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Will all y’allses authors stand on your head wearing a book suit with a little book hat?

For months I kept an eye on a new hot dog and ice cream parlor. This new business tried just about everything to draw customers to it—new items gaily written on the menu board, wi-fi now available!, bright colors shouting out, huge signs proclaiming their awesomeness, and a woman dressed as a hot dog with a hot dog hat who stood outside and waved exuberantly while rubbing her tummy and beckoning everyone to “Come on in!”

Did it work? If the parking lot was any indication, not so much. However, just a few miles from this little hotdog stand is a hamburger and ice cream joint that always has a full parking lot. One could say it’s the difference between hot dog love and hamburger love. Still, I wondered: just what makes the customer choose one place over another?

It isn’t always about the quality and taste of the food or the spiffy look of the establishment. Maybe the food isn’t as good, or isn’t any better, in the crowded

Good food, okay food, exceptional food . . . atmosphere, word of mouth . . . what draws you in to a restaurant?

restaurant, but the atmosphere brings in the customers, or how long it’s been around, or people talk about it and spread the word, or or or . . . .

There are the places that are always full, seats hard to find, and while the food may be consistently good, or even hit or miss, there’s just something about the restaurant that pulls in a good loyal crowd.

There are the iconic restaurants, and the ones who garner five-stars who employ chefs with a pedigree. The food is good, the atmosphere stunning, the prices astronomical.

Well, isn’t there good food and wonderful atmosphere in the little tiny diners across America? —why yes, and they’ve only to find that One Thing, or Some Thing to call the customer to them, and once that happens, off they’ll go! Right? Right? Well. Maybe. Maybe not.

I’ve tried to study the whys of how some restaurants are packed and popular and others, though they have good quality food and sincere staff/owners, are barely hanging on. I have come to the conclusion that sometimes there simply isn’t a why. Sometimes there is only a How It Is. Sometimes it’s just luck. Timing. And luck. And Lots of Luck. And some Something that can’t be defined no matter how much we try, no matter how many blogs and updates and twitter feeds we read about “How To.” Sometimes it just is.

So. Our books. Yeah. Our readers. Our love. Our Life.

We can try to call people to us with contests or give aways or pointing out the good reviews

finding the silver lining . . .

we have or wear a funny book suit with a book hat on our heads while exuberantly rubbing our bellies—et cetera et cetera et cetera—but, in the end, sometimes our books may never become iconic or popular—we may never make a million bucks, and be lucky to make some thousands of bucks, or some may be lucky to sell but a few books at all.

While there are those savvy people who know how to market effectively, most of us are standing around with deer in the headlights eyes, flinging out sticky shit one side to the other in the hopes something sticks.

See, I’m thinking — I have to wake up with myself every day. I have to look in

No, really, I am a NICE person – I wouldn’t push my brother over the edge.

the mirror and like what I see. I have to feel comfortable with myself. I have to write the best book I know how and then hope a lot of hope. It is not in my nature to stand outside in a funny suit, rubbing my stomach, and wildly beckoning y’all to come inside. It’s in my nature to give you my words with love and hard work and sincerity and do the best I know how while remaining the person I am. To try my best without being a big pain in the ass to the social networking airwaves.

Would I love to see my books back in the Number 1 spot at Kindle? Hells to the yeahs, but will I hop on my head while reciting the complete works of Shakespeare to get your attention? Nope! Because what would you think of me? What would I think of myself? Lawd!

Keep it flowing and flowing and flowing and flowing . . .

Readers: what you can do to help your favorite author is to pass along the word – tell others about the author/book(s), and further if you are so inclined, review it on Amazon, B&N, etc., or talk about it on your blog/facebook/twitter: give us your love for it will be appreciated. Writers, what you can do is support other writers – someone else’s success does not take away from our own potential or real successes! We also can be more appreciative of what we have and where we are, for there is always someone else who’d love to be in our position. We should write the best books we can, and present them as beautifully and as “perfectly” as possible (note: in other words, don’t be in such a hurry to throw out your words just to say “I’m published”).

By the way: that hotdog stand went out of business. Just sayin.

Tell me: what’s up with y’all? My laptop is still in the laptop hospital and this little mini-netbook is terrible. lawd. I hope this post turns out presentable. Lawdy be in a bucket of worms.

Monday Classroom: See-Saw/Watch(ed)/Look(ed) – cleaning up our manuscripts, y’all (and no whining allowed!)

Morning all y’allses out there, wherever you are. I first want to say how much I appreciate you. Many of you come by here for every post, and there are those of you who leave comments regularly. Thank you.

I have not been able to return the favor as I used to, but I am subscribed to many of your blogs if you have that capability, and I do read your posts in my email. I know many of you are in the same ole boat–so much to do, so many blogs, so much social networking–Lawd!

I am behind on writing The Lightning Charmer because I whined too much instead of trusting my process.  “I caaaaaan’t write this boooooook. Cause it suuuuuuucccckkkks and I suuuucccck!” I have a deadline; I have already received my advance; I have people depending on me, readers waiting. There should be No Whining Allowed! But whine I did. I felt stuck.

After four published novels and a novella, you’d think I’d Have This. But we can always create some angst, can’t we? Lawdy be in a bucket – yes. Folks, sometimes just switching a scene around (making something happen earlier–as I did to TLC) or turning the manuscript on its head in some other way does the trick–Hey! Why, there it is! There’s the thang I was looking for hiding in plain ole sight–haw! And then the “flutter” of excitement begins in my/our belly and off I/we go! Give that sucker (your manuscript) a shake and see what falls out. Do whatever it takes to make it seem fresh  and alive. No Whining Allowed! (Okay, you can give yourself “whine time” as long as you do not give in to it for longer than two shakes of a hippo’s tail.)

Sometimes it is appropriate for a character to see-saw/watch(ed)/look(ed). But oft-times we write the character seeing looking watching when the direct action would work better. Right? Riiighhht!

For example, let’s say there’s a scene in Tender Graces where Virginia Kate and Micah are on the porch in the Looseeaner house after she’s left West Virginia.

Oh look! A rock. I am looking at the rock. You are looking at the rock. GMR is watching me look at the rock. I saw the rock. I see the rock and saw it and looked at it

Scene:

I looked over at Micah as we rocked on the porch. I saw him grin at me. I watched him run down the steps, pick up a pretty rock, and bring it back to me. He looked at me looking at the rock. I saw him look at me. We looked at each other and smiled. I watched him sit down. He looked at me as I rocked. I watched as he rocked. Then we looked at the sky because we were danged ole sick of looking at each other, sheesh.

Okay, folkses, I know that’s a little extreme, *teehee,* but you get the idea. Obviously sometimes we use looked/watched/saw, etc, because it fits the scene. Sometimes Virginia Kate uses the “I’m a looking fool” because that’s what she does–her thang; in those cases, I actually use it as a device, On Purpose, and I know it is On Purpose and the audience knows it is On Purpose–if they do not, then I ain’t done my job. This is what I mean about breaking rules or manipulating the language—if you are aware of what you are doing, if you are doing it On Purpose, it is fun to play with the language and it can be quite effective/affective.

