Thursday, March 29, 2012

What's New?

What have you written today?


What have you read today?


What words of encouragement, critique or knowledge have you given today?


What new ideas are swirling around in your head?


And you call yourself a writer!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lucky Seven Meme

My fellow author friend Ardyth DeBruyn tagged me with this and when I looked at it, it looked like fun, so I thought I’d do it.  

Go to p. 77 of current WIP
go to line 7
copy down next 7 or so lines/sentences & post them as they’re written
Tag 7 other authors
Let them know

My 7 author friends are:

WIP: Hunter & Chase (Working Title)

“Dead is dead, and they’re no longer anything at all.”  Hunter shrugged.  “Once you’re dead, you no longer matter.  The world goes on without you.”
With a huff, Chase turned away from Hunter and stacked all the weapons and armor they accumulated at the tournament in a neat pile. “Not if you loved someone.  Then that person lives forever in your heart, even after they’re gone.”
“Then I don’t see why you’re all bothered about an aunt that died a long time ago that we neither knew nor loved.”  Hunter knelt down and rubbed to two pieces of wood together to build a fire.  “Sometimes you really concern me with your philosophies. I don’t think you’re always in touch with reality.”


Brain Blitz

Have you ever had those nights where your brain just wouldn’t shut off?  No matter how tired you find your body, your thoughts toss, tumble and twist through your subconscious, along with your conscious body, contorting your dreams, until the sun comes up the next morning?  Then, exhaustion grabs hold of you throughout the day, you find yourself sluggish, irritable and unproductive?  Well, I HATE those days.  Even the most mundane of tasks are difficult to complete.

I love an active brain.  I get extremely excited when thoughts, ideas and new concepts flutter through my intellect.  It makes me feel like Indiana Jones on a new adventure; my soul thirsts for fresh knowledge and hungers for innovative treasures.    Most of all, I love being productive, even if it’s just finishing a small task.  At least it’s been completed and I’m one step closer to another goal.  BUT, being unproductive is the thing I hate most in this world. 

I haven’t found a ‘cure’ yet for when I have a brain blitz.  I’ve tried praying, exercising, drinking warm milk, take a sleeping aid, having white noise in the background, reading (which is the worse, especially if the story is interesting), taking a hot bath, and even taking cold medicine (which is not advisable). I’d love to hear your suggestions.  What has worked for you?

Till next time,
~Desperately Seeking Sound Sleep

Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Write the Perfect Novel

How can anyone write the perfect novel when writers and readers are both imperfect, fallible human beings, having subjective opinions?  As Abraham Lincoln says, “You can fool (please) some of the people, some of the time, but you can’t fool (please) all the people all the time.”  However, I think there is somewhat of an answer – if an author gives their full passion and writes the real story hidden in their hearts, not the one they think will please their peers, then they will have written the perfect novel – for them. 

I’ve read many novels over the years that I could tell instantly were written in the ‘market formula’ and designed for a specific target, and hitting all the high points in order to make a financial investment.  The writing community calls these ‘commercialized’ novels.  While they have a plot, and hit the sensationalized points of a story, they too often miss the ‘heart’ of the story, lacking depth of character or true intimacy.  There’s nothing wrong writing this way, this is how many writers earn a paycheck, but I personally think it robs not only the reader of a great story, but the writer of the pride of truly sharing the true gifts given to them. 

It doesn’t take much intelligence or skill to write sensationalism.   Just about anything these days are open for discussion, no matter how objective, subjective, offensive, or taboo they may be.  Pushing the boundaries is often what sells the best.  The more rude, crude and plain out hateful, controversial and offensive someone can write - the more sales they make.  But, what have such writers really done?  They’ve prostituted their gift for a price.  They have their reward.  It’s not only what is written on the page that makes the story, but it must be combined with the heart and purpose behind it.  If there is no heart or purpose, it’s just meaningless words – vanity; a chasing after the wind. 

