Points I Ponder

Realities of Life

I can’t see the end for the beginning, not getting there fast enough, in some instances, and I’m not sure if I want to. I don’t know the end, and I don’t want to know it, as I’m continuously accomplishment-driven, always looking for something to do, to complete, waiting for the next step to take, to complete, but yet here I set wondering what that end might be. Yes, one of these days I’m going to die, the ultimate end, there’s no assurances as to when or how, maybe fifty years, maybe fifty days, but until then, I look for completions. The ending of one thing segueing into the beginning of another, and repetition of the cycle until such time that my end comes.

Am I doing whatever I can to be good at what I am?

I ask myself where I am going and how I am doing with all the important issues in my life:

  • Am I a good human being?
  • Am I a good father?
  • Am I a good husband?
  • Am I a good friend?
  • Am I a good writer?
  • Am I a productive worker?

These are not the questions of self-doubt, but of reality checking.  I need to be good at these things as I’ve purposefully chosen to take on these responsibilities.  There are good days where I succeed on all fronts and there are days when I fail on them, as well. It’s the nature of the beast, the nature of being a human being.  I  will never have days that are perfect, but I  can strive for my definition of perfection.  Mine won’t be yours and yours won’t be mine.

Being who I am and not what people expect me to be

That’s the great thing about individuality.  My definition of success has to be met by none other than me. Your definition of success does not have to be met by anyone other than you.  I think too many people get caught up using other people’s or society’s definition of success as a barometer for their own and are constantly met with failures. Although we can learn from failures, the lessons we take away helpful for our growth but painful to our psyche, they can sometimes be detrimental by setting our definition of success by the success of others.  This will always put us in a place and situation where we can never achieve our true success.

Setting my goals realistically

If I believe myself successful by writing 1,000 words per day, and I write 999, then by definition, I was not successful. However, if I set a goal to write for thirty minutes per day and write 999 words, then I was successful.  Our perception, the only one that matters can be changed by how we determine our definition of success.  Looking at it from a different perspective, if I set a goal of writing 1000 words per day, and on any given day, I write 1200 words, have I met my goal of success for that day or did I undervalue my capabilities, my potential.  Do I then change my goal to write 1200 words per day, knowing that I have done it once?  I could change my goal, knowing I had met it and deal with the days that I don’t make it, but it is a step toward improvement – becoming a better writer.

I look at where I want to be concerning my writing.  Will I be a published author? Published? What does that mean? If by definition, having an agent, going through a conventional publisher, and seeing my books on store shelves means published, then yes. That’s what I am seeking. Seeking? No. I am working toward that goal.  It’s not just a thought or a wish.  It is a defined goal, knowing full well there will be obstacles, which hopefully, I have taken into account in the realistic planning of that goal and execution of the steps required to reach it.

Embracing Change

There are days when I do nothing except stare at the screen, wondering if the words will come, and there are others, where the words flow like a rampaging river, pouring from my soul onto the pages.  I can never determine how each day will be when I first wake up, watching it transmogrify into something of its own making.  I plan, I prepare, but inevitably there is always something that changes my well-laid plans into something other than what I intended to be in the perfect “this is how my day’s going to be” scenario in my brain.  With a full-time job, family, and friends, there are always modifiers that can suddenly appear in my life schedule, but I do my best to take those into account.

Knowing that change will happen and accepting that it will happen are two different things.  I have learned to identify those obstacles what will produce change and have learned to accept the changes that occur on a daily basis as part of life.  Change, although frustrating at times when you have plans or a schedule you’d like to keep, can make life interesting and fun.  Other times, change can make you want to pull your hair out.  I don’t have an excessive amount remaining, so I try to avoid that scenario.

What-ifs are a part of life and I’ve gotten pretty good at reacting to changes, whether on the macro or micro level, in order to have a successful day of some sorts.  It’s not always perfect, but if I expected perfection, no changes to the schedule I have planned, it would drive me completely bonkers.  Learning how to react to change without it shutting you down is important for growth.  There is no magic elixir, no 100% foolproof plan.  You have to find what works for you.  Being able to successfully adapt to changes thrown at you, will reduce your stress, improve your goal accomplishment, and allow you to prosper in every aspect of life.  Don’t be afraid to embrace change, as it’s as much a part of your life as the goals and schedules you set.

 

A Writer’s Journey

About a year and a half ago, I started writing again. It had been over ten years since I had written anything productive and at first, it felt foreign to me.  Fortunately or unfortunately, I had a few life-changing events that prompted me to delve back into my writing to give me something on which to focus, other than how not-so-great my life was at the time. I didn’t realize it, but writing saved me from who I could have turned into.  Writing became my therapy and helped me power through a rough time. I’ve always been one to grab the proverbial bull by the horns, but with the writing, I don’t think I would have lasted the eight seconds.

A Few Things to Remember

  1. I didn’t start writing again to get published – I honestly wasn’t going to show my book to anyone. I did it for me and it felt refreshing not having any pressure on how it turned out.
  2. Close friends and family actually liked what I wrote and suggested I should keep writing and try to get it published.  You know how friends and family are – if they’re generally supportive, being good friends and family, they’ll tell you it’s good, whether it actually is or not.
  3. I liked my story.  It came from the heart and from personal experience and was definitely soul-cleansing and gut-wrenching for me, personally.  A lot of memories were dredged up and a lot of tears were shed.  The writing had done its job.  I was a better person at the end of that thirty days.

How did it happen?

I sat down and started writing on May 1, 2017. Thirty days later I finished the first draft at a little over 100,000 words.  I hadn’t just written a story.  I had written a novel.  I was a writing juggernaut.

Yeah, that was a lot of words in one month, many days spent burning the midnight oil, paying attention only to my writing, and neglecting almost everything else.  I went to work, came home, slept, and wrote.  That was life at the time.  Afterward, I felt bad about it, but everyone that is close to me understood and realized I needed that time to get things right in my life.  I chose a path to help me through that time and I’m glad I chose a positive one.  Although I could handle that same rigorous schedule again, in retrospect, I think I’d take a little more time the next time.  More later on that subject.

After I wrote the first book in my series, I realized I wasn’t finished with the story and I decided to get organized.  I had caught the writing bug again.

I cleaned up the manuscript, editing away, and was able to chop it down to about 94,000 words.  I can’t say that I’ve ever liked the editing process, but it’s a necessary evil plus, I wanted my story to read well, if for no one else but me.  Putting words to paper is a wonderful feeling, but editing, and let’s be real, is what makes a good story great. I don’t so much dread the editing process as much as I used to, but it’s still not as fun as developing the characters, building the words and creating a story out of nothing.

What Happened Next?

After I finished editing the first novel in my series, with the name changing several times, and finally settling on the name, The Veteran, I decided to continue with the story.  Normally, I’m not a planner, but I took the time to map out my story and realized it was going to take more than two books to finish.  I still haven’t decided where, when, or if it’s going to end, but the more I write, the more material is created.  It’s like a well that won’t run dry and I smile when I think back to how I thought when I started.  It was going to be one story, one book (maybe), and when it was done I’d go back to living a normal life.  I don’t what know I was thinking and I certainly don’t know what a “normal” life is anymore, but I’m in a good place on many fronts.