If the sneakity sneaker thangs make their way into the work, then being aware of those sneakies will help tighten the manuscript.

Don’t stress yourself striving for perfection, especially in the first draft or two. I like to slam that story down first. However, the more you know instinctively, the less mess you have to clean up, right? RIIIIGHHHT!

Simplistically:
I saw the ball hit the wall. – The ball hit the wall.

I watched Marie jump rope. – Marie jumped rope.

I looked at Jennifer eating her pie. – Jennifer ate her pie. I want pie–this has nothing to do with this post, I just want pie now.

The audience will know the narrator is doing the watching/looking without us bomping them upside the head with it.

Playing with language and words is the most wonderful danged old thang in the world. If you tend to “over-do” or “over-use” certain words or phrases, etc, find ways to recast your sentences/phrases to create a tighter work. A swollen manuscript will become, well, not swolled up.

So, pull up your manuscript in your editing phases and do a search/find and see how many “look/see-saw/watch” you have hiding in there. You may be surprised.

Now–go Do This Day with Gratitude. And write.

Monday Classroom: The angst we can heap on our pea-heads, or the joy – you are in control, right?

Sometimes I follow Good Man Roger into Ingles Supermarket as he shops for groceries (yeah, he does the grocery shopping and most the cooking because I just ain’t innerested, y’allses! Left to my own self’ses, I eat the weirdest stuff that does not require cooking, or very little of it). I wander the aisles touching things and going “Hmmmm . . . food good, like food . . .” or I’ll study the ad copy on some miracle face cream and wonder if it’ll make me look like the Tender Graces author photo my publishers airbrushed–I look like my younger cousin once removed *lawd!*

And while doing these la-tee-dah thangs, I suddenly think, “Oh, hey, hold up y’all! I just remembered! I’m a published author.” I lift up my head from bright-colored packaging and muse-i-vate, “Right this very danged ole moment, someone may be reading one of my books . . .” Oh wonderment!–and

I gots books and friends and family – lucky me!

no one even knows who I am. But what if someone does? What if that person who just walked by and looked at me and smiled as if they know me does “know” me. Lawd! Teeheehee! I’m an author and I done wrote some books and those books are out there somewhere on someone’s bedside or bookshelf, or in their Kindle or Nook or whatever, whodathunkit?

I inhale that moment with the mountain air. I swallow it down and it enters my blood and rushes through my veins and fills my marrow and I’m full full full of how wunnerful it all is. As if I can think, “My time has come at last.” Without hubris, for humility covers my head like a gentle hand staying the jittery jumping up and down in glee–yeah, that humility ain’t always humble in us, is it? But it sure will kick us upside our asses if we become too comfy in our authory skinses and think we’re all that and then some on a southern-fried stick *haw haw.* Dang. I wanna be all that and then some on a southern-fried stick, at least a little. Right? Riiighhht. For without goals, what are we? Goal-less I guess – teehee. But I need me some goals. Something to work for, and that something is You and You and You reading me me me. Right? Isn’t that what you all writers out there want? Besides some Pride in our accomplishments? Maybe a best-seller list. And an award–ohh, yeah, a big fat ole award telling us how brilliant we are! Oh, yeah, and our ever-present humility, too – haw!

Yup, there are those moments of such clarity, those that stop me short in the peanut butter and jelly aisle. Those moments where I feel gratitude, and a surreal fascination with the entire process of writing and books and language and publishing. And how I am a part of all that even if in a small way in the Big Fat Ass Scheme of Thangs.

Aw lawd, what if what if what if what if – I’m trapped in What If Land!

Then, lawd he’p me, there are the moments of terror. The expectations I heap upon my ole pea-head until it’s heavy and I have to go lie down and pull some covers over my weighted-with-angsty-lawdyness head. I lie in my bed and the anxiety curls itself around my innards. “What if this very

lawdy! gots my pea-head all tied up in knots!

moment someone is reading my book and thinks, ‘This isn’t very good. I think I’ll put it down and read something else . . .’” Oh horrors! “What if I don’t sell many books and my publishers and family and friends think I’m a failure?” Ungh  ungh! “What if the next book isn’t as good as the last? And was the last good enough?” Shivers on me timbers! “What if I let everyone down?” Oh Chicken Little, be quiet! The sky is not falling to bang you upside your head, lessen you pull it down your head. Right? Riiiighhhht.

There is such contradiction in this process of having your dream come true. For me, the original dream was to see my Virginia Kate novel published and to know she is being read and enjoyed by someone somewhere. I accomplished that. Everything else should be lagniappe (that’s a South Loooseeeaner term for “just a little something more.”) But when those little voices creep up and tell us how we need to do more, and more, and even more, and ever ever ever MORE MORE MORE MORE, this is when the joy of the language, the characters, the readers, the accomplishment of writing and publishing a novel is not enough and we think we have to have/do/be it all– and most of us can’t have/do/be it all. There’s always going to be Something More unless we find a way to put all this in some perspective, stop and take a breath, and then decide what our ultimate Goal is and how we will get there and if we do not get there will we be happy with what we DO have.

Welp, guess what? We really are in control of what we want to heap on our wittle pea-headed selves–much more than we give our selfses credit for. We can heap and heap, or we can not heap and heap.

Relax, relax, relax and enjoy life sometime . . .

I know I like me better when I’m walking through the grocery store and suddenly stop and that beautiful realization pops me upside my head that I actually did it. I wrote a novel and that novel is published and then I wrote three more of them and they were published, and any one of them could be, right at this moment, read and enjoyed by someone out there somewhere. Sometimes that is enough. Those Dang! Whoop! I did it! moments of tasting our accomplishments–rolling those accomplishments on our tongue. Sometimes, it is enough. Sometimes. Sommmmeeetimmmmmessssss it is enough *sigh*

My challenge to all of you is to stop where you are at this moment in your life, savor who and where you are—hold close to you the Right Now moment, before you move on to MORE MORE MORE. Then, when you move on to More, maybe it’ll have a Name and  Goal instead of “I have to have/be/do it ALL!”

squirrels ain’t stressing

Right now. Right here at this moment, a mountain breeze flies down from the ridge and brushes against my face, a bird’s bright eye watches me, a chipmunk fills its cheeks with seed, the red squirrels are fussing, the creek sings its journey song to the bold creek to the river to the ocean, the sun tips greened trees, and I feel a connection to every creature, every living being—through words and thought and life. I will soon begin my day’s work and it is good. It is good. Right now, it is good.

Thank all y’allses for reading: Now . . . what is your right now, right here moment?

And what is your Ultimate Goal?

Monday Classroom: We should all take a break . . .

