you were to pick up a copy of this small-town romance about an unapologetically stubborn physical therapist and the hot cowboy who temporarily becomes her roommate. You can buy it here. After all, what’s a road-trip without great reading material?)

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So You Want to Be a Writer…

We’re almost upon graduation season, and I’ve been thinking about those folks who want to be writers. Consider this a specialized graduation address directed to you:

My fellow scribblers, do think twice before you settle on an English major* and nothing else. Had I to do undergrad and/or grad school all over again, here are some subjects I would consider adding:

Websites and coding. I can putter around WordPress, but that’s the extent of my website creation/maintenance abilities. In my defense, the Internet of my college days was sparse, and it took the wailing mating cry of a modem and about five minutes just to see one page. None of us would’ve thought that a website would be an integral part of being an author. We didn’t have a clue just how pervasive the Internet would become

Graphic Design. I studied a smidgen of design in grad school, but it wasn’t anywhere near what I really

Hey! There might be hope for English majors after all!

need. If you, like me, are challenged in the ways of graphics, www.canva.com is a handy site. Even so, if it requires anything in the Adobe family, I have to call in experts just to help me create a font image. (That reminds me that I owe Noelle a cup of coffee.

Marketing. If you’re just entering college, maybe you should consider making a degree in marketing your Plan B. Goodness knows it would’ve been more useful than my Women’s Studies minor. Sometimes, you have work at a job you don’t really want to get to a job that you do, and Marketing falls under the heading of business which has more job openings than English. I suggest you find something you like and feel called to do (teaching was my Plan B) while you work hard to make your first dream possible.

Nonfiction and freelance articles. I’m blessed with a husband who’s making more than enough for the two of us, but there have been times when I really could’ve used an income supplement from, say, magazine articles. I’ve tried to figure out where to go and what to write, but I usually end up flailing around on the Internet finding nothing. I will say that the Romance Writers Report is a great place for romance writers to get their feet wet, and I have tremendously enjoyed my experiences with them. I’m afraid, however, that my true talent is writing things for other people for free.

hans and franzNutrition and weight training. Oh, who am I kidding? I already know what I should do. I’m just not doing it. Ditto for the exercise. Eh, keep on keepin’ on. Whether you’re writing or exercising, the one way you know you’ll never reach your goals is if you stop.

My sweet cherub seniors and optimistic second career folk, I say all of this not because an English major* isn’t useful. Au Contraire. I’m not sure the world understands just how useful an English major can be. We’re fast learners and good students of life, so I’ve managed to learn a little bit about each of those subjects above. That said, if you’re starting out, then think ahead. I’m all about following your dreams, but I’m also a big fan of eating and having a roof over your head.

**cues Pomp and Circumstance**

Whether you’re fresh from high school/college or looking to jump back in, go get ‘em!

Just make sure you have a Plan B.

 

*BTW you don’t have to be an English major to be a writer. We are heavily represented because, hey, love of language, but some of the best writers you know majored in something else. It’s never too late to become a writer, and there’s no instruction manual, either.

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