Book two was more of a challenge, dealing with new characters, their development, places to go, people to kill, people to save, all the while keeping my main character from imploding like I had nearly done.  The story was in my head, but it was getting more complicated and I wanted to make sure that I did a better job with the second novel than I did with the first.  I wish I could I say I was living vicariously through my MC, but it was more of the other way around.  I was putting many of my life experiences to paper, and though less painful and more enlightening than the first time around, there were some moments where I questioned revealing more about myself.

Improvement

As I was writing, I wanted more knowledge and who better to reach out to than other writers.  I didn’t realize the extent of the writing community online.  After doing a little digging, I decided on a nom de plume and created my profile on various social media sites.  I’m no stranger to social media, having worked in the IT field for the past 25 years, and having had a personal online presence in some form or fashion for nearly as long, so it came easily to me.  I was floored at how huge the writing community was and although it was like drinking from a firehose at first, I started developing contacts, talking with people, creating friendships, gathering followers and building a presence I didn’t think was possible.  There are so many gimmicks out there for creating your author presence, and so many of them are a sham.  With a little studying, some mental elbow grease, and through asking a ton of questions of other authors, I was able to build my presence, albeit minor compared to some, to what it is today.

I learned very quickly who the good groups and good people were, the ones that would provide helpful advice, honest feedback, and positive criticism.  I also learned there are a lot of nut jobs out there who live their entire life online, seeking attention whether through the “woe is me, my life sucks, make me feel better about myself” approach, the “hey, look at what I did” approach, or worse yet, “you suck, I’m better than you and I’m going to tell you so” approach.  If this offends you, you might want to consider how you identify yourself.  Just remember, life sucks for everyone at one point or another and it’s how you handle it that counts.

Social Media

By the time I got around to start my second book in the series, I had started to develop a decent social media presence;

  • Website – Build your website. Do yourself a favor and purchase your domain.  It’ll make things easier in the long run and helps you establish the first steps to creating your brand.  There are a number of platforms such as WordPress or Wix that are fairly easy to use.  As you see, I use WordPress, but I like its flexibility.
  • Facebook – Build a Facebook author/book fan page. I built a Facebook profile, as well to interact with others in the writing community.  There are a lot of resources out there on how to build a fan page and how to set up your author Facebook profile to help you reach your success.
  • Twitter – This is a powerhouse of a platform for writers and you can, with hard work and perseverance, connect with some awesome people like I have, which will help with your brand.  Interact with #writingcommunity and you will find that a whole new world will open up to you.  Play the hashtag prompt games – interact with the other authors.  Twitter can be a great conduit to other sites.
  • LinkedIn – this is the more professional side of the house and you’ll need this.
  • Instagram – if you like posting photos, this is a great site for you.
  • Pinterest (still working on that one), and my website.

If you haven’t done it yet, I’ll be honest.  It takes a lot of time and hard work to make it happen successfully.  I didn’t pay anyone to do anything for me, but with an IT background, I had a little advantage over most.  Anyone can do it with a little knowledge-seeking, perseverance, and lots of patience. It’s not going to happen overnight but it can happen if you keep at it.

Tools of the Trade

In order to build anything, you’ll need tools and you’re going to need to invest in your brand.  Nothing comes free, so be prepared to spend a few dollars up front and on an ongoing basis. There are a lot of tools available. but here are some of the ones I use.  I’ve tried a number of them, some failing miserable, some moderately helpful, and some I can’t live without. Not all tools are for everyone and depending on how you write and how you plan, you’ll want to choose tools that best suit your needs.  Here is a list of tools I use:

  • MS Word/Google Docs – for writing. Some people use Scrivener. It’s a great product if that is what works for you.
  • Grammarly – for checking my writing (there is a plugin for Word, and Google Docs has it built in)
  • AutoCrit – for analyzing and cleaning up my document. I don’t use this until after the initial editing, but it’s a POWERFUL tool.
  • IFTTT.com – for scheduling posts and other functions across multiple social media platforms
  • Tweetdeck – for monitoring my Twitter feed
  • Canva.com – for building posts/graphics for the different platforms
  • WordPress – for my website. Buy your domain. It will help in the long run.
  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest – Brand Building.

These are just a few of the tools and sites I use.  If you’d like to know more, just ask me.

Building My Brand

With the end of the year approaching and due to some personal challenges, I took a little time off from writing to refocus and spent time working on my social media.  I wanted to build my brand.  I needed to build my brand.

The author presence you’re building is your BRAND and anything you do, negative or positive, will stick with you for a very long time. 

Building your brand requires:

  • You have a plan on what you want it to be.
  • You have to keep at it daily.
  • You have to interact with others for it to be effective.
  • You have to be present – it’s not going to build itself.
  • You have to respond.
  • You have to reciprocate.  You follow me.  I follow you. No, you’re not a special snowflake who “deserves” followers because of a few facebook posts, blog posts or tweets.  Get over yourself now and you won’t have to later.  People will figure it out and stop following you if you don’t follow them back.  It’s called etiquette.
  • Try to be positive.  It’s good for the soul and makes things better.  Being negative all the time isn’t going to help you progress.

People will remember you by your words, not by your intent, no matter how well-meaning you were or try to be. 

People are like elephants.  They don’t forget if you’ve slighted them, felt wronged by your words, or just think you’re a jerk because of your opinion.  I’m not saying to not have an opinion.  I saying to temper your words with forethought and realize the potential impact they can have on your future as an author.  In the last year and a half, I have seen many authors crash and burn because of how they interacted with others on social media.  You don’t want to be that pariah.  Don’t burn your bridges before you have them built.  You never know who you will run into in the future or who might have some influence over your writing career.

Good word travels.  Bad word travels faster.

I have found that people, especially people in the publishing industry, have a keen interest in how authors conduct themselves on social media.  Keep your personal business private, and your author business public.  Keep those profiles separated.  Learn what to share and what not to share.  There are a few subjects that I’ve found are very touchy and if you’re not careful, regardless of how you feel about them, one misstep can cause a downward spiral for your potential author career.

  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Sexuality

It’s not my place to tell, and I wouldn’t, what you should say or shouldn’t say. I love civil discourse. The key word being civil.

Civil discourse is “the language of dispassionate objectivity”, and suggests that it requires respect of the other participants, such as the reader. It neither diminishes the other’s moral worth, nor questions their good judgment; it avoids hostility, direct antagonism, or excessive persuasion; it requires modesty and an appreciation for the other participant’s experiences (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_discourse)

Remember this:

Freedom of speech does not mean you are not free from the consequences of the words you choose.

Back to the Grind

I started writing book two at the beginning of July and finished with a word count of a little over 95,000 words about the beginning of September.  I did some preliminary edits and then decided I wanted to go back and edit book one.

Once I had a good framework for my social media presence, I decided to revisit book one and see what I could do, but I had reached an impasse with my editing.  I knew that I couldn’t proceed without professional help.  I had reached a point where I was not objective enough to see the flaws in my story.  Nobody is – This is truth!

