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Why Bother?

Why Bother?

Well, there’s a question and a half! Every so often I ponder this question, and at the beginning of a new year, it’s extremely appropriate.

Life can seem like such an uphill battle that it’s easy to think, “Why bother?” After all, if whatever you’re doing isn’t getting you where you want to be, maybe you should just quit. I mean seriously. Quit. Or don’t quit. Only you can decide which path is right for you.

In a YouTube video I posted a few months ago, I remarked that I’d watched a video with Pastor Rob Bell and author Elizabeth Gilbert, where Rob commented that perhaps we don’t need to “find” our place in this world, so much as “create” our place in this world. Wow! That really hit home, since I’d spent most of my life trying to figure where I fit in. I’ve come to a conclusion; I don’t need to fit in. I can create my own place and thrive from there.

But what if what I’m doing is hard? Really, really hard. I’ve questioned this chosen path of writing so many times. I’ve cried, I’ve pleaded with God to give me a sign, I’ve meditated, and I’ve demanded. I’m still right where I’m meant to be. I’m still struggling. I’m still learning. I’m still growing – sloooowly. Maybe someday I’ll look back and wonder why I couldn’t see what was right in front of me, or why I even questioned who I am and what I want to do with this life I’ve been given.

Struggles Ahead

Struggles Ahead

In reflection it occurs to me that every struggle I’ve had to go through has brought me to this point in my life. I’ve hated the struggles while I was going through them, and I know I’ll hate the ones that are looming out of sight. After all, what if my choices lead me places I don’t want to go? What if I never reach my goals of making a living from my writing. What if all my family and friends never understand what I’ve been trying to do? What if I fail?

So why bother? I have the free will to change my course and do something entirely different. The next question is; do I really want to? What will I gain if I do? What will I lose? Every choice has pros and cons, and being a reasonably intelligent woman, I have to consider those pros and cons every single day. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning, to the moment I close them again at night, I have to choose how I spend my hours. Sitting here writing this blog post, I could be doing something else. But this question has been bugging me, so I’m better off getting it out in the open where I can see it. It’s a big question, and the answers are scary.

Do I have to answer today? Right now? Tomorrow? Next week – or next year? No, I don’t. I could just drift along and let life take me where it will, but knowing me, I won’t like that either. I know I need to feel I have goals and some measure of choice in what I do. I need to be intellectually challenged – Lord knows I’ve had life challenges enough. I don’t need any more “blessing in disguise”. I want them front and center where I can see them, so I know there’s a reason to bother. Of course what I want isn’t necessarily what I get. It isn’t always what any of us get. So, we choose to either bother, or not bother. There are consequences to both.

For me, I choose to continue to work at writing because I feel my most authentic when I do. I feel good at the end of the day when I’ve done the work, sat in front of my computer, slogged at getting the words down on the page of my current WIP. Even when I know it’s not perfect, it’s at least a start. I have that choice. Every day. Now, because I can, I choose to work five days a week at my writing, leaving the weekends for family, friends, errands and household chores. After all these years, I know this is when my brain functions best, so I’ve learned to go with what I know works for me.

Networking works!

But if I’m not making a wonderful living from my writing, why bother? If I’m not a famous author yet – after five, going on six, loooong years – why bother? I guess the answer to my own question is because not writing scares me more than failure. I’m afraid that if I stop, that’s where I’ll feel I’ve failed myself. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I do know that I love writing stories. I also love interviewing other writers from around the globe and getting to “know” them. Connections matter to me, so if I were to stop, I’d lose that. I also learn so much from other writers like Molly GreenAnne R. Allen, Ruth Harris, Christina Hamlett, Janna Graber, Deb Cooke (aka Claire Delacroix), Jeff and Alicia Rasley, and so many more I’ve come to know and enjoy through my writing and interviews. I think about the connections I haven’t made yet, and I don’t want to give those up either. For me, they are reasons to bother.

