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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Read only the kind of books that wound or stab us

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? ... We need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” 
Franz Kafka

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to fight back against verbal abuse (for the timid)

Have we all been affected by bullies?  I think so.  I think that everyone in their life (even if they don't want to admit it) has come across someone that has bullied them, hated on them, and been overall rude overbearing and mean.  Bullies aren't always how they portrey them in the movies and sometimes I'm horrified to see that kids shows are teaching that it's okay to bully the bullies.  Often they are in positions of power, or at least, have a small amount of power that they constantly use to push others around.
I remember when I was a teenager, my 2nd job was to be a cashier at Little Caesars.  The owner constantly yelled at us, berating us for anything we did wrong, or whatever took his fancy.  I put up with it and worked there for the summer.  My friend got a job there and quit after a week because of his treatment.  I really admired her for not putting up with him, and yet, I couldn't do the same thing for myself.

There have definitely been bullies in my life that have had a permanent effect on my life.  In fact, I've even named the jerk in my book after one of them even though it's been years since I've even seen him.  It's my way of getting back at him because so many other people will hate him as much as I do.
(insert evil laugh)

I LOVE being in my 30ies.  Why? you may ask.  It's because in this age I've (finally) truly learned to accept myself and not give a damn about what "bullies" think of me.  I could care less if they don't like how I dress, talk, act....you know, whatever.
I'm not saying that I don't care what others think of me, just what the bullies think of me.

How to deal with bullies?  That's the question of the century.  The word has become the hot word--"We don't believe in bullies!"-- and is on every school plaque these days.  So, I want to talk about this.

What is a bully?
How do we deal with them if we're too shy to stand up for ourselves?


First of all, anyone can be a bully.  

If you intimidate anyone, in any way, you can be a bully.  Even if you don't mean it, even if you don't realize you're doing it, and even if it's just a misunderstanding, someone might consider you a bully.  For instance, at church my daughter is in a class with an autistic boy.  Now, if you listen to the way he says things sometimes, he thinks that my daughter is mean to him sometimes.  Her side of the story is that she is defending her friends from him.  (She's a very loyal friend)  But the way he sees it, from his perspective, she's the bully.
How are we bullies to those around us?  Are we intimidating someone, even if we don't mean to bully them?


Okay, and then the question, how do we deal with bullies if you're too timid to stand up for yourself? 


 Sometimes people know that they are intimidating you and they plain just don't care.
The easiest answer to that, is #1, to stop hanging around them.
Now, I am absolutely aware that this isn't always possible.  We may work with them, or work for them.  They may be our mothers or our fathers or our sibling.  Lots of scenarios here.
But, if you can, if you realize that you're hanging out with someone who intimidates you, hurts you intentionally, belittles you, berates you, then try to distance yourself from them.  Stop hanging out with them as often and find other friends who treat you with respect.  Start out by saying no just once, and you'll find it liberating.

So, what if we can't ignore these people?  If this were a movie, I would tell you to stand up to them and then they'll earn your respect.  But this is not a movie.  If you are an adult (I teach my kids to punch any kid who physically and relentlessly bullies them.  I don't care if they're expelled.) and can't punch your boss then what can you do?

Well, first you can write a book and name your most hated character their name.

And second, you can take away their power.  How do you do that?  By not caring what they think.   And realizing that their bark is worse than their bite. (unless it's not.  and if you know this then you need to get help.  if someone is an adult and physically hurting you, get help.) This may be very very hard to do.  Or maybe you think that this is too simple.  But I promise you, it works.

So, first, how to not care what they think?  Every single time they do or say something to you, in your head, you say the opposite.   But a million times.  Every. single. time.  The power of a positive thought is a gazillion times stronger than a negative thought.  They say, "You're so stupid."  In your head, you'll think "I'm very smart.  In fact, the other day I did something very smart which was... See?  I'm incredible.  And incredibly smart."  I don't care if you believe yourself or not.  If you feel like you're lying to yourself, that's okay.  In fact, it's perfectly reasonable.  You are hanging around someone who says that you're stupid, so of course you are going to think that you're stupid.  But keeping saying that you're not.  Do it consistently.  And if you forget, that's fine.  Just keep trying your best to contradict their meanie words.  And one day... you will believe yourself.