At the beginning of 2018, I started looking for an editor and found one.  She’s amazing, by the way, and I’ll be happy to share her contact information with you, with her permission, of course.  We worked on book one for almost ten months.  Why did it take so long?  We have real lives; families, kids, and work full time. I go to work, she’s a stay-at-home mom and has her hands full. Life happens, and it did, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  We had our challenges but we persevered through all life threw at us.  We work well together and I plan on keeping her around for however long she’ll be my editor

Everyone Needs An Editor!

I don’t care if you find someone who will do it for free, use alpha & beta readers, or hire someone.  You’re going to need an editor to give you guidance on how to fix your writing.  If you think you don’t need an editor because your writing is just that good, more power to you, but don’t be surprised if your writing doesn’t reach the level it should be.

Humility is a necessary trait for a writer

If you’re not humble about your writing and your skills, and not willing to take constructive feedback, then stop writing.  It’s that simple.  There will always be better writers but if you are humble, accept the constructive feedback, work on improving your writing through practice, education, and hard work, then you will succeed.

Where I Am Now

About a month and a half ago, we finished up the final edits on book one.  Book two still needs editing, and I’ve managed to write part of book three, and map out books four and five.  I’m more excited about the round of editing for book two than I was for the first book, thanks to my editor.

When I first started this process, after deciding I want to be published, I chose the traditional publishing route.  I love authors who self-publish, many of my close writing friends are successful self-published authors, but I felt traditional is the way to go for me.  I’ve spent months researching the publishing industry, gathering data, learning about agents, the nature of the business, how to set myself up for success in this industry.

In the middle of December, I started sending out queries to agents.  If you choose this route, you’ll need to do a LOT of research and save it somewhere.  Take lots of notes and learn from your failures.  You won’t improve if you keep doing the same thing, over and over again, hoping for a different result.  That would be insanity.

Lessons I Have Learned

  • Have goals – Where do you want to be in a week, a month, six months, a year?
  • Have a plan – Whether you are a planner or a pantser or a combination of both, you still have to have a plan.
  • Execute the plan – The plan will do you no good unless you execute it.
  • Write Always – You have to keep writing, regardless of where you are in the process.
  • Research – Learn everything you can about writing, about the publishing industry (whether you self-publish or traditional publish), about social media, about other authors, about agents, and most importantly, about yourself.  You must know yourself and what you want.
  • Interact – get online and keep your brand moving along.  Grow it, strengthen it, and improve it.  Remember – your words will dictate how other people see you.  Choose them wisely.
  • Don’t give up.  You can win if you quit.

Will I be successful?  Yes, I will eventually.  It may not happen overnight. It rarely does, but I have realistic expectations of what is required of me to make it through this process.

It’s not for everyone, but it is for me. I will be a published author, but regardless of where it goes, I know I am one thing.

I am a Writer!

You can find me on Facebook, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram

 

Writer’s Hashtags & Prompts

 

Tips & Tricks on 

How to Play in the #WritingCommunity

As an avid writing #prompt participant, I am frequently asked by people new to the #writingcommunity how they should go about joining in and participating.

I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll gladly share how I do it.

Here are a number of things I wish I would have known when I first started. Every day, there are #writingprompts in which you can participate.

I’ve listed the ones in which I participate, and some, which I don’t. These are most of the common ones. This is not an all-inclusive list and I did not omit any purposefully.

A big shout out to the Prompt Listers.  These are great profiles to follow.

@PromptAdvant
@PromptList
@SciFiPrompt
@SuperheroSat
@writevent

If you’re a prompt host and would like to see your prompt on this page, let me know, and I’ll be happy to add it. 

I’m not into poetry, but there are a lot of great #poetry writing prompts out there, so check out the #PoetryCommunity for more information.

If someone in the #poetrycommunity will provide me with the prompts, I’ll gladly add them to the lists here.

Writing Cohorts

Hashtag Host
#writerslegion @ramona_is_here

Writing Sprint Roundups

Hashtag Host
#ShutUpAndWrite
@KatyPeplinCoach
@ShutUpAndWrite1
#7amWritersClub @margarchivist
#5amwritersclub
#5pmwritersclub

Daily Prompts

Hashtag Host
#BardBits @DarqueBardBits
#DimpleVerse @Dimpleverse
#dvprompt @AuthorBertEdens
#QuillVerse @TheQuillDiaries
#QuirkyQuip @sevannah_storm
#SalemVerse @SalemVerse
#WIPWordSearch @carly_marino
#WrittenRiver @WrittenRiver
#VSS365 Search for #vss365 prompt @TheWritingKind 

Weekly Prompts

Sunday
Hashtag Host
#CarnalVerse @MadQueenStorm
#NatureVerse @MadQueenStorm
#saidsun @WendyGoldAuthor
#salacioussun @audrey_ravine
#seducemesunday @EJ_Reine
#sinistersunday @JanGoesWriting
#sundayfict @I_am_S_A
#sunscribbles @DragonspireUK
#sunwip @JudyLMohr
#SunWrite @C_M_E_121
Monday
Hashtag Host
#AdultficWri @awheeler2017
#LoveLines @ellekarmawrites
#LustyMondayLit @kinkislove
#MadVerse @MadQueenStorm
#MartialMonday @EllisLoganBooks
#MissMuseMe @bevandeveire
#Monsense @alexloganwrites
#MonWIP @C_M_E_121
#Moodmon @byreneelozano
#MuseMon @babybeachblues
#multilinemon @Nathaniel_Kaine
#murdermonday @McLeanSix
#ProjectfairyTale @Ever_____After
#RewriteItClub @KJHarrowick
Tuesday
Hashtag Host
#BookishTues @_NicolaNoble_
#Btr2sDay @GrProject43X
#FoodParty @foodpartytues
#HODHeartbeats @HODRWA
#TuesTropes @chipmunkofpower
#TuesdayCliches @PressCliche
#Tuesline @FallonDemornay
#TuesWrite @C_M_E_121
#Twisted2sDay @ArthurUnkTweets
#trickytues @Ida_Richens
Wednesday
Hashtag Host
#1LineWed @RWAKissofDeath
#TalesNoir @TalesNoir
#WednesWIP @C_M_E_121
#WIPitWed @WritersUnify
#WiPpetWednesday @ShannonAHiner
#WordWhim @LillianBlaire
#wackywed @BB_Swann
#wednesworld @cat_esch
#weirdwriters @chipmunkofpower
Thursday
Hashtag Host
#140line @linein140
#FeelLines @scyian
#Thurds @thurdswords
#ThursdayAesthetic @literarilyjess
#ThursPeak @TheSophiaLeRoux
#Thurstale @ellekarmawrites
#Thurswrite @C_M_E_121
#WordWorlds @Jake_Writes
#WriteThurs @tanjasramirez
Friday
Hashtag Host
#BeElysian @RelkenWrites
#FellowshipFridays @FellowshipF
#FP or #FridayPhrases @FridayPhrases
#FictFri @Gracie_DeLunac
#FictFriNotG @Gracie_DeLunac
#FollowFriday #FF Shout out for fellow writers
#Fri1st @K_A_Grayson
#FriDare @micascotti
#FriWIP @C_M_E_121
#FridayKiss @YourFridayKiss
#Fritease @johnfpendleton
#lesficfri @OceanWrites
#SciFiFri @SciFiPrompt
#wffriday @LibbyFeltis
#WhoNeedsAHero @dwlandsborough
#WordInSense @SJGreenHart
#WriteAskew @RhetoricAskew
Saturday
Hashtag Host
#BadWordSat @WillieHandler
#SatSplat @craytusjones
#SatWrite @C_M_E_121
#SciFanSat @SciFanSat
#SciFiSat @SciFiPrompt
#ShareWrit @Gracie_DeLunac
#SlapDashSat @SlapDashSat    @Madd_Fictional
#SuperheroSat @SuperheroSat
#WomenWrite @Nessma_Elssawy

Monthly Prompts

Hashtag Host
#SlamWords @MadQueenStorm

How do you keep up with so many prompts?