When I think about the question “why bother”, as it pertains to anything in life, I guess the answer is to consider what you’d do if you stopped. Are you okay with the consequences? Does stopping fill you with relief, or disquiet? If it would truly be a relief, then perhaps it’s time to try something else. On the other hand, if it fills you with disquiet or upset, then you aren’t done yet. Possible future or past failure doesn’t matter. It becomes a moot point, since that’s no longer why you do it. You do it because you aren’t finished with whatever your “it” is, or “it” isn’t finished with you. Simple. As. That.

So, I guess I keep writing. I can add to my repertoire of writing. I can explore new avenues of writing to add to my novel-writing, such as freelancing with articles, more interviews, or non-fiction. I can fall in love with the written word and communicating with others all over again and stop worrying about the what-ifs. What I choose not to do is stop. I choose to bother. Doesn’t mean I’ll never complain again, or worry, or agonize, or cry, or demand, or question. That’s not part of the bargain I have with myself or with God. I’ll just do my absolute best and see how it all turns out. It’s all any of us can do.

What have you chosen to bother, or not bother with for this new year?

 

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Diving In

Diving In

This past winter I took a fair bit of time away from doing public appearances at bricks and mortar venues. After the release of my debut novel, In the Spirit of Love, I dove head first into the book marketing and publicity pool, and discovered a lot of areas I really enjoyed. I met some wonderful people, and gained invaluable experience by tapping into a number of venues. As for actual book sales, some things worked better than others. Book signings and readings were fun, but it was hit and miss in terms of actual sales. That’s okay though, since I went into it knowing it isn’t necessarily about sales; it’s about reaching new audiences, honing new skills, and just plain connecting with others. Our brutal Canadian winter of 2013/14 also had me glad not to be out on icy roads, travelling to more distant locales.

 

There was also the business of on-line networking, marketing, and promotion of this first title, while working diligently at penning, then editing the sequel, In the Spirit of Forgiveness. Writing and editing is time-consuming work. I can, and do, sit for as much as 5-6 hours per day just on those two activities, in addition to any on-line marketing. The really cool thing though, is that it doesn’t feel like 5-6 hours. Often it feels like maybe 1-2 hours. I become so engrossed in the story and the writing that it isn’t unusual for me to glance at my watch and realize time has literally flown for me. That’s a good thing. Before I began writing, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could sit at a computer and simply type up word after word, page after page-for hours. Now, I love it. It doesn’t feel like work at all.

 

With the release of In the Spirit of Forgiveness (June 1, 2014), I’m finding myself having to dive into the publicity pool again. The water is a little chilly, and I’m having to get back into the strong and steady strokes of swimming again, but I’m enjoying it. I remind myself of all the great experiences I had last year, and look forward to new ones. The hard part of course, is finding the right venues, reaching the people who book events, and making the time to get out from behind my desk.

 

I’ve discovered that the further I move into this writing gig, there really isn’t a lot of down time. Aside from the valuable and important time I want and need to spend with family and friends, I have a job that never really ends. You see, while I’m looking forward to getting out and meeting people and sharing my work with new readers, I’ve also just finished the first draft of a third novel, The King’s Consort. The real work is now ahead of me with this new WIP (work in progress). I have editing to do, at least two rounds, before sending it out to query agents and/or publishers, followed by tons of work to polish it up before it actually gets published. Although I’m currently with a small independent publisher who has done a great job for me with the first two books, I’ve decided to seek representation and/or publishing with a larger house. I have no idea if I’ll succeed, but I believe I at least have to give it a shot with this next book. It’s in a completely different genre (fact-based historical fiction), and I’m hoping it will garner some real interest.

 

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

That means going through the entire difficult query process again, followed, inevitably, by the rejections I’m sure to receive. It’s a long, slow process, and it can be extremely intimidating. There are no guarantees it’ll be accepted anywhere, but that’s the name of the game. I figure it’s like anything new you attempt in life. You put your best foot forward, you give it your best shot, and you learn the lessons taught along the way. You also incorporate any lessons you’ve already learned. No lesson is ever wasted, whether negative or positive. I also know that, whether I pick up an agent or new publisher or not, I’ll continue to move forward with this next book. I love the story behind the facts I researched, and am keenly passionate about sharing it with readers. Because I’ve now successfully had two novels published, I’ve also gained a level of self-confidence I didn’t have before. I’m ready and excited to begin the next steps.