Today I am thinking of so many men and women. And, I am thinking about my nephew. Gone 17 years now. He was almost 20 when he was killed in a training accident. He was in the Marines and something went wrong. He loved the Marines, and it did turn his life around. So young. So full of promise.

So many.

Today for Monday Classroom, I want to remind all y’allses beauties out there to take a day here, there, and yonder, to rest, reflect, go out and see the world, give thanks, have gratitude, experience. For when we do these things, our writing is richer, broader, opened up to so much more. We see things we’ve never seen or revisit things we’ve long forgotten or find beauty or find someone or find ourselves.

Memorial Day . . . a day for rest, a day for BBQ, a day for the beach, a day for family, and a day for remembrance . . . then, tomorrow, it’s back to work.

 

 

Monday Classroom: Why you’ses dumping information all up and down and all-over creation? Ain’t necessary.

Oh woe is us’ses but sometimes we feel the need to stuff down too much information at once, instead of gradually feeding information to our readers, or hinting, or giving them just enough so that they come to their own conclusions. We think, and I have done this, we have to tell the reader “certain thangs” or else they’ll be lost or won’t read our story because we haven’t given them “reason to—” but instead, when we dump too much on our readers, we may drive them away (meaning: put down our book – NOOOO lawdy NOOO! Woeful sobbing Noooooo’s!)

Some writers want the reader to know some “backstory” or other information that may or may not be crucial to the storyline and they shove it down the readers’ throats all at once. Ease back. It’ll all work out. Trust the process. Trust your readers. Trust yourself. Let your reader figure things out, feed them a spoonful so that they want more, and then give them just a little more.

Some writers want the reader to know how the character looks, because they know just how that character is “supposed to” look instead of letting the reader form their own images.

And please y’allses, don’t describe your character in a mirror. That’s another form of dumpity dumping information.

Can you see me? You can see enough of me.

Now, does that mean you can never ever ever never ever have your character look into a mirror and “see” her/himself? Whyses No’ses. Shoot, I have a mirror scene (or two), as in: Young Virginia Kate runs to her bedroom to fetch her camera, sees herself in the mirror, and notices her hair is messy, she has a spot of ketchup on her blouse and it reminds her of the snake’s blood (from the snake polo scene). So, she makes these observations and goes on. That’s something we’d all do, wouldn’t we? We’d pass a mirror and make an observation about ourselves, but would we describe ourselves to ourselves?–um, prolly not.

Remember I’ve said before: think about your scene in reality. What do people really do?

And lawdy be in a bucket, sometimes, to my horrorification, information dump is done in dialogue, and in such an

Objects in mirror are often described too much . . .

unnatural way, thusly:

After describing her heaving bosoms, cornflower blue eyes, pouty red-tinted lips, thick glorious hair, and determined chin in the mirror, arms akimbo, she stomped her little foot and cried to the bedroom decorated in tapestries and filmy scarves, because no one was standing there and the room was a good listener, “I am going back to the market on fifty-first street today, where I went last week to buy tomatoes for the famous homemade sauce my family has made for generations and I have made my twenty-three years I’ve been on this earth, and while there I saw that dark and dastardly street vendor Raoul and Raoul stole my broach just as it happened with my mother and her mother’s mother and her grandmother before her! I shall have vengeance on Raoul this very day or else my name isn’t Sabrinina Melissa Bambitto Deligato!”

 Lawd!

Some writers want the reader to “see” the place/setting/room/house just as they imagined it, so they write and write and write the description to dawg-danged-old death, such as:

She then turns on her pretty little slender heels and stalks out of the bedroom, and as she huffs to her front door . . . the

lawd, I need a nap! Wearing me out with all these words!

drapes were orange-marmalade velveteen after it has set in the sun three hours, the armchairs polka-dotted except on the fringe because the fringe is solid and hung down all-fringe-like, and in the corner to the right was a purple violet vase with forget-me-nots inside with an inch of water to cover the stems and some aspirin in there to keep the flowers fresh and the flowers were bought last Tuesday and were still perky and next week she’d put red—the color of the red crayon she had as a child and it was her favorite—roses in the vase and the petals would be soft as her peachity-creamy comely skin, and in the other corner to the left, as Sabrinina Melissa Bambitto Deligato’s corn-flower blue eyed lashes swept her flushed cheeks as she further surveyed the room and saw how her lovely yellow as a egg yolk that just was cracked from the shell five minutes ago chaise longue captured her kitty cat named Mr. Furry McFurrPants, and the lady-slipper pink carpeting that crushed most charmingly and softeningly  under her tiny little feet, and the chandelier above her golden-blonde glorious hair sparked all diamondy and sparkly, and . . .

. . . and all the while, we are supposed to imagine Sabrinina Melissa Bambitto Deligato is walking through this room staring at all of this long enough for the reader to read allllll this description—so she must be walking sloooooowww moooooootion, right? Riiggghtt. Why not just give a little detail here and there that she notices as she goes through the room—maybe a favorite item that she touches or brushes her hand against, or a couple of details about the room that a person would note as they walked through it—the reader will fill in the blanks and be happy to do so, even if they don’t even realize they are filling in the blanks and instead think you are a genius at description—Haw!

Okay, while I’m at it: I’ve never used arms akimbo (other than this example :-D), but the other night I read a book and there it was. In fact, I had to look up “arms akimbo” to know what it meant. I’ll never use arms akimbo, but I suppose if you must you must. Nope, I ain’t telling you; you’ll have to look it up just as I did. *laughing oh laughing with mouth akimbo.*

Professor Dawg says, “Woof!” – that means, write it all good and all, y’allses

So, friends, what I am talking about here and digressed into my brain going akimbo is don’t take the easy or cheating or unimaginative or lazy way out and force down the throats of your readers information—instead write it to show readers in a more natural, or gradual, way, in a way that gives the reader credit for knowing or figuring out much more than we as writers think they do/can. If you need to write it all out, that’s great, as long as you delete what isn’t needed. Consider: our readers’ imaginations and thought-processes are quite intelligent. Why, sometimes they even think up better things than we could have written . . . right? Riiighht! No, really, riiighhht!

If you dump on your readers too much description, they’ses eyes might glaze over and what might they do? OH NO! They might put down the book or “skim it.” Oh, the dreaded skimming isn’t as bad as the putting down the book, but both set my wittle heart to squeezing inward with writerly angsteses. Why, I bet some of you’ses out there have skimmed this! Oh heavy Irony abounds! Haw!

I read a novel a couple of weeks ago by a well-known, well-beloved author. So imagine my surprise when she info-dumped a whole-lotta backstory into the first chapter. There was no dialogue, no moving the story along—it was as if she

la la la la I can’t hear youuu; I’m looking inside my hat – you done lost me – la la la tee dah – Yawn, whatchoo was saying? Whatever, the inside a-my hat is more innerestin

and I were sitting in a restaurant having dinner and she was filling me in on all these details to make sure “I got it—you know, got it, the stuff that happened before the stuff that’s really happening” all before she could go on to “the meat of the story.” Well, I was bored. I didn’t want to know all that backstory—I didn’t care. Because once she began writing The Story, once she just wrote what the character was up to, I forgot all that crapa-doodle-doo-doo she’d stuck in that first chapter. It’d have been so easy to take a few things from that first chapter and insert a little bit here and there to fill me in on any details. She could-a deleted most of that entire first chapter and I’d have not cared.