I get this question all the time. I’ve developed a system using google docs (I love GDocs). I have a folder where I have one document file for each day of the week and a subfolder
for daily event prompts, where I keep the corresponding day’s prompt:

Screenshot of my G Drive

When the day rolls around:

  1. Open the day’s file on GDocs
  2. Check Free Writing Events for weekday prompts and Superhero Saturday for weekend prompts. Most of the prompts are posted a little before midnight of
    the next day so you can get a jump on it. Some hosts post their prompts days in advance, while some wait until the morning of the event. Each host is different, but you’ll figure it out quickly who posts ahead of time.

    1. I have most of the writing prompt hosts profiles bookmarked to make it easier to find the prompt and then I fill in the information in the Gdoc
    2. You can also copy and paste the hashtag from your GDoc file into the search bar to find it. Once you’ve practiced it a few times, it gets easier.
  3. Don’t forget to check your daily prompts (See Daily Prompts above).
  4. Open your MS or whatever docs you’re using and search for the prompt.
  5. Copy the sentence or paragraph and paste to your tweet. If you’re not sure of the character count, here’s a great site to count your characters before you post to your tweet – Twitter Character Counter
  6. Add your various hashtags for the day + these (not required but get your tweets more attention) #amwriting #amediting #WIP #writingcommunity #writing. There are a lot of hashtags you can use, but it’s best to use the ones that apply to your
    tweet.
  7. Tweet your heart out!
  8. Lather, Rinse and Repeat.

Be well. Have fun. Enjoy your writing.

 

Twitterquette for Writers

So, officially I’ve been on Twitter for a little over 5 years now, but have only come online as an Author for about 18 months. In that 18 months, I have found a number of behaviors a little disturbing so I decided to write this post. These are my opinions, and you know what everyone says about opinions…

Twitter, for writers, is an interesting social media subculture. It is very accepting of new writers, with most experienced writers always willing to lend a hand and embrace the newbies. I was that newbie, now a little more seasoned and consider myself to be somewhat of a veteran at the old’ daily writing prompts game. There are still things for me to learn, but as I’ve done with everything else in my life, I’m actually going to take the time and learn it and be successful with it. There are no shortcuts to success in life. A lesson hard learned by not only me but many out there.

Eight Interesting Twitter Behaviors I’ve Observed…

  1. I hate Politics BUT – People will post that they hate politics yet 80% of their posts are about politics. Give it a rest. We know you hate whoever it is that you hate.
  2. I hate Religion BUT – see #1. The same applies here.
  3. Buy Link Bonanza – Retweeting nothing but your own stuff or buy links. Yeah, I get it. You’re trying to sell your book or promoting other people’s books, but if that’s all you’re going to post, it becomes ineffective. I’m all for helping other authors. I do all the time, but when you’re clogging my feed with buy links and nothing else that might prove useful to me as a writer, again, it becomes ineffective and I use the mute/unfollow. But hey, if the shotgun approach works for you, be my guest.
  4. Follow then Unfollow – Tweeps, yes even some, not all, writer tweeps, are guilty of this one – following a lot of people in order to get them to follow back and then unfollowing in order to falsely inflate their ratio of following to followers, Maybe it’s an ego thing or a low self-esteem issue, but falsely attempting to inflate your level of self-importance is evident. We get it. You think that by having a high follower count and low following count, people are going to think you’re way more important than you really are. Smooth, but that’s not how it works, especially with writers.
  5. I’m too good to follow you back – Not mutually following people. Most writers, artists, poets, creative types are generally good about following back, but there are some who, for some reason; thinking they’re too good to follow back, thinking they’ll look more popular and that many people are actually taking to heart/hanging on their every tweet (See #2), or just don’t have mutual respect for other creative types.
  6. I want to thank the academy and everyone in it – Thank every person who likes every single one of their tweets, not realizing that notifications can get clogged from all the traffic it generates unless the other people tweeting reply only to the original tweeter and then it gets annoying. Again, I get it. Thanking people is always a very polite and kind thing to do, but overdoing it can create more issues and it makes you look like you’re needy.
  7. Cause and Effect – Tweet about a cause and not about writing. If you’re going to interface with a bunch of writers, poets, artists, and other creative types, we would appreciate that you actually talk to us about those things concerning our crafts instead of blasting us with your “support my cause here”.
  8. Pay Me to Write – Personally, this is one of the most disturbing issues for me. People actually thinking that I’m going to spend the money I work hard to earn on paying you to practice your craft without getting something in return. Maybe there are people with a philanthropic heart of gold. More power to them. Most people, however, actually have a J-O-B. You know, that place you go and the thing you do to earn money for actual work. I have to admit, some people are pretty ballsy, asking total strangers to spend their hard earned money to support someone they don’t know in order for that person to pursue their “dream job” as a whatever. I’m not against helping someone when they’re down. I do it all the time. I support charitable organizations, people I know who need help and I even throw a few bucks for someone who is willing to do something for me, such as provide a service or product. You know, capitalism. However, I am NOT going to allocate money on a monthly or however often recurring basis to support someone who is not willing to work, and yes I mean a REAL JOB. If you can make money at it, without asking people for a handout, provide a service or a product, then it’s a REAL JOB. (FYI – Posting to your blog about this or that, or writing a short story for a flash fiction contest, unless someone is paying you (not donating) is not a service or a product) If you have to ask people to donate to your “Insert website name here” in order for you to pursue your whatever it is, then it’s not a real job. Provide something of value. Earn the money. I could preach on this all day, but there are going to be people who love throwing their money away. Enjoy their willingness to help your prosperity, but be careful. When that goes away and you’re left having to actually work for a living, by actually selling your books, or whatever it is you’re pursuing, you’ll realize it’s not as easy as it looks.