As you sit at your keyboard, notepad or typewriter today and the story begins to flow, ask yourself how much of you are you putting into this story?  Is this story the best you can offer?  Are you making yourself vulnerable to your gift?  Are you writing the story in your heart, or are you editing for commercial sake?  Does this story make you happy, or are you concerned if it will make someone else happy?  If your novel isn’t perfect for you – it won’t be perfect for anyone else.  It’s your name on it, not theirs. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Friday, March 23, 2012

Little by Little

Some days or events are more productive than other days or events, yet the last thing we need to do is measure our failure or success on the performance of any given day or event.  We’d be all over the scale if we did.  There are days and events when really BIG things happen, and then there are days and events when hardly ANYTHING happens.  But neither means the day or event has been successful or unsuccessful.  It’s often in those hardly anything moments where I plant the seeds that are harvested in those really big moments.  Both are equally important, and our eyes being set on the bigger picture is also just as important.

I’m currently on a book tour.  It’s not as elaborate of a tour as I’d like to have, where I travel all over the world and meet new readers across the globe, jet-setting from one city to the next.  I’d LOVE to feel bad at being in such demand that I CAN’T reach every city.  However, the camp I’m currently in can only afford to branch out as far as $4/gallon of gas will get me, which isn’t very far at all.  Importantly, I don’t gauge the success of my author appearances based on the number of books I’ve sold or how many people show up to the event.  Often times I’ve made the best contacts on appearances when there were only a few people, giving me more time to network and express ideas, which have led to other opportunities.  But, it is nice to have a large crowd and sell a lot of books.  These appearances are really some of the few opportunities writers get to receive praise and appreciation, along with some compensation, for all their hard work.  Most of their time is spent in isolation with their imaginations.  Social media is helping with easing a bit of that isolation on one hand, yet at the same time creating more on the other, but that’s a different topic for another day.

I’ve learned that I can’t wait on big moments to move.  I’ve found that if I take a step every day, if I move little by little, then I move closer and closer toward my dream.  I can look behind me and see I’ve traveled quite far.  I can look ahead of me and see I’m closer to my goal.  THAT is worth celebrating.  THAT is what I consider success.  I may not be moving faster than a speeding bullet, but I am moving in the right direction. 

So, celebrate your successes today, all of them – both big and small.  Don’t worry about when the next big moment will come, just enjoy it when it does.  Don’t fret over those small unseemly moments, because they’re bigger than you think. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Would Your Memoir Say?

Anytime we write anything, we have to first determine who our audience would be.  Knowing to whom you write, determines how and what we write.  I’ve read many memoirs over the past few years, and can see a difference quite easily of what audience the author wanted for their memories.  There were a few different types of memoirs I discovered.  More may exist, but these are the ones I noticed most.

1.    The General Audience – This is when the author focuses mainly on their accomplishments and the road of their life experience that brought them to that point of success. It’s quite the ‘brag’ memoir. Most celebrities are found here.
2.    The Professional Audience – This is when the author wants to impress the elite of their field by way of showing their own discoveries, talents and achievements with their professional ability. In my case it would be writing.
3.    The Specific Audience – This is when the author focuses mainly on their peers (those with the same interests), and the road of life experiences that brought them to that specific point of view, be it political, social or religious ideology. 
4.    The Intimate Audience – This is when the author focuses mainly on those they are relation with, and hope to spread understanding and enlightenment to those intimate relations, revealing the purposes behind many of their choices, and through the example of their life experiences, show how they arrived to the point of view they carry.

I’ve been asked to write a memoir for someone else, someone of prominent standing in the world, and was excited about the project, which was being written for a general, professional and specific audience.  However, I recently discovered what I truly desired was for this memoir to have been for an intimate audience. I didn’t want to showcase this person and all of their success in the world.  I wanted to tell a story that spoke of bravery, growing pains, making mistakes and learning from them, and ultimately humanizing this person – pulling them off their public platform and showing them for the frail human they were; not for them, or those in their professional community, but for their family, especially their grown children.