How do you know it’s backstory? How do you know it’s boring? How do you know it’s crapa-doodle-doo-doo? Dang—you’ll have to use your instincts on this one, folkses. If you feel you are moved to tell your readers a bunch of this’s and thatses to “catch them up” or to “make sure they know the reason for it” or “if I don’t tell them this, they may not understand what comes later,” then maybe just maybe you are dumping information in the front part of the book—then it’ll be all top heavy and end up toppley-gangly all over creation. As well, if you are bored or restless when you read it–not a good sign.

Write write write—and then make good friends with your delete key. It’s such a lovely key. People are afraid of the delete key. They think the delete key is EEEE-VILLLLE, but it isn’t! It’s our friend.

But, y’allses know what I tell you. What I preach and preach—what is most important to remember: If you convince your audience, make them believe, make them happy to be where you lead them, engage them in your character’s world, you have done your job–Period. And be-doodle-be-damned any “advice” some writer, like me or anyone else, gives you, right? Riiighhht! But consider: just consider.

So, are your arms akimbo? If so, un-akimbo them and get to work! That’s what I’ma gonna do, folkses.

Monday Classroom: Y’allses, we’s gonna clean up our languageamation, right? riiighht!

Morning, all y’allses! What? You think all y’allses isn’t correct? Well, it ain’t. It ain’t even correct in many southern towns. Nope. But it’s correct in my pea-head, so there y’allses goes’ses :-D

Our manuscripts/work/language will never be perfect. Yeah, I know! It’s difficult to imagine, isn’t it? That we aren’t or will never be perfect? Nor will our books/essays/short stories/letters/posts, etc. Lawd and Dang. However, we can strengthen our work by at least knowing The Rules and applying them when we “should;” and then we can also break the rules with a firm and knowledgeable hand instead of feeling flabbergastivated by them. Right? Riighhht!

Do you own a Strunk & White? No? *Gasp!* Go ye and purchase one. I’ll wait whilst you do. *Jeopardy music here* You back? All right then (and notice, all right is two words—two!) let’s begin.

As I wrote above, all right should be two words. Not alright.

Do you feel badly? Well, what’s wrong with your hands? Oh dear! Folkses, it is: I feel bad.

Most always when we write “hopefully” we mean “I hope.” Or at least we should mean I hope. I hope y’allses will use I hope instead of hopefully, which means in a hopeful manner.

I often see “that” used instead of “who—” if you are writing/speaking of a person, then it is who. She is a woman who likes strawberries right off the vine; not, she is a woman that likes strawberries right off the vine.

Commas before which’s. The dog wanted his walk, which was most inconvenient for the woman who wasn’t yet ready.

We Southern/Mountain folk often add words and such all and all that stuff and a little bit of this and that the t’other. I often use colloquialism in my work, since my settings are usually in the Appalachian/Deep South. However, I am careful I do not over-do it, and as well, I use a firm hand by Knowing the Rules so I can break them when I want to.

Off of is incorrect, and plain old “off” is correct. The woman jumped off of the couch and ran to the porch to yell, “Git off’n my land!” should be: The woman jumped off the couch and ran to the porch to yell “Git off’n my land!”

As well, instead of “Could of” we should write/say “could have” – I could of had a V8 is incorrect! Don’t you watch commercials anymore to learn yer grammarfications? It’s I could have had a V8! I gots my verbs, yeah, and they’ses makes my sentence so nice and loverly!

We don’t have to merge together! We can simply merge! Who knew?

Let’s all go to the grammar store! wheee!

Nauseous versus Nauseated. If you feel it, it is nauseated. I am nauseated becauses I ain’t et my breakfas yet, y’allses. What? That sentence? What about it?

And this one I see misused over and over and over and over. More importantly and most importantly is incorrect. Sorry, it is! Is, too! Yes it is too incorrect. Humph! It should be more or most important. So, go ye and speak importantly no more!

Y’allses gots any grammerfications and other writin bloooperdoops you wanna tawlk about? :-D

Now, go do the day!

And P.S. – Thank you all for your support for Tender Graces Promo on Thursday & Friday to launch Family Graces, and for Mom’s day. Appreciate you all!

And a head’s up that Rose & Thorn Journal’s spring issue will go live the 15th –  that’s tomorrow! Hope you will stop by to peruse the prose, poetry, and art. We appreciate you.

Monday Classroom: Iconic Giants & the Firsts – what do you wish your legacy to be?

All up inside my lil ole pea-headed brain, I was thinking about the creative endeavor, about where we’ve been and where we are and where we will go–and where we want to go, or think we want to go until we arrive and then we’re all “Huh? Whaaa?” Right?Riiighhht!  Then, I ponderificated about those who came before, and those who will be remembered for time immortal and beyond (or at least until the sun dies–yes, y’allses, the sun is going to die, but no worries, it’s still some millions of years away – of course, the core is cooling, and the poles could reverse – but don’t sell everything and bunker down–that’s also quite some time a’ways).

I wandered and wondered, who(else) will be most remembered twenty, thirty, forty, one-hundred, two-hundred years from now? Do we, anymore, have the ability to create Classics in literature, music, art, architecture? And I’m not talking about the absurd–the “fashion” that comes and goes and comes and goes and goes and comes and–Lawd! I’m dizzy! He’p me!  Or have the molds been cast and then placed behind thick glass to preserve them and we can only hope to find some spot of our own outside that glass ever-looking in, in an ever-expanding crowd of creativity and mimicry of creativity?

There was a time when writers, artists, architects, dancers, musicians, et cetera, made the rules and made the new, because they trod where no one else had ever been before–or perhaps, even, it was that they were smart enough to say LOOK AT ME first–thangs had to have a beginning, right? riighhht! Someone and something was a First, in the mostest uniqueneses of ways for which we may never see that First Unique again. The first car–well, dang, won’t be another first of those, even if we design the coolest cars on the planet and call them New–they are based on that First Car. And even in that First Car, how much of it was built upon the ideas of others: Firsts Parts–the wheel, an engine–and the parts that made up that engine, seats the people sit on and the materials to make those seats, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! Even our stories have a long long long past–who told the very first story? And it was told again and again and it changed and morphed into more stories, and soon someone painted them on a cave, and then wrote it down, and then someone had the bright idea that, “I bet lots of people would like to hear this story, and to boot, I could make some money off’n it! wheeee doggies!”