And if you believe yourself then guess what, what they say can't be true.  And you'll stop believing what they say.  So the next time they say, "Man, you are dumb." You couldn't care less because you know that they're wrong.

And when that happens, the power that this person has over you will dissipate.  And when you see that their words no longer have power over you, you'll see that their bark is worse than their bite and then they will have even less power over you and then... You will feel In Control.

And then, the next time they say something like that, you will laugh at them and say, "Oh, shut up." or whatever. (even if it's just in your head)

And then if you want to quit or leave or stand up to them or whatever like they do in the movies, then that's your life and you do whatever you want to do.

If you're being cyber bullied, here's a link to Kristen Lamb's excellent blog post about that. 

 It mostly applies to authors, but anyone can apply the awesome advice to themselves.
Me telling my bully gallbladder to
Get Lost!
My name is Fleur.  And this is my blog.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Miracles of reading

“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”


Anne Lamott

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Complicated relationships


As I get older and see the world around me in a grown up light, the world still never becomes uncomplicated.  In fact, many times it grows even more complicated.  When we are young we tend to see the world in simple terms, in black and white with only a little bit of grey.  You think, wow, those old people (haha) have it all figured out.  They know how things are.  However, after getting to know a couple of those oldies very intimately, I can tell you, they don't.


As a child, I never thought that I would be the kind of person who stopped speaking to a family member.  There were six of us kids and I was the middle child.  Getting along with everyone was pretty much a requirement.  When my grandmother died, an elderly man came up to us at the funeral and introduced himself as a relative of my grandfather (who had already passed away).  They hadn't spoken in many many years and I didn't even know of his existence.  He came to pay his respects and introduce himself at the same time.  I thought that that was very sad and yet, I haven't spoken to one of my sisters in a couple of years.  And even though I was angry at first, the freedom I felt from cutting her off of my life has motivated me to keep her out of my life.  And yet, I feel sad at the loss that my own children will have of her absence and that of their cousin.  And I'm almost embarrassed that I will be that kind of person, the kind of person who holds a grudge and doesn't talk to a sibling (for heck's sake!) for years.

All kinds of things can make relationships complicated.  Friends get divorced and you don't know which side to take.  People reveal problems that they're having and you see a new side to them.  Childhood friends grow older and their world doesn't revolve around you anymore.  People change, they develop diseases (mental and physical) or hold grudges.  They surprise you by the people that they become and sometimes you can't help but wonder at who they are anymore.

And death, the aftereffects of something so final, so complete, brings out a whole new set of complicated feelings.  Sometimes you're very lucky to have someone in your life that when they die, your whole world changes.  Your heart is no longer able to feel completely full: there will always be a hole and an ache in your chest where that person once resided.  Any death of another person reminds you of that one person who left you.  You can't help but feel abandoned even though, sometimes, it wasn't their fault.  

Although, at this point you might not believe me, but I'm a decided optimist.  I know that there is good and bad in this world and I've made the decision to see the world for it's good.  So how do we take these complicated feelings we have and make them into a good thing?  

First, we have to make the choice to look at the good in others.  Sometimes it's not easy.  Okay, lots of times it's not easy.  But if we want to take the poison out of our own cups, we must try, even if we just work on wanting to try.  
And sometimes we can learn to accept them.  That is key.  If we can accept others, and ourselves, for who we are, what we are, and how we are, then the complications can slowly dissipate. 

Second, we must learn to forgive.  Even the dead person who left you.  When we hold on to our anger, we are punishing ourselves the most because of the acid that builds up in our bodies and hearts.  And I'm not saying that you can forgive them right away, things need to happen in time and space, when the time is right and healing is there, it can be very freeing. 

Third, we must realize that sometimes, things just take time.  In a world where people meet, fall in love, fight and make up in anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours, at a subconscious level we believe that the complications of life can be resolved in a short period of time.   And, this is very hard for me to admit, but sometimes, things won't ever