Eight Basic Twitterquette Suggestions for Writers/Artists/Creative Types…

  1. If a creative type/writer follows you, follow them back. It’s pretty simple and good form. People figure out quickly the ones who don’t follow back. I have unfollowed many people for not doing it.
  2. If you follow someone, don’t unfollow them after they follow you just to boost your numbers (That’s kind of a dick move). People see right through it. No, your words of wisdom are not going to impress me if you don’t have the life experience to back it up.
  3. Be generous with your comments/loves/retweets of posts, but don’t overdo it with the buy links. That gets annoying. Be constructive. Offer suggestions. Don’t insult people. The writer community is very close and people talk. If we’re not writing, we’re tweeting and to some of us, tweeting is just as important.
  4. Don’t Overpromote Your Stuff. Interact with other people directly. If all you’re doing is trying to sell something, whether it’s for you or someone else, people are going to figure that out quickly. I can look at your feed and tell within a few seconds. Most people can.
  5. If you don’t want to talk about religion/politics, then don’t, but don’t say you don’t and then blow up everyone’s feeds. I unfollow people for clogging my writer feed with politics or religion. That’s just me. It’s my writer twitter profile. I can find the politics and religion everywhere else.
  6. Don’t Tweet Excessively About a Cause – If you are going to tweet about a cause, be sensible with your posts and don’t drown people with “cause” posts. We’re writers. We appreciate a good cause as much as the next person but remember – moderation.
  7. Don’t Tweet excessive amounts of motivational quotes – They are helpful, but again, in moderation. They lose their effectiveness if you do it too often.
  8. Participate – talk to other writers/creative types. Share your stories, your blog posts, interact in the daily # events. Tell us about your life. We do care. We want to read your stories and we want to share our stuff with you. Be a part of the #writing community and you will find it to be rewarding and fun.

Souls

Millions died in an instant; the final blinding flash that consumed all of humanity in a self-inflicted Armageddon.

I remember the flash and all-encompassing heatwave and then, nothing.

We walk, all of us, across the flat, grassless plain whose surface I can’t identify, blurred by what, I’m not sure. All I know is that we are all here, all of humanity in countless droves, all marching to the same destination, but for what? I remember my life and think about my wife and children. Where are they? Are they among this horde that stretches further than my eyes can see? Why am I not feeling anything? There is no sadness, no fear, no longing for them that I know I should have, and then she approaches, a short Asian woman whom I have never seen before.

“So, how have you been?”

I’m not quite sure what to say to her as I don’t know. I recognize her, but at the same time, I do not. It is like seeing someone that reminds you of someone else, but you can’t figure out who that someone else is.

“I’m ok. Do I know you?” I ask, confused at the sudden intrusion into my journey.

“No, not really, but I have been with you all your life.”

“All my life? What am I? Dead?”

“Yes, you are, as is everyone else you see. All of you, all of humanity is now extinct,” she replies, a tear sliding down her cheek.

I can’t grasp what she is saying, and maybe because of the confused look on my face, she continues talking, not waiting for my reply.

“Look, I know it’s hard to understand, but you are dead, from a physical standpoint. What you’re seeing is what you can fathom. You are a soul, and all around you are the souls of everyone else who is dead. You’re on your final journey.”

“Final journey? Like in never going to exist again?” I ask.

“Yes, in a manner of speaking. You’ll never exist as you once were unless something changes.”

“Ok, so let me get this straight. I’m dead, physically but my soul is having a conversation with you, and I’m on my final journey unless something changes. This is a lot to take in.”

“As I said, it’s hard to understand at first. Let me try again. You’re dead. Are you good with that?”

“Good with it? I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be good with it or not. Ya know, being dead isn’t what most people consider a good situation.”

“I meant, do you get what I mean?”

“Yeah, ok. So, I’m dead. I get it. What next?”

She rubs her forehead with her fingers as if trying to remove the frustration, “Ok. You’re dead, and this is your final journey. Normally when a person dies, they make this journey alone until they arrive, but with so many people dying all at once, we couldn’t handle just letting one person walk at a time, so thus all these other souls you see. You with me so far?”

“Ok, so we’re the dead souls walking on our final journey. To where?”

“No, you’re not dead souls. Your bodies are dead, but your souls, which are very much alive, are making the final journey. As to where, well, that’s hard to describe, but for your sake, let’s call it a depot.”

“A soul depot?”

“In a manner of speaking. All souls go there for recycling and reassignment,” she replies.

“Recycling, like as in plastic bottles or newspapers? What do you? Grind up the souls, melt them down and remake more?”

“No, we don’t grind them up. We don’t melt them down, and we can’t remake them. There are a finite number of souls, and we have to reassign, yes that’s a better word, reassign them,” she adds.

“Look, I hate to be a pain, but there’s a lot I’m not understanding and the more you tell me, the more questions I have.”

“That’s normal. We do this all the time, so it’s fine to ask questions.”

“All right. So, what are you? Are you a soul?” I ask.

“Yes and no. I’m what you would call an angel,” she replies.

“Where are your wings?”

“I don’t have wings. That’s a human construct. We don’t have wings, and there are no such things as demons or the Devil. That’s a human construct too.”

“Wait. What do you mean there’s no demons or the Devil? Are you also trying to tell me there is no God, as well?”

“In a manner of speaking,” she says, “the human brain is not capable of comprehending the creator, so it was easier for you humans to create a concept of the creator, but how your brains are wired, you can’t have God without the Devil. It’s always about opposites with your species. You can’t have the good without the bad, the hot without the cold, the peace without the strife. You always need balance, so you create the opposite for your brains to understand it.”

“So, there’s no God and no Devil, but you’re an angel? How the hell does that work?”

“I am an angel in your terms, but maybe a better term would be a guardian.”

“Ok, if you’re a guardian, what are you guarding?” I ask sarcastically.

“You,” she replies.

“Me?”

“Yes, you. Do you remember all those times in this past life where you felt you shouldn’t have walked away from something, yet you did?”

“Yea, I had some close calls. What about them?”

“The reason you didn’t die when they happened was because of my intervention,” she replies.

“Who else are you guarding?”

“No one else. Only you. We’re assigned one soul to guard. For some guardians, it’s easy, but for others, like me, the soul is always a challenge, which is why I’m talking to you now,” she replies, “I had to finally meet you in person, so to speak. You led an interesting life; not boring, and you always kept me on my toes. I almost lost you a few times there, but as fortune would have it, I was able to pull it off,” she replies, blowing on her fingertips and rubbing them on her chest.

“So, I’m alive, or rather, was alive, lived, hell I don’t know what to say, then because of you?”

“Yes, if you want to put it that way. You were alive or lived because of me saving you from you or more from your, what I would call careless behavior. You called it thrill-seeking, having a good time, finding the rush, enjoying the high, among other things, but yeah, you were a challenge.”

“I guess I should be thanking you then?”

“No, thanks are not necessary. It was quite my pleasure to have your soul to guard. I guarded your soul for over what you could call, five lifetimes, and it never gets boring.”

“Five lifetimes? I only remember one, and I don’t remember it that well now,” I reply.

“And you won’t. The longer you’re out of your body, the less you remember. All the souls were created that way. It’s easier to process and not confusing when you go to your new body.”

“So, you’ve watched over my soul for five lifetimes. How many have I had?”

“I’m not sure, but I believe it’s a few hundred. Your last guardian was reassigned and don’t ask. I don’t know why and then I was assigned to you.”

“How many souls have you guarded?”

“Yours is my first, and I’m happy to have had you to guard. It was a lot more challenging than they said it would be, and honestly, I’m not supposed to be here now, but if I don’t take this opportunity to meet you, I may not get to for many lifetimes. You know, protocol and such.”

“No, I don’t know. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole one soul, many lifetimes, no God, no Devil, no Angels, thing.”