It’s difficult now to find the places where no one has been, which is why there are “The Classics,” and why we have those literary (and other creative) giants/icons who are held up as larger than life, their images on cups and t-shirts and postage stamps, their works examples for those who follow or want to buck up against. One glance at an image and most know who they are. One mention of a phrase and one knows who said it, and it is deemed brilliant, never to be touched again by another – er, right?

Yes, y’all, we can create our own paths and someone may say, “Wow!” But are brilliant works and new paths sometimes swallowed by the glut of All That Out There Everywhere? Or are we becoming jaded because there’s just so much so

Don’t hide! Come on out and see the world

much so much SO MUCH SO MUCH SO MUCH SO MUCH — LAWDY BE IN A BUCKET I CAIN’T KEEPS UP!

Just what do you want from this writing/creative life? . . . think about this question and its/your answer a bit. The easy answer may be: I want my book published/on a best seller list/to make a million bucks/to be recognized by my peers/to be famous/to be loved/to be the best/to be the strongest-tallest-prettiest-smartest-richest—now take whatever answer comes to mind and dig a little further: what do you really want from this thing you are doing? Break it down, pull it apart, examine it. Turn it around, on its head, inside out and outside in. Whatever you come up with, that’s what you can work towards–and be prepared to be knocked down, or maybe have that “want” to change, or even–GASP!–to FAIL–whaaa? you may say; but but, If I never give up and try my best, I’ll get what I want, right? Nope, not always! But sheeee-it, no one ever finds out what they’s gonna git by doing nuttin!

Perhaps some of our iconic giants didn’t have to work so hard to be noticed? Perhaps they did their thang and it was deemed brilliant and unique and extree-ordinary and folkses flocked to see this New Thang – to buy it – to touch it – to be a part of it! Ohhhhhhhhhh lawdy! Shoot, I bet the first Band Wagon was so full it near to tipped over! I mean, don’t we’ses love to hop on Band Wagons–beware the Band Wagon, y’allses, for a Band Wagon is not a Cause– and it may not be the best answer to your own question.

Just as civilizations are built and then built upon and built upon again and again, so it is with language and music and art. There was the creating of new ways. And now, we build upon those “ways” — we have “rules” and “before us’ses” we follow because they were called “This is Important: Pay Attention!” and we build on those, and sometimes we throw them out, and sometimes we morph them, and sometimes we break the rules and the norm gently or even ungently. Language, art, the creative endeavor, is a living breathing thing, a malleable thing. Isn’t it? What about we create Our Own History. Our Own Way. Our Own Legacy. Sometimes even Good Enough is enough, right? Right? You tell me.

Who will find their face on a cup? Who will be caricatured on a t-shirt? Who, if anyone, will be our icons and giants in the future before the sun dies or poles reverse?–lawd! Or as we individuals die–what will we pass on to those who look to us?
What is your legacy, or what do you wish your legacy to be? To yourself, your kids, your grandkids, your friends, family, to the world?

Monday Classroom: What if writing/publishing your book were like any other job?

If we were to think about our writing life, and publishing life, as a Job, we may consider things quite differently. You interview and you then sit by the phone and wait for it to ring, sweating, hoping. Phone rings—you didn’t get the job—DANG IT ALL TO HELLVITICA! That happens again, and again, until finally that phone rings and the answer is Yes! The job is yours! WHOOOP-WHOOOOP! You put on your work clothes and—

My advance will be six figures—I’m in the money!

The company offers you “upfront” money. That money will take care of expenses and such until you show them how successful you will be and how much money you will make them, or how much output you provide to make yourself a worthwhile risk. They’ll hold back your salary until you work enough to make up that upfront money. If you work for a huge company and they have reason to believe you’ll make them lots of moola, your advance could be Big. But, if like most of us pea-headed littlers you are more of a risk, advances aren’t going to be big, and some “companies” do not pay advances at all.

I receive small advances on my books and they are manageable enough to “earn back” quickly. You have to “pay back” that advance—meaning, you have to sell enough books to cover the advance before you begin making royalties. Dream big, but know the realities, y’allses.

I thought you said I could relax on the porch? Whaaaaa?

I’m going to buy a car and a house and ten gallons of gelato from my trip to Italy. Zippity do dah! Zippity Ay!

Better check your salary again, y’aaaawwwwl! Whether big business or small, the money the company takes in and doles out—including your salary—has to go many different places. Imagine Good Ole Bubba’s Tools & Supplies. Bubba the owner hires you to make tools, and when you make those tools, he sells them. From that money he has to pay rent or mortgage on his building, utilities and other expenses; he has to pay taxes, insurance; he has to buy inventory; he has to pay all of his employees; he has to pay himself. If you provide Bubba with a service, you are only a part of the entire operation of who has to be paid. The money has to be spread around to keep the business afloat.
So, your book is published—print, e-book, ethereal transcription on a moonbeam. Everyone involved receives their cut. Industry standard royalty rate ranges are from around 6 to 15 percent for paperback/hardback and 25 to 50 percent on ebook. So, let’s suppose you get 10% royalty on each print book you sell, and your book sells for $15.00: 10% of $15.00 = $1.50 per book is your cut—well, not exactly, as you must pay taxes, and “pay back” any expenses you incurred (if any), and if you have an agent, take 15% more off the top of that $1.50. Lawdy be in a bucket!

Takes a whole lotta books to make a living off that, doesn’t it, my beauties? Now, e-books earn a better royalty, and you can plug in the numbers yourself—still, tain’t a goldmine lessen you become a Kindle Millionaire or sumpin’—be realistic about your salary. Royalties can be really good one month and not so good another month, and expenses, taxes, agents if you have one, etc etc etc eat through some of that moo-la-la. Dream big, but temper it with the realities of just how difficult it is to make a good living as an author.

My book will be reviewed by: Magazines, Oprah’s Book Club, New York Times Books, et cetera.

You’ve been working hard. You’ve put in your time and then some. You walk by The Big Boss’s office every so often, showing him/her your determined face, your sincere attitude, the nights you’ve stayed late, the weekends you’ve worked, the family time you’ve sacrified. You’ve gone to meetings and didn’t even fall asleep-haw!—okay, once, but no one was the wiser.

You’ve done everything you can think of to be noticed by The Big Boss. And, well, he/she just doesn’t notice you. He/She has so many other employees who are doing the same thing, and some of them are backed by People who are able to slip into Big Boss’s office and put in a good word, or, some other employee just happens to be in the elevator with The Big Boss when she/he’s in a good mood, or, when he/she just happens to be looking for that particular person’s smile or nod or look or good morning. Or somehow, an employee has some buzz going on a project he/she did.

There’s a lot of competition  out there. And lotso times, the Big 6 published authors garner the most attention, or the authors who’ve already had best sellers or are gaining attention for some other reason, et cetera-oony. It’s a saturated business, folkses. It’s a tough business. The Big Boss is busy, and soooo important, and frankly, doesn’t have time to get to know every little employee out there—no matter how sincere or hardworking, and even, no matter how lovely your work is. Yup. Dang.