 

It’s daunting; this diving in again thing. But hey, every new day we wake up, we begin anew. We get up, we get dressed, and we begin our daily work. Diving back into the pool isn’t so hard the second, or third time. I know what’s coming, I gear up for the shock of cool waters, and hold my breath. Then, I start swimming long, strong strokes. Hmm, maybe I never really got out of the pool. You’re either in, or out. There is no in-between.

Fish underwater

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We All Contribute

We All Contribute

With the advent of Christmas, I’m reminded once again how important family and friends are to our emotional health and well-being. Without them, we’d be flat characters with little social interaction and personal development.

Even those who populate our lives in a negative bent lend something to the flavour of our life. They teach us lessons we can’t learn on our own. They teach us patience, or how to deal with conflict. They teach us restraint, and sometimes simply how NOT to behave toward others.

Family and friends come in all colours, personalities, and bring with them a whole host of view points. They help shape our concept of ourselves and the world surrounding us, which is of tremendous benefit to overall growth. The most loving and supportive of family and friends enrich our lives with love and feelings of worth, and we can reciprocate. By learning the positive effects of love and support, we are given a chance to echo it back, not just to those who’ve given it to us, but outward in an ever widening ring of touches.

Family and friends also become sounding boards for thoughts, feelings, and our actions. We use their reactions to gauge whether what we think, feel, and do is appropriate both within the secular setting of that immediate circle, and in a wider social sense. We seek approval, or we don’t, but we’re always aware of other’s reactions.

The look of disapproval

The look of disapproval

When confronted with disapproval or negativity within these sacred circles, it gives us the opportunity to re-examine our thoughts and motives. We may or may not change our course or thinking, but it does offer the benefit of a second opinion.

Now, imagine a life without all these people, both the negative and positive. Imagine not being able to talk to a trusted family member or friend. Imagine facing your worst fears, or health issues, alone, with no one to talk to or share your burdens. Imagine not having someone to tell you when you’re doing right, or wrong. Imagine yourself as an island.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like my worst nightmare; lonely, isolated, and flat. When writers begin a story, they start with the main protagonist(s) and add from there. They have to create secondary characters to interact with the protagonist(s). By peopling the stories with characters who serve this purpose, they increase the interest, and the lives, of their main characters. The goal is to breathe life into a story that would otherwise be flat and dull. Even the villain adds an important element to the story that can’t be overlooked. Conflict is often the catalyst for change in any person, and secondary characters in the form of villains, family, and friends allow the story to move ahead. These other characters sometimes even provide differing points of view for the reader to consider, and give insight into the main character’s background and/or motivation.

Friends make it better

Friends make it better

Secondary characters also provide the reader with a sense of the main character’s life, aside from the story line depicted. We can begin to see the outer edges of the character, and experience all facets of their nature. As in the real world, this is important to ensure a well-rounded personality and life.

Family and friends also give us different perspectives we may not see ourselves. I learn something new all the time from those closest to me, and from those within my sphere of influence. I learn to think about things in a new way from many, many portals, including social networks, television, radio, news reports, and so on. Through them, I’m exposed to new thoughts and ideas, new developments, and world events that change and enrich my life experience.

I recently stumbled across a great blog, My Book Therapy, written for and by authors, and wasn’t surprised to read their own version of what I’m saying regarding the creation of strong, interesting book characters. In a novel, the characters, both primary and secondary, must be exposed to the world around them, outside their own thoughts and feelings, and be allowed to interact with others. When writers encourage their characters to develop and grow in these ways, they make them more easily relatable to the reader. Giving characters flaws, even minor ones, shows a level of humanity we can all identify with. By understanding the forces that have shaped the character from a variety of sources, it allows the reader to connect to the motives behind what the character is doing or thinking, and why. After all, we are all motivated to thought, feeling, and action by what shapes our world, and our closest family and friends contribute in very large part to how we view ourselves, our lives, and our potential for the future.