“Right. I get it. It was hard for me at first, too.”

“You? What? Were you a soul?”

“I still am, but I was like you once. Living, dying, making the journey, getting recycled, and doing it all over again.”

“For how long?”

“I had over 1000 lifetimes before they chose me to be a guardian.”

“Wouldn’t you rather be alive?”

“Not really. After you’ve lived that many times, you start to remember a little more each time and although it’s not much, recycling the soul that many times, the memories build up and make the life for the body and brain a living hell, not to coin a phrase.”

“So, where am I? Is this heaven? Space? Another dimension? Where?”

“Let’s call this another dimension because if I try to tell you exactly how this works, it would just confuse you even more. It took me a long time to grasp, so let’s leave it at that.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I wonder if this is a dream from which I will awake, but I can’t seem to grasp any other train of thought. It has to be real. I have a few memories of my life. I can remember vague details, but the more time passes, if that is a valid measurement, the less I remember, and it makes me sad. Sad to know the memories that were once so important to me are now non-existent. I try to force myself to remember, but like grains of sand between my fingers, the memories slide, evading my mental grasp and even my sadness begins to fade. What I don’t understand is that I still have my conscience, my morals, my beliefs, but I can’t understand why.

Her voice derails my train of thought, “I know you’re having a hard time with this, but it will get easier. I want you to know that you are one of the good souls out there. You’ve always done the right thing, and well, I’m proud of your soul. Not all souls are good, and from there is where you get the bad people. The bad seeds as many of humanity would say.”

“If you can’t remember anything from your life, how can a soul be good or bad?”

“It’s how there are formed and what happens during their very first lifetime. If they have a bad life or do evil things, it will permanently stain their soul. Some are lucky, and that residue won’t remain during recycling, but others, not so much. The more they are stained with malevolence, the harder it is to cleanse, and the more lifetimes they have, the worse it gets, which is why you had more murderers, serial killers, and just bad people during your lifetime. Therefore, humanity is now extinct.”

“Why don’t you destroy the bad souls? Wouldn’t that be easier?”

“I don’t know. We have never destroyed any souls nor created new ones. The souls are the souls. No more, no less, and that’s what we do.”

“So, you’re telling me that humanity is never going to exist again? What happens to all the souls then?”

“Not in that timeline they won’t. That timeline is dead for the creator. Not the first time, and definitely not the last, but it’s over. I quite enjoyed it, and it saddens me a little that it is, but on to the next one.”

“Next one? Another timeline? How does that work?”

“Yes, another, and probably another after that,” she replies.

“How many timelines?”

“There is an infinite number of simultaneous timelines. Some go on, and some cease to exist like yours. Some are destroyed, while some are saved. It all depends on the creator’s mood. If the creator doesn’t like how things are going in a timeline, then the timeline will be destroyed, and another one created. It’s simple actually, but the mechanics are way beyond what I could help you to understand. You’re just not wired for it.

“Will I go back as a human? I’m not going to be a dog or a bug, am I?”

“No, human souls are for humans. Animal souls are for animals.”

“Animal souls? They have souls? Really?”

“Yes, animal souls are the same as humans, but more developed. They don’t know malevolence or hate, which is why the creator put them in animals, to help humans.”

“Ok, I think I get it. All of my animals were kind and loving. Not a mean bone in their bodies.”

“Exactly, but it’s quite the opposite. They weren’t your animals; you were their humans, assigned to you to help you along your path. Some people didn’t need animals, but considering how many you had, I would say you needed a lot of help,” she says, smiling.

“But?” I stammer.

“Didn’t you ever wonder why certain animals were attracted to you? Why you had so many strays that seemed to need your help? Aren’t you curious as to why you always wanted to help those animals?” she asks.

“Yeah, kinda, but I never really questioned it too deeply. They needed my help, and I just couldn’t let them stay on the street or in the shelters.”

“Exactly. They needed you, and you needed them. A type of symbiotic relationship that helped both of you. Humans, in general, are horrible when it comes to caring for animals. Many are viewed as food, some as pets, and most just disregarded. Humans are generally too selfish to care for others than themselves.”

It is starting to make sense to me, but I know there is a lot I don’t know or understand.

“So, let me see if I’m getting this. Humans need animals around because the animals help the humans to be better. Am I right so far?”

“Yes, keep going,” she says, now grinning at my change in awareness.

“So, if the humans that have animals, rather animals that have humans, the humans end up being more developed, their souls are less stained, and live a better life?”

“Mostly. There are some humans that no amount of animal care can improve. Some human souls are just so stained that they taint the animal souls that come in contact with them, ruining both. Which is why sometimes there would be mean animals.”

“Ok, I get the animal thing, I think. What about now? What’s going to happen to this soul?” I ask, pointing at myself.

“I’m not quite sure yet. It will be decided at the processing center when we arrive. It’s not that long of a journey so you won’t have to wait too long until we arrive.”

I have so many thoughts floating around inside my head, or what I think is my head. I’m not even sure of my existence at this point. I know or at best, believe I am a soul. Am I hallucinating or dreaming all of this? Will I wake up from a dream and realize that all of this is a lie?

As we trudge along, I glance up and down the ranks of souls that walk beside and behind me. I can’t recognize faces as there are none. No corporeal forms, but blobs of what appear to be some gaseous forms with a humanoid shape. Is this what our essence looks like? Are our physical bodies just vessels used to transport these forms for only a short period?

“In answer to your questions,” I hear her speak.

I hadn’t said anything aloud, that I could tell. “I didn’t say anything.”

“No, you didn’t, but you don’t have to. Remember, I’m your guardian, and I know your thoughts and your essence. How do you think we’ve been communicating? We aren’t talking as you once knew it. It’s all about energy flow back and forth. Thoughts are energy, and I happen to be tuned to receive yours.”

“You mean like an antenna? Am I a transmitter?” I ask.

“In basic terms, yes. You are, and I’m a receiver,” she replies.

“Why can’t I hear…receive what you’re thinking?”

“You’re not tuned to me like I am to you. The only time I could say anything to you or communicate with you in your physical form was in your dreams when you were susceptible to my transmissions, and that’s only in brief little bursts, inserting a thought here, or an idea there. It took quite a bit of my energy even to do that. It was enough to keep you out of most troubles, but sometimes, even I couldn’t override your conscious state with my suggestions. A drawback of being a guardian.”

“How is it that I can receive what you are sending now?”

“Because of where we are and the state you are in. When you are without body, you are free to communicate with your guardian. It makes the transition easier.”

“Why can’t I communicate with other souls?”

“Oh no, we couldn’t have that. Each soul is unique and is not supposed to intermingle with other souls. It would upset the balance and create all kinds of havoc in the new body.”

“How so?” I ask.

“Well, when souls intermingle, there is a transference of energy, similar to what we’re doing now, and that energy is carried forward into the new life.”

“Why is that bad?”

“Have you ever heard of soul mates?”

“Of course, I have, I had one.”

“Well then, you know when you met that person you just seemed to connect. That was because somewhere along your timeline during the time between lives, your souls’ energies intermingled, and you took a piece of that other soul with you, so when you encountered each other in your human bodies, the energies recognized one another, and you felt that connection.”