My book will be in many bookstores across the land.

Your proposal is done. You’ve worked hard on the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account. It’s all done up in a nice folder, and

Where's that mail carrier with my Big Ass Check?

you are proud of it. Now time to get it to the right hands. There’s two-hundred offices in the building; heck, if even one-hundred or so Boss Peoples to look at your proposal, why, even that would be great; better to have all two-hundred, but you’ll settle for half. You take your shiny proposal for the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account and make a hundred-fifty copies. You put them on your desk and wait. One person comes by—it’s Ms. Office Fifteen. She’s been a casual acquaintance and you bought her coffee one day. She takes a proposal, then because she likes you, she takes three more.  HOT DAMN! You are on your way! Whooooop Whooooop! Four proposals! The other hundred-forty-six sit. La la la tee dah. *check watch* *tap fingers* *tap toes* *sob a little*

You make the rounds of a few offices: “Will you take my Slim Slamp Piddly Lam account proposal?” And a couple take one, but it ends up under a big stack of other proposals.

Some shake their heads no. They have enough proposals, no more space. You realize you just don’t have time or funds or energy to go to all hundred-forty-six offices, so you place your Slim Slam Piddly Lam account proposals on your desk, again, and hope word will get around—ungh ungh. Your supervisor who works with you on accounts is helping, too, taking half of those proposals and sending out word, newsletters, samples, et cetera. A few more proposals are placed, but, nowhere near what you thought.

The truth is: sometimes you and your publishers (agent/editors/publicists, whomever) have to practically beg a bookstore to stock your book—until they tire of begging and stop—even if you are traditionally published by a viable press. Bookstores have limited space and they’re going to stock the “bigger names” –that means bigger in publishers and in authors.

notice me! notice me! notice me! notice me! notice me! dang . . .

Sad but true, you can be a champion of brick and mortar bookstores, but when you approach them, they may or may not care. They may or may not stock your book. They may stock one just to be nice. Since you can’t conceivably contact every bookstore there is, there’s no way to have your book noticed by many bookstores—for them, it’s about their budget and sentimentality usually goes one way: the author may be sentimental about having their books in brick and mortar bookstores but the sentimentality is often not returned—it’s a hard cold world out there in this book business. Make friends with your local bookstore owners and you probably will have success there, at least.

This is why Amazon and Nook and other e-readers have become important to authors—authors feel “heard” and authors are able to see their books on “shelves.”

work work work work work work work work work *lawd* work work work

Once I have one book published, I am assured to have more published.

You landed the Shots a Lot account! Oh Happy Days are Near Again! Surely now the next couple of accounts will be Yours! You can kick back and relax now. Or . . . not. Well, dang it all to Dang Town!

With each book, you (or if you have an agent, the agent) still need to convince your publisher/publishing editor to take on your book. Even if the last book was successful. Now, granted, if you’ve had success with your first book or books, the chances are higher; however, you still need to present the book and have it approved.

This means: just as with the first time, you’ll write your novel without knowing whether you will have it published and without knowing whether all your work will be realized in print/e-book. You write regardless of the outcome. You write never knowing where it will take you, or if you will be published, if you will ever make a dime, or if you will only make a dime.

How many jobs would you take knowing these kinds of odds? How many jobs would you take making an unknown salary? How many jobs would you take where you could work your arse off for weeks, months, a year, or more, and Maybe MAYBE be paid, and maybe not? Would you take that job?

You have to love this business and have a crazy amount of faith and hope and daring.

 I want this crazy-arse roller coaster job—do you?

Monday Classroom: Behind the scenes–Ann M. Richardson, Audiobook Narrator, Voiceover Talent

I became intrigued by voice-over talent/audio book narrators when voice-talents auditioned with Bellebooks/Bell Bridge books for my novels and the novella. They’d send me a sample and I’d listen and  see if there was a “fit.”

I loved Ann Richarson’s voice as Melissa (narrator in Sweetieright away. Ann was/is perfect as Melissa–she is Melissa. I became so fascinated by a profession I didn’t know much about,  I was happy and honored when Ann took time to talk with me about what she does.

What led you to become a voice-over talent?

I had the great fortune to be read-to by my mother and grandmother.  Both were great readers, adding inflection and emotion to the stories, and stopping to explain words or innuendos when I didn’t understand.  It was not uncommon for them to become so involved in the stories that they cried or laughed when the situation became sad or funny.  My grandmother perpetually read Mary Roberts Reinhart’s “Tish” series to us, and my mother was especially gifted at doing voices; we loved when she read to us from the “Uncle Remus” stories.  In college I majored in broadcast journalism, but I got married in the middle of that and moved from Nebraska to California.  I took a break from full-time college in order to work full-time. I managed to take night classes at community colleges nearby, focusing on literature, composition, and business communication.

When we had children, of course, then, I read to them almost every night, the way I had been read to.  I volunteered in their classrooms and libraries at their schools, reading aloud. When my job evaporated with the economy in the early 2000’s, I began to contemplate a job that could enable me to stay home with the boys and still contribute to the household income. I went back to my original direction and took two community classes introducing the basics of voiceover and giving an overview of the industry.  Each class gave students the opportunity to record samples and receive a professional evaluation.  Both instructors gave me very high marks and I decided I would tackle it.

But it wasn’t until I began volunteering for Recording For the Blind and Dyslexic (now known as Learning Ally) that I discovered that narrating audiobooks was really the direction I wanted to pursue.  I still do website narrations, phone system messaging, and the odd voiceover job here and there, but narration is my passion.

You have a beautiful, clear-distinct voice, so it’s no wonder you received high marks! For anyone interested in pursuing this career, where do they start? What kind of training is required?

If you think you have the chops for it, sign up for a voiceover class (there are tons available, just Google it!) and become voracious in your search for information.  There are lots of groups on LinkedIn that you can join and learn from reading the discussions posted there.  Most important, DO NOT QUIT YOUR DAY JOB.  This is a highly competitive industry, and 90 percent of it is marketing.

Unfortunately, there is no minimum requirement of training in order to be a voiceover talent or narrator.  Recently the market has been flooded by those who have lost their jobs in the economic downturn, and since the voiceover industry has become predominantly a home-based industry (you can set up a good in-home studio for as little as $2000.00) there are many, many people auditioning for the same jobs.  Because I want to be the best I can be, I attend at least two training workshops a year, attend webinars and tele seminars as often as I can. I also read industry blogs, articles, and meet with voiceover people whenever I can. My goal for this year is to take acting lessons.  If you are more focused on long-form narration, volunteer reading aloud somewhere.  I will explain this further on in this interview.

Sweetie's mountains (mine, too)

You were consistent in Sweetie and I was amazed by how each character always sounded the same—lending an authority and exactness to your work. How do you keep up with all the characters’ voices?