I’m blessed to have been born into a loving and supportive family, and to have secured a few close friendships over the years. I’ve had my really difficult times, and I’ve struggled to understand who I am and my purpose in this world, but I’m confident I’m on the right path. My writing has allowed me to explore thoughts and feelings from many, many view points, and in a way, is a reflection of my experiences or those I’ve been exposed to by others. Everything I see, everyone I know, everything I do is teaching me something about me, my world, and the people in it. As I continue to write, I hope to be able to build on my skills as a story-teller and share something of what I’ve learned. In turn, readers will take what they will from any story, interpret it in their own way, and perhaps be entertained for a while. Maybe they’ll think of something in a new way, or learn a new fact they hadn’t known before. I guess it all comes down to the human connection that is so vital to our lives. I believe most of us seek to be understood and heard, and for me, writing is one medium of achieving that goal.

I’d love to hear your stories about how you feel family and friends have helped shaped who you are today. Please do share your comments below, and forward this post along to others in your social networks who might also enjoy it.

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Support breeds success

Support breeds success

Over the years, I’ve had to face many personal and business obstacles. Writing has proven to be my most challenging, and rewarding endeavour to date, but it comes with many obstacles and a host of naysayers. For instance, at a family event recently, a well-to-do family member made a comment to my husband about my writing, saying that although he understood my “passion” for writing, cautioned my husband against really believing it would ever be a financially viable venture. When I heard this, I was furious, both because this family member was unwittingly trying to undermine my husband’s faith in me, and because he was demonstrating what I’d encountered several times before with close friends and family; disbelief that what I was doing would ever amount to much of anything financially.

I’ve worked in commissioned sales for over ten years, and I know from experience that this kind of thinking is detrimental to the success of those who work in this type of career. Writing works very similarly; the writer works his/her buns off to get a project published, endures a great deal of rejection and trials, and only gets paid if the book becomes a commercial success. To be a writer, you have to develop pretty thick skin. You have to believe that what you are writing matters and has value to others. You have to believe in yourself as well as in your dreams. This is no easy task.

Snoopy writingThose who are close to writers don’t always understand what we do. They think we’re playing at an intriguing “hobby”, or worse, wasting our time. They don’t understand that toiling for hours upon hours, days, weeks, months, or even years, and seeing little financial profit is really laying stepping stones to success. Writing is like every new business; you have to be willing to invest the time, blood, sweat, and tears to build a brand and fineness the business model. Many writers work full time jobs and write every spare moment they can in order to create the platform they’ll use. The learning curve is tremendous, and in today’s constantly shifting landscape of book publishing, it’s even more difficult.

This doesn’t stop the true writer, or entrepreneur though. What family members, friends, and others who share the sentiments, don’t understand is that true failure comes when we becomes so downtrodden and unsupported, or disillusioned, that we cease trying. The other thing that often happens to writers, is that they fail to understand that writing and book publishing are also a business. If writers fail to understand how the business operates, learn the tools, and utilize them effectively, they’ll become disillusioned and fail to succeed.

In truth, this goes for everything in life. So what can you do when faced with naysayers and obstacles to your goals for the future? First, stop and take stock of where you are in the process. Make a list of all the things you’ve done to get to that point, and where you want to be. If you’re way off the mark, you may have to adjust your trajectory. That’s okay. No road to success is ever without misjudgements, hills and valleys. Your job is to find ways to continue moving ahead in a direction that leads you closer to the goal.

Pushing a boulder up a hill

Pushing a boulder up a hill

When starting any new venture, it’s very easy to underestimate what’s involved. That’s because human beings don’t come equipped with a GPS map to the future. It’s also why most financiers advocate creating a business plan that would address any potential obstacles and force the entrepreneur to pre-think of ways of seeing and dealing with those obstacles.