You might ask yourself why I would have wanted to do that for this person.  The simple answer is: Because I wanted the same for myself.  I have two daughters and a son who are all young adults now.  They are making their way through this world as best they know how.  Sometimes they make good decisions and sometimes bad, just like everyone else.  They’re old enough now that our relationship needs to change, moving from me being their over-bearing, protective Mama Bear, to becoming their Rock of Safety and Acceptance.  No matter how much we try to deny it, we all strive for the acceptance of our parents, even if we hate and despise them.  The only way I can become beneficial for them, is to change the way they see me.  I will always be their mother, and they will always love me for that – even if they’re angry with me.  However, if I’m to be of any value to them as an adult, they need to see me as an individual, someone who’s lived a life just as they’re living now, someone who has made mistakes and learned to get back up, someone who has had fears of their own and learned to face them.  I need them to see me as a person of my own, not just their mother.  I need to become human to them.  I was once a little girl with hopes and fears; a teenager with angst and dreams; a young woman trying to make her way in this world the best I knew how, and then a mother, a woman of a professional career, and now a woman chasing her dreams.   If my young adult children can see that I’m just as fallible, scared, weak, strong, determined, and capable of failure as I strive for success, then that is a good thing.  Not that they can see they are either better or worse than me, but that we both stand on common ground in this world – as equals.  I’m not their judge, jury and executioner in their quest to become independent adults.  I can let go of the reins I’ve had to use in raising them (pulling them up, pushing them on, pulling them back), but I’d want them to know they don’t have to walk alone.  THAT would be the memoir I’d write. 

What about you? Who would you write your memoir for?  What would your memoir say and why?

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I’m sure you’ve all heard the cliché, “Those who can’t … teach.”  In the same spirit of that saying, I’ve also discovered two more, “Those who aren’t doing anything themselves … like to direct everybody else,” and “Those who choose to sit at the head of the table … often deserve the end.”

Please don’t misunderstand.  Writers (or anyone else in their field) who take pride in their hard work and accomplishments, and walk in confidence of their abilities, are quite different than those who pat themselves on the back for even their lack-luster efforts.  Bragging about your work and being excited about your undertakings, is something everyone should do.  How can someone expect others to get enthusiastic about their work if they don’t themselves? But puffing your own esteem, and representing yourself in a false manner (higher and more qualified than you really are), is out-right deception and arrogance. 

Let me give an example:  Mary Jane Doe has always dreamed of being a famous writer, and has written many stories over her long life, but being too afraid to pursue her passion, and finding such a saturated market of published books and stringent submission guidelines, she never bothered to submit them for review or representation for publication.  She never laid them out where they might be rejected or subjected to criticism.  Mary Jane spent the majority of her life placing her writing last in her priorities, as a mere hobby (something to do in her spare time – with no expectations of success or failure). 

After many years of missing the ‘big break’ (if she never submitted, how did she expect the opportunities to come to her?), she decided to self-publish and skip the whole possibility of rejection or bad review all together.  Once her book was printed, she shared it with a few close friends and peers, all full of gushes and accolades. (While friends and family are great for support, their reviews and edits are biased.)  

Suddenly, Mary Jane considered herself an expert in the field of writing, and began instructing and critiquing others in their own writing dreams, freely offering her opinion on their manuscripts (something she was too afraid to face herself).   Yet, this whole time, Mary Jane thought it was beneath her to go out and promote, sell, or market her book to public readers.   She saw no reason to put her excellent work out where it might not receive its due praise.  However, she herself was fully convinced it was the best work to hit the presses she’d ever read, so much so, she nominated it for every award she could find. She didn’t see the difference of being nominated and nominating herself.

While I admired Mary Jane and the belief in herself and abilities, I also pitied her.  No matter how many books she's written or awards she's received, she cheated herself and will one day find herself humbled in her arrogance.  I pray every day I don’t fall to the same arrogance of pride (it’s so easy to do), because I’d rather be great and sit at the end of the table, than be empty and sit at the head.  I don’t want people to listen to me to praise my success or greatness, but so they can be inspired to reach their own.

So, as you make your way through the wonderful world of writing and publishing, keep your eyes open – not on what your peers (other writers) are saying with their mouths – because their mouths can and often lie – but keep watch on their actions and measure their results.  Don’t follow someone who is constantly talking, but isn’t really doing anything.  Don’t listen to self-praise, judge their work for yourself, and then trust your own opinion.  I hate when someone gives someone else power over their opinions.  Own it!  It’s good to follow those who lead by example, because you can clearly see the results they receive, and thereby the results you can hope for yourself.  But, if the one speaking doesn’t have any results – why do you follow them?  I’ll leave you with one more cliché, “Don’t follow a blind man, or you’ll both end up in a ditch.” (Matt 15:14)
Till next time,
~T.L. Gray