“This is so bizarre. So, the whole soul mate thing doesn’t happen between bodies. It happens because of the souls being interconnected?”

“Yes. That’s right. If we allow that to happen all the time, people would have some serious connection issues when you’re in your bodies, and you would feel that connection with more people and the human brain is not equipped to handle so much conflict, so we try to limit soul-to-soul contact. Of course, we can’t stop it from happening, which is why most humans only find one soulmate in their lifetime, if they even find one at all.”

We continue our journey, and I begin to notice that some of the shapes dart forward and disappear. The more I stare, the more discernable the shapes become. What had appeared to be only gaseous blobs, now become shapes with distinctive marks. I don’t have to ask.

“What you’re seeing is called the transformation. It’s when the souls get close to the processing center; they begin to take on the form that is identifiable to the creator, just like your human body, the soul has a unique shape, for lack of a better term. The other forms you see darting back and forth are those of the guardians of other souls and the overseers. The overseers are basically the guardians of the guardians, making sure we’re doing our job, although there isn’t a strict job description. Every once in a while, something will go wrong, even here, and the overseers always seem to be able to set things right before they get out of control.”

“Why can’t the creator do everything? I mean, it’s like a God or something, isn’t it?”

“Yes, and no. Remember that thing called free will?”

“Yeah, didn’t seem so free.”

“You used it more often than you know. Every decision was based on free will, yet you just chose to follow most of the rules set out before you, making it easier for you. That is free will, choosing to follow the rules and guidelines or choosing not to. True free will without rules or guidelines creates chaos, and you wouldn’t like the results if everyone just did everything without rules.”

I think about it and realize she has a point. She. I’m not even sure she is a she. All I know is what I recognize or can process. What she wants me to see. Maybe I am going crazy and am locked away in some looney bin somewhere with some orderly pumping me full of drugs to keep me in a non-crazy state. I don’t know anymore.

“No, you’re not crazy, and you’re not locked in a looney bin. I appear in this form as it’s what I choose, and it seems to work with your energy. This is hard enough for me to explain without you freaking out and not being able to comprehend what is happening. I’m not supposed to be having this much communication with you, but it’s highly unlikely they will send me for recycling, so whatever happens, happens.”

“You won’t get in trouble?”

“Trouble is relative. I might receive further instruction on how to care for souls, but there isn’t any discipline or punishment. There aren’t any commendations for a job well done either. We do what we do. Guard your souls and process you for the next life. If I screw up, not sure how I could do that, but let’s say I did. The worst that will happen is that I cease to exist.”

“Isn’t that bad?”

“No, actually it’s not. When you don’t exist, you don’t know it, so it’s not a loss, and the souls you communicate with and watch over don’t remember; there are no lost memories, no loved ones, no one to remember you, so it’s not bad at all.”

“Seem kinda pointless to exist then. If you’re going to cease to exist, what is the point of doing this?”

“It is our purpose. We guard souls, just like you live lives. Just like animals watch over the humans, and the creator manages the timelines. We all have a purpose, and that’s what keeps us going. If I believed there was no purpose, I would cease to exist. The purpose is what keeps us alive, as you call it.”

“I don’t even know what my purpose is.”

“That is not uncommon. Most humans do not. When you finally realize what your purpose is, which may take 1000 lifetimes or more, then you will become a guardian to help other souls find their purpose.”

“That seems like such a long time to find your purpose. A thousand lifetimes.”

“Time here is relative. What may seem like a long time to you in your physical form is only but an instant or a day, to put it in perspective for you. We live without the restrictions of time, which is why we can move back and forth in your physical timeline.”

“So, if that’s the case, how do you know you live a thousand lifetimes before you found your purpose?”

“My guardian told me. She was the one who made me a guardian for you.”

“Was she my guardian?” I ask.

“No, that was another guardian who was reassigned. I don’t know the details, and am not supposed to, plus, it doesn’t matter.”

“So, is your guardian still around?”

“I don’t know. I do not have a memory of her other than that event. It’s how it works around here. She may be a guardian for another soul. She may be an overseer, or she may not exist anymore.”

“Doesn’t that make you sad?”

“I don’t have emotions, either way. Those are human ideas and don’t apply to me.”

“But you once did.”

“Yes, and I feed off your emotions. I can feel how your happiness, your sadness, your anger, affect you. Even your hatred, which is an ugly emotion, by the way. You should work on that.”

“I tried not to hate, but some people made it hard.”

“I know, and I could feel the conflict in you. I won’t say you weren’t justified, but I could understand why you did. As guardians, we try to influence the hate out of people subtly, but most of the time, if it’s strong enough, we’re pretty much useless, so we have to suffer through it.”

“Did I make it that hard for you?”

“At times, yes. Other times, thankfully for the animals, your hatred lessened to a manageable level.”

We approach what looks like a large spinning silver disk. As the souls get close, they are getting sucked in, like mosquitoes into a big fan. I wonder if I will feel anything.

“It’s going to be painless, from your perspective. As you have no solid form, you’ll just be sucked inside, and once we’re there, I’ll escort you to your destination.”

She’s right. There is no sensation. One second, we are on the plain and the next we are in what appears to be a big holding area, larger than any space I have ever seen. The rest of the souls now have definable shapes and markings, none of which I can make sense.

“You’re curious about the markings, I see.”

I am getting a little wigged out with her reading my thoughts, and before I can say anything, she speaks.

“You’ll get used to it, or you may not, but it won’t be for too long,” she replies, unprompted, “and about the markings. You won’t understand them, but to simplify it, they’re like barcodes for the souls. The creator knows them all, but the guardians can only recognize the soul for which they are responsible. The overseers can recognize the markings of all the souls under their respective guardians. I’ve never seen this number of souls at the same time.”

She disappears.

I don’t know how long I wait. It could be ten minutes, or it could be ten years. I have no reference point to determine how much time elapses, but it doesn’t seem long before she reappears.

“I’m back, and it’s time to go,” she says, motioning me in her direction.

“Where are we going?”

“I guess it’s your lucky day. Another timeline exists, same as the one you were in, with only slight differences.”

“Am I going to know the difference?”

“No, just like you won’t know anything about this once you’re back.”

“When do I go back? Can’t I stay a little longer, so we can talk?”

“We can’t keep you here. We’re on a tight schedule, especially with your human mass extinction event. We have a lot of souls to process before the timelines get too out of whack. If it’s any consolation, you’ll never have to remember what you’ve forgotten about your past.”

That is not comforting. Nothing is at this point. I don’t feel any angst nor happiness. I don’t feel any emotion, which is probably part of the process. I don’t remember my old life, and the prospect of a new life doesn’t seem to excite me either. There is nothing.

She must sense this, “I liked you much better when you had your emotions and memories.”

“I wish I could say I’m sorry, but I do not even know how to feel anything at the moment.”

“It will come back to you in your new life. I promise, but it is time to go.”

With no sense of time, I prepare myself for the next step of my journey.

She whisks me away down a long corridor, the length I cannot fathom. We arrive in a room, occupied by five other shapes, indiscernible to me, yet she reacts to their presence. I can sense her energy flow, but it isn’t directed at me, and then she turns.