In life, we tend to move merrily along on our path, until faced with opposition. Only then do we stop and realize that the path we’ve been walking has veered too far to the left or right. The smart person takes stock of the opposition, learns everything he/she can about it, and adjusts the path accordingly by going through it, over it, under it, or around it. Some might also enlist the help of others to remove it from the path altogether, to allow them to continue forward. There are always solutions, but first you have to understand the problem. Same goes for writing. I keep hearing from writers that they’re “artists” and don’t want to do any of the work associated with marketing and promoting their work. They want to let others do it for them, or worse, do nothing at all, believing that if their work has merit, like cream, it’ll rise to the top. This is a fallacy. You have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone and risk taking on new challenges. You have to be willing to accept that others aren’t going to understand you or why you’re doing what you do. You have to take responsibility for ensuring your work gets noticed and demonstrate why consumers want to purchase the product or service. You have to be willing to forge your own path, irregardless of the obstacles.

I recently met a fellow London, Ontario writer, Sunil Godse, who contacted me via the social media, LinkedIn. As a business mentor, he often counsels managers, CEO’s and struggling entrepreneurs about the benefits of learning from their failures, and how to turn those failures into successes. Because of the many stories he’s heard from his clients over the years, he decided to write a book about it, entitled, Fail Fast, Succeed Faster. As a savvy businessman, he knew writing was a whole other animal to his usual work, and so he enlisted, and solicited, as much help as he could get.

A few weeks before his book launch, he contacted me via LinkedIn and asked if I had a few moments to talk to him about writing and publishing. At the time, I had no idea what his subject matter was, but in the spirit of paying it forward, I agreed immediately. When we finally set up the date and time for a telephone call, I was surprised and impressed with what he’d accomplished so far, and intrigued with his subject material. In fact, I had just penned a blog post earlier that week on the subject of benefiting from failure and achieving success. A coincidence? Perhaps, but in talking to Sunil, I began to realize that he’d approached his book project like a business. He’d researched every aspect of the book publishing industry, worked with a qualified co-writer, hired a professional editor, cover artist, web designer, and after careful consideration, decided to self-publish his book. Honestly, I was impressed and wasn’t sure what I could offer him in the way of advice. In speaking with Sunil, it became quickly apparent that this was a man willing to listen and learn from others. He’d talked to heads of national corporations, new entrepreneurs, and everyone else he thought might have an interesting story or ideas to share. He initiated the contact to perhaps learn something from me about the writing and publishing business, and in doing so, taught me something in return; ask the questions, learn the processes, be invested in doing the task right by hiring qualified people, and ask for assistance when needed.

Bruce Croxon and me

Bruce Croxon and me

When we finally met at his book launch two weeks later, I was again impressed. He used his contacts and financial backing to create a great launch, and invited a truly impressive keynote speaker, Bruce Croxon, of tv’s Dragon’s Den. Both men were ready and willing to talk to attendees as much as needed, and I was pleased to have about 5-10 minutes with each. Again, I learned something from each of them, and enjoyed the event tremendously.

Another on-line friend, Jonathan Gunson, of Bestseller Labs, also wrote an interesting blog post earlier this week that really resonated with me, entitled “The Key to Growing Readership: Your “Writer’s” Voice”. This week Jonathan tapped into the subject of overcoming naysayers, keeping your eye on the goal, adjusting the path where needed, and having faith in yourself, your own abilities and “voice”, and believing in the path you’ve set for yourself.

One other thought; when we support others in their goals, we can strengthen our determination to succeed in our own, and sometimes, learn new ways around the obstacles we face in our own lives. Oh, and when I heard what that family member had said, I understood that they in no way thought they were being unsupportive (not consciously anyway), but boy, did it strengthen my resolve to prove to everyone who doubted my writing future that they were WRONG!