When I get a narration project, the first thing I do is read the whole book.  The next thing I do is begin a journal, keeping track of each character, their history, their physical description, mannerisms, basically anything that can give me clues to how they will sound. For “Sweetie” I wrote in my notes that Sweetie herself was a cross between Pippi Longstockings and Nell (from the movie “Nell”).  She was sassy and had a heavy accent.  Melissa’s mother, I noted, was aristocratic, condescending, and pretentious, with no accent.  The bully, TJ, reminded me of Nellie Olsen from Little House On The Prairie . . . you get the picture.

There is also a lot of research that goes into the rest of the book, aside from the characters.  For example, I spent hours on the internet finding and listening to snippets of the songs that Sweetie would sing occasionally.  I watched documentaries on TV about the Appalachian region’s language, and I googled the accent.  I also found, in a weird way, that all those years watching NASCAR with my husband paid off.  Many of those drivers are from North Carolina, and I could hear all their voices in my head while I was reading!

Wow! You do your research—but it shows. And you also sing quite well, by the way. :-D. (The NASCAR reference made me laugh.) So, d
o you have any favorite kinds of books?

I absolutely love young adult literature.  Especially if it’s colorful and exciting, like “Sweetie” was. I love it when the characters are well-developed, and authors use colorful descriptive words. Oddly enough, I’ve been cast for several memoirs lately, and that is a much different style; very low-key and almost informational in delivery, but I enjoy that as well.  My passion for reading revolves around communicating, and making sure the reader understands what the author is trying to get across.

How about some funny, or uncomfortable, or weird, or just plain “Oh Dear!” moments in this business? 

I’ve had a few bloopers.  Most of them just get edited out, but one was pretty funny and I ended up sharing it with the author, who shared it on her website, as did the publisher, Oasis Audio.  The book was “Moonlight on Linoleum” by Terry Helwig, and there came a point in the story where the main character got herself in a pickle, and even though I’d read the book before I started, the scene suddenly struck me funny and I got to laughing and couldn’t stop.  I didn’t stop recording because I was just lost in the moment, and I couldn’t help myself.

There was another book I narrated, a textbook on Protestantism, where I pronounced “pastoral” not as “PAStoral” but as “pasTORal” every time I came across the word.  Hey, I was raised on a farm, whaddaya expect! I had to go back and fix all of those. Very tedious.

shhhh!

Another aspect to consider when you begin recording is how quiet your recording environment is.  My biggest enemies are leaf-blowers, FedEx trucks, and my dog snoring.  I can put the dog outside but there is no remedy for the others.  My family has also had to make adjustments for my career.  They must be very quiet in the house while I’m recording.  Spring break and summer are especially difficult.  But things have become much better for them since my sister-in-law got me a neon sign that says “VOICEOVER RECORDING!”  I turn it on every time I record and they can easily see when they should be quiet.  This has also led to an interesting problem.  I forget to turn it off.  This prompted my 13 year old to make a sign for me that he taped to the wall outside my booth: “DFATLM” (Don’t Forget About The Light, Mother).

See, one Saturday afternoon, I’d finished recording and had forgotten to turn it off. My husband was working on the car (he was heavily into racing cars up until a few years ago, and so he has all the good air-impact tools) and this day he saw my light on and so rotated all the tires, changed the oil and various other tasks, all using hand tools. He came in from the garage rubbing his sore, wrenched shoulder.  He was NOT HAPPY when he saw me sitting on the couch, and my light was still on.

DFATLM.

*laughing!*–oops! By the way, my brother, who lives in Oklahoma, raced cars for a while.  Ann, how are you and books/authors connected?

I am not shy about contacting authors, if the publisher is ok with that, but sometimes publishers prefer to be the go-between, which is fine.  I love to connect with the authors for pronunciations, clarification on confusing situations, or to make sure I’m on the right track. I want to do the story justice, and present it the way the author wants it painted.  A good narrator disappears; the characters emerge and it’s not my voice anymore, but theirs.  My mom gave me the highest compliment on a book once.  She said, “I forgot it was my daughter narrating, and got lost in the story!”  My first paid audiobook was a memoir of a sight-impaired professor, who was learning to use a guide dog.  She was very actively involved in the reading of her story, and guided me through how she wanted it read, inflections, pronunciations, and pacing.  She was really a blessing in disguise, and it was very hard work.  But as they say, “No pain, no gain!” and that long, arduous book taught me so much about recording, pacing, characterization, and consistency, and proof-listening, that I felt I should have paid her!

Does your voice ever give out? Do you have to do special things to keep up your voice/vocal cords?

A brand of throat coat that has licorice root! Sweetie gave Melissa tea with licorice root! :-D I love coincidences . . .

Audiobook narration is a marathon, whereas voiceovers such as commercials, website narrations, etc, are like sprints.  When one narrates, he/she should be able to record for hours at a time.  This means you learn what your body can handle, and still deliver a good product (pay attention to consistency!)  You learn what foods make your stomach growl, what drinks produce mucous in your throat, what foods make your mouth sound sticky, and what remedies work best for a cold, sore throat, or congestion.  You learn not to party hard the night before you narrate, and to get plenty of rest and of course DRINK LOTS OF WATER.  I feel that being in good physical shape is paramount to good breathing, and so I run a lot. I don’t consume dairy of any kind before I narrate, or you can’t hear me over my stomach, and I never drink orange juice, or I sound like I have a mouthful of peanut butter.  There is an awesome tea called “throat coat” that I drink non-stop while I narrate.  It keeps the mouth lubricated, but not “clicky”.  And if I begin to sound hoarse, I stop talking COMPLETELY for about an hour.

Are there characters you don’t like and find distasteful to voice-over?

eeek eeek eeek, eek?

I have not yet come across a character whom I didn’t want to voice.  The nasty ones are fun to get down and dirty with, and the more colorful, the better!  Technically, though, I find myself the most challenged to portray elderly men.  I have to practice that.  That’s part of why I want to take acting lessons this year.  I want to learn more techniques that will enhance my skills, and be a better, more versatile narrator.  I once was narrating a children’s book for Learning Ally, and had to voice a hamster for a whole chapter.  That’s A LOT of squeaking! There were literally no words, just “eeeeeek, squeak, eeeek weeeeeek!” for a WHOLE CHAPTER.

Well, I liked what you did with Zemry, the old man in Sweetie. Any advice to offer for those interested in doing voice-over work?

Google everything.  Do your homework!  Listen to as many podcasts or tele seminars as you can; read books; sign up for an introductory class.  This is not for the faint of heart, but there is much work to be found, if you’re dedicated, ambitious, and tenacious.  Here are some resources to check out:  www.edgestudios.com, www.voiceoverextra.com, www.voiceoveruniverse.com, www.acx.com.  If you want to find out if you think you’re able to do this kind of work, I STRONGLY encourage you to find a program where you can volunteer reading for those who need this service.  I volunteer weekly for Learning Ally, www.learningally.org, where I record two hours at a time.  No matter how busy I am, I make time to continue this.  The members who use this service depend on us to record textbooks, including such intricate and complicated volumes as calculus, physics, math, and chemistry (we’re talking elementary through college level here!) to children’s literature, fictional works, and even stage plays.  Some of the members have made it through college using our services, and are working on their masters or doctorate degrees!  They are truly motivated and amazing in what they accomplish. Please visit the website.  This is a non-profit organization run ENTIRELY on volunteer readers.