“I don’t know how to put this, and I’m not sure if it’s going to have any meaning or not, but you are being sent back to your old timeline, along with many others to try and stop what happened.”

I can’t remember, and I stare blankly, “Ok. As you wish.” I want to know what she means, and I try to remember, but no memories exist. It is a clean slate. She told me this would happen.

A frown crosses her face, the first sign of emotion besides the smile I had seen earlier. She places the palm of what I think is her hand against where my head should be and whispers, “I need you to remember.”

I feel enveloped in a force that erupts from the outside and forces its way into my soul, burning and burrowing into every crevice of the essence I know as me. I feel the pain, the love, the joy, the hate, the misery of my lifetime, all flooding back in at once, and I temporarily lose all focus on everything.

I look around and see all of them, floating in front of me, their angelic appearance almost too much for me to comprehend. I remember it all, my birth, my life, my family, and my death and am overwhelmed. “Why?” I scream, the pain and tears erupting from within, almost too much for me to bear.

“You must go back. You must make a choice. Tell us the time. Tell us the age,” they keep repeating. I can’t focus and beg them to take it away.

“Make the choice!” she shouts.

I find one memory. One that is of a time when I was happiest. I choose, and the pain fades.

I look up at my mother staring down at me with the most beautiful smile in the world.

“Happy Birthday, Son.”

I smile. I am now five-years-old. I am a big boy.

I hear the distant voice in my head, “You must remember.”

Copyright © 2018 Nathaniel Kaine

 

Back in the Saddle

Hello Everyone,

I’m back! I know it’s been a while, but sometimes life just kicks you in the butt. Over the past six months, a lot of things have happened on the personal front which really threw me for a loop, but it’s all getting better now!

Good news for you guys, I’ve hired an editor! She’s awesome as a person and is an amazing editor.  I can’t say enough good things about her, but I’m being a little selfish right now because I know just how good she is, so I’m not going to give out too many details.

I am very excited about what she’s doing with my Average Joe Series – Volume One – John Hunter – The Veteran. We’re making great progress on the edits for Volume One and should be done by the end of May.  She’s just as excited about the entire series as I am, and is on board for doing Volume Two – John Hunter – The Operator, and Volume Three – John Hunter – The Russians.  We have a lot of work cut out for us, but can’t say it enough just how much we appreciate all the support we’ve received from everyone.

With the rough draft of Volume two finished, we’re doing the preliminary edits and once we’ve finished that stage, my Beta Readers will get a chance to read it and provide their feedback. If you want to be on that list and are not yet, you can find the sign-up form here

If you’ve already signed up for my email list, you will be getting access to my short story The Park Ranger as well.

Thanks again from a very grateful author,

Sincerely and with lots of love,

Nathaniel Kaine

 

Writers: Stop Beating Yourself Up

How many of you have been on a writing binge and cranked out tens of thousands of words, only to find yourself drained at the end of it?  It happens.  I am blessed, as I know some of you are, to have days, if not weeks of creative energy where I can crank out sentence after sentence, page after page, and then when it’s all said and done, look back and have a sense of fulfillment.  I have also had days without end where there isn’t a drop of creative juice in my body and I can stare at a screen and even forced, cannot convey the simplest of ideas.  I believe all writers experience this, no matter how good you are, no matter how many books you’ve written, or how much experience in this profession you have.  We are not automatons.  We are people with real-world issues affecting us.

From a personal perspective, during the months of May and June I put over 200,000 words to paper, and since then I may have written 10,000 words total and guess what happened during that time? Life.  It happens to all of us.

I have been editing my first novel, writing short stories, and have dabbled in other little writing projects, but I haven’t been writing to the level that I had planned.  

Guess what? It’s okay. Life happens.  

You wanted to write five thousand words, and you only wrote three thousand.  Guess what?  It’s ok.  Life happens.

You wanted to finish editing your novel and you didn’t.  Guess what? It’s ok.  Life happens.

Don’t let those things you don’t finish hold you back.  Life is happening around you.

Don’t forget to be a part of it.

Be Real About What You Want

Do you have a burning desire to complete something just to complete it, or are you taking the time to craft your story, your masterpiece, regardless of how many you create, to the standards you desire?

I often read about writers who are so consumed about meeting their writing goals of x number of words per day.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love goals.  Setting goals is great for keeping us focused and for completing those things that important to us.  Goals, unrealistically set, taking into account the number of responsibilities many of us have, can also be a bane, a detriment to our productivity.  If we don’t realistically set our goals, with our priorities in mind, it can lead to losing focus, diminished capacity for creativity, and lack of completion because we are so obsessed with the goal that we often forget why we are setting that goal.  

As writers, we often get disappointed in ourselves with what we don’t do, and are often not proud enough of ourselves for what we actually accomplish.  Many of us don’t make a living from writing, but there are a lucky few who do and to those, I tip my hat. Job well done!

For the rest of us not yet fortunate, if that is our goal, to have the opportunity to make a living from writing, we have many other things in our life, such as a different full-time job, school, family, or other responsibilities that we have made a greater priority.  We handle our responsibilities because that’s what we’re supposed to do.  We need to remember not to be too hard on ourselves for not writing as much as we’d like while handling all of the issues that life throws at us.  

I know that I will be more productive when I set aside the time to write more and I’m not going to beat myself up for it.  I don’t have any writing “deadlines” that are earth shattering if I don’t meet them.  Yes, I want to complete the editing of my first novel by the end of the year, but if life’s events prevent me from doing so, then so be it.  I’ll make adjustments and complete it when I can and I refuse to feel bad about it.  

Like many writers, writing is my escape.  It is where I go to find solace and peace.  I am not going to corrupt that with unnecessary pressures to complete something because of a “deadline”.  I am completing what I can complete because of the love I have for this art.  I see writers are frequently rushed to complete something as if their life depends on it.  I can understand why deadlines are important for people who make their living from writing, but for those of us who don’t, what is the rush?  Set your goal but don’t ever forget why you’re doing this in the first place.

We Write Because We Love To Write

When you love to write and you are setting a goal for yourself, do it realistically.  If writing on Tuesdays is always a problem because of work, school, or any other factor, then don’t set yourself up for failure by planning to write on Tuesday.  You’re just going to hurt yourself in the long run by setting yourself up for failure.  

Every Word Counts

Whether you write 100 words a day or 10,000 words a day, you are still pursuing your dream and you should be proud of yourself for that alone.  I know that any words I write toward the end goal are a success, and if I don’t write the exact number of words I aspire to write, it is not a failure on my part.  This is an acceptance of living in the real world and dealing with real-world issues.  Writing is one of them, however, if I don’t write, the world is not going to end.  

Think About Real-World Concerns

If I don’t go to my job, there will be repercussions.  If I don’t finish school work, there will be repercussions.  If I don’t pay attention to my family, there will be repercussions.  If I don’t write, then my document will remain unfinished until I finish it.  That’s all that will happen and I refuse to succumb to pressures I would generate for myself by not writing the x amount of words per day.  I will write when I can as I can and expect no issues from anyone on it, especially myself.

Live. Write. Enjoy.