If you’d like to leave a comment, please take a few moments to share some of the obstacles in your life, or business, that you’ve successfully overcome.

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Fire

Fire

I was reminded of a favourite song of mine the other day, Standing Outside The Fire, by Garth Brooks. The song focuses on the need for people to take chances in their lives and to create the destinies they want. I truly believe that. I always have. I guess that’s why that song, and others like it, strike such a strong chord within me.

When we write anything, an article, a song, a poem, a story, a letter, anything at all, we have to believe that what we have to say is worth others hearing. Some call that ego. Maybe it is, but maybe its also about sharing this human condition of living. I like to think it’s about connecting with others on a basic level.

When a writer writes a story, they create characters who have to DO something. The characters must have a purpose, needs, flaws and desires that readers can relate to, otherwise the story is boring. Plot lines and flow charts aside, it’s the characters who must echo humanity and human lives. Even in science fiction, horror or other genres where the characters aren’t actually human, the characters must exhibit a human character. They have to move the story along by their words and actions, just like we do.

A writer's space

A writer’s space

But by nature, most writers are introspective and can be a little more solitary than some people. We are happiest to sit at our desks and create worlds, characters and dialogues in our heads while putting them to paper, or on a computer screen. Then the book comes out. Now we’re supposed to be PR experts and marketing moguls. Uh, maybe not so much. But if we want our work to be a commercial success, and if we don’t that’s fine too, but if we do, we have to step outside our comfort zone. We have to push ourselves to get out there and promote our work and ourselves so people will know we, and it, exists. I write for two reasons, because I love it, and because I am hoping others will get some real enjoyment from the stories I’ve crafted. I hope the characters will come to life for readers and provide a measure of entertainment and escape. Oh, and yes, I would like some financial redemption for that work. No apology. If I have to make money somewhere, this is how I’d like to do it.

 That means having confidence enough to push myself beyond where I’d normally go. I’m not an experienced public speaker, and I don’t necessarily seek the lime light. I watch famous writers like James Patterson, J.K. Rowling and others who have learned how to reach out to readers and brand themselves to the buying public. Maybe they’re more extroverted than I am, but possibly not. They just know it has to be done, so they do it. I like to think I can too. I’m fortunate to have been blessed with years of watching both my mother and younger sister, Stephanie, in public speaking engagements. Each is amazing and inspirational. They speak about women, to women, and business professionals about creating the business and lives they want. I love listening to them. They are my inspiration. My middle sister, Melanie, runs a very successful business with her husband and has done for the past fifteen years or more. They’ve learned a lot along the way, and she’s definitely had to step out of her comfort zone to promote her business, on more than one occasion. My brother, Stephen, followed his dream of playing in the CFL when he was younger and now runs his own contracting company. He wanted to play in the Greycup, and damn if he didn’t do it! I’m so inspired by these people and their drive. I’ve always been the quiet one. The studious one. Now, I’m having to step outside my comfort zone and pull out all the stops in marketing and promoting the heck out of my book. I’ve been contacting local libraries to ask for book readings/signings, I’ve contacted local news publications to ask if they’d be interested in interviewing me as a local emerging author, I’ve had to start reaching outside myself in so many areas I feel my arms are growing (too bad my legs wouldn’t). It doesn’t feel natural to me, but it’s important. When I needed to have my book on Kobo because I’m Canadian and Kobo is a major venue in Canada, supported by major book retailers and libraries, I stepped in and liazed between my publisher and Kobo directly to encourage a working relationship. It worked and In The Spirit Of Love is now on Kobo, in addition to all the other venues it’s been on.

Each step I’ve taken these past months has been difficult, but also fun. I’m learning and growing and gaining confidence. My first public appearance was at a book reading/signing at a small local library. I had no clue how to proceed, and neither did they, but I went with my gut instinct and kept it light, easy and hopefully fun, for the attendees. I’d never done anything like it before, where I’d be the center of attention, and you know what, I liked it. I was fine, and I brought my mother with me for moral support, which was a great idea.