In addition to providing a valuable service, recording such a variety of texts hones one’s skills as a narrator and gives you a chance to try things you wouldn’t have the opportunity otherwise, such as accents, character voices, learning new recording software, etc., while still keeping in mind your must produce a high-quality, pleasant-to-listen-to recording.

Thank you Ann! Appreciate you! And thank you for bringing my characters, and the characters of other authors, to life.

For more information on Ann and her work, visit her website, or Learning Ally, or email Ann  at annmrichardson@hersmoothvoice.com .

Also, coincidentally, after we finished up this interview, this weekend Sweetie the audiobook went on sale at Amazon, itunes, and audible.com. Good timing! :-D

A short sampling to listen to: Sweetie & Melissa at Whale Back Rock (as well, there are samples on the links above)

(Hamster image – Visit the ASPCA, animal shelters, and other wonderful animal-lover places!)

Monday Classroom: let’s drink a big ole glass of Discipline Juice, y’allses!

The thing that keeps me on my treadmill for an hour and then to my strength training exercises and then to my mat for yoga; the thing that stops me from eating beyond the point when I have had quite enough; the thing that tells me “no” when I want something I can’t afford and so I walk away from it; the thing that has me flossing every night because it is good for me; the thing that keeps me healthy and strong and powerful is—Discipline. But this isn’t Wednesday and time for Personal Trainer Kat, this is Monday Classroom.

So, my beautiful friends, that same discipline I use for my body is a contributing factor—a hah-uuuge one—to being a successful author/novelist. And by “successful,” for these purposes, I mean an author/novelist who creates and completes

works. And for this author, that means at least a book a year–so far. Without discipline, it’s easy to slip into the idea of writing, to talking about writing, to writing about writing, without ever actually writing the danged ole book. I’m looking at you—yeah you! You with the Face! The Guilty Face! You know I’m right don’t you? Right? Riiighhht. And my face can be added to the guilty since I have been doing just about everything BUT the writing of “The Lightning Charmer,” which is due in a year–and that year will speed of light pass. Why have I not been writing?–shiny things! shiny things! shiny things! And folkses, the writing is what I love the best–it’s the balm that soothes. I’ve not been drinking my Discipline Juice and it shows–my black-holed brain’s synapses are WHOOP WHOOP WHIR WHIR BA-LOOP BA-LOOP BOING BOING. Oh dear.

As much as I love what I do–writing books–I sometimes will procrastinate. Yeah! Me! Huhn. Can you buh-leeve it? Little ole pea-headed me la tee dahing around as if I don’t have a thang in the world to do – la la la la la tee dah. There’s some shiny thing that captures my attention, or I’ll play on the internet, or I’ll call myself doing “research” when I know all I’m doing is messing around. Well,  it’s time for danged ole mean Discipline to pull me up by my ears and sit my arse in my chair and put my fingers on the keys and tell me, “Stop fekering around and write your danged book, or else!”

My (and yours, too?) Or else’s could mean, do mean—

The less I write, the crazier I am—oh you think I am being a cliché? That I’m pulling on that “writer’s persona” – oh no y’allses. I am slap dab cray-cray when I do not regularly write. And “or else” means I’ll not meet my deadlines—if I were working at a “9 to 5 regular job” and didn’t do my work, I’d be fired; well, it’s the same if I don’t meet my deadlines—then I could hear a see ya Kat! We’ll go find some author who takes her job seriously and meets her deadlines and actually writes books instead of just saying she’s going to—huhn. I’ve always met my deadlines because I drank my Discipline Juice. Give me a glass, quick! If I don’t write my readers will sure miss my books—okay, this is  my hope anyway *haw!* But, yes, I suppose there are some who would miss me before eventually forgetting about me because there are plenny more authors out there who will WRITE THE DANGED BOOK! It means I don’t pull in a salary. “Or else” means I let people down—and I let myself down.

Folks, whatever it is you want, discipline is the vehicle to drive you there—hey “drive” – yeah – discipline and drive – get it Huh? get it! Ha!

Discipline: Thesaurus on word doc reads—control, regulation, restraint, authority obedience, and the opposite of it reads: CHAOS. Oh! How perfect for me! Yes, chaos happens inside my pea-headed brain and all up and around this here Self when I am not disciplined. Lawdy be.

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird -

Y’allses, you must drink your daily glass of Discipline Juice so you can grow strong and supple and capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound! Or at least you will reach your goals and do the things you wish for, hope for, live for, dream about, and if leaping tall buildings in a single bound is your dream, well, um, well—okay, it probably ain’t gonna happen—I hate to be the one to bust up your bubbles but maybe you oughta think of something else to strive for. Just sayin. Buildings are TALL, dang it all. Oh, you meant metaphorically leap over them -well, why didn’t you say so. Huhn.

Without discipline we eat and drink too much, spend too much, laze around too much, make excuses too much.

Discipline can suck. Discipline is a party-pooper. Discipline is on its high-horse, sitting there all holier than thou and all, huhn! But, it belongs on its pedestal, for when it is practiced, when discipline is hugged to us and becomes a part of us, it creates and builds and achieves and glorifies and stretches us beyond what and where we ever thought we’d go and be.

La tee dah - oh the inside of my hat is soooo innnnnerestin' shiny things shiny things!

Discipline is what is going to get me off this blog and into my word doc, off bloopering around social networking (even telling myself “but it’s for my novels—I’m promo’ing!” Uh Huh, you are “promo’ing” about as much as a dawg “promos” on the lawn. You ain’t doing shit.), gets me out of my Boopmobile “because I have to run some errands” (although I do rarely leave my lil log house and maybe should run more errands, haw!), gets me off my couch until it’s actually time to hit my couch—sends me right-cheer to sit on my butt and write The Lightning Charmer and the next book and the next. To give it all I have. To write with all the heart I have—and when I do this, I am doing what I do best, what I love, and it’s the greatest thing ever, and then Discipline shakes its head and rolls its eyes as I say, “Why’d I procrastinate? This is WONDERFUL! This is all I ever wanted to do! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! YAAAHOOOOOOOOOO!”

So how’s about it y’all? Let’s all drink a big ole glass of Discipline Juice and get our arses to work. You up for it? Drink it down and then use Discipline when that next “THANG” hovers before your brain all tantalizing and shiny—that choice you will make without excuses to do what you have to/must do for your dreams is Discipline. The choice (discipline) that will yield results.

What do you need to be more disciplined about, my friends?

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