My point is this. As writers, we have to make our characters stretch and grow to gain the desired objective. As people, we do too. While recently talking to the manager of a local major book retailer who is considering placing my books on consignment and hosting a book signing, she told me flat out, “I want an author who will connect with my patrons and draw them in. If he or she just sits there, I’m not going to be happy, and I won’t invite them back.” Point taken, challenge accepted. I might bring my mother with me though, for moral support.

So, like Garth Brooks sings, “Life is not tried if it’s merely survived, If you’re standing outside the fire”.

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Dream Big

Never stop learning, dreaming, believing

I am continually amazed at the learning possibilities of life. A well-written book holds clues and insights never imagined before. A new place holds beauty and experiences never imagined before, and new people hold friendships and stories never encountered before.

On a recent business trip I was fortunate to travel to Clearwater/St.Petersburg, Florida. I thought it would hold little surprises for me. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. While there I was introduced to people who met us with warmth and laughter, while fulfilling their roles as guides to the locale and places I was there to become more familiar with. Each of these people revealed expertise in their chosen fields of work and the properties they were proud to showcase, while making me and my team mates feel welcome and treated as honoured guests. Over the course of that three day trip, I learned I knew nothing of the area I was there to see. I had come with pre-conceived notions. I was wrong. Clearwater, St. Petersburg proved to be an incredibly beautiful destination with fabulous hotels, warm clear waters, wide sandy beaches and friendly, welcoming people.

While there we were introduced to Winter, the dolphin who lost her tail after being ensnared in a fishing trap. The movie, Dolphin Tale, is based on the remarkable story of Winter’s fight for survival and subsequent rise to dolphin stardom at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. After hearing the story and seeing Winter myself, I couldn’t help but reflect how much all of us can learn from animals like Winter and their tenacity for life. Even more fascinating to me though, is the story of the humans who went out of their way to help Winter and make a difference. The resulting rescue and ripple effect of the publication of Winter’s story continues to expand, changing both human and animal lives on a daily basis. In a society hell bent on consumerism and the attainment of surface beauty, the story of Winter, her caretakers, and those who stepped beyond their everyday lives to save a life, this is a much needed reminder of what can be accomplished – if we don’t give up believing in possibilities.

Writing a book is a little like Winter’s story. When a writer sits down to pen a new story, it feels a little like being wrapped up in that fishing trap. The heart of the story is there, it’s just all tangled up in a bunch of other stuff, and if left like that, it’ll die a slow and painful death. But unwrap it, rescue it, breathe life into it, work with it, and rehabilitate it to get it to where it’s whole and shiny, and you’ve accomplished a significant feat of faith and perseverance.

Oh, but then you have to sell it, market it to the world so others can share in the vision, and perhaps impart some value and entertainment. If you are really, really fortunate, your story will resonate with even one reader who will enjoy it enough to recommend it to someone else. If you are fantastically lucky, your story will sell enough to actually help you pay some of your never-ending stream of bills. Kinda like the movie they made of Winter’s story, Dolphin Tale. Because of the movie, the dedication of the entire crew, staff at the aquarium, and the unstinting backing of the people of Clearwater/St. Pete’s, this incredible story has a happy ending. Not only did Winter get her tail, but many other marine wildlife have also been rescued. Not only that, but public awareness of marine rescue and rehabilitation has increased exponentially, and continues to grow daily. On my recent trip our guide, John (an amputee himself), pointed proudly to the beginnings of a new building being constructed directly as a result of the revenue from the movie. The tremendous success of the film, along with the publicity generated, has resulted in enough funds to build a second, larger building to house and care for even more marine life.

This brings me back to the beginning of this post; because of a business trip, I learned more about an area than I ever dreamed I would, I learned that dreaming big and working hard result in outstanding accomplishments (look for my upcoming posts on a new blog site I’m developing with Strategic Incentive Solutions, about the people and places I am fortunate to visit), and that faith, tenacity, and gritty determination really can transform a dream into a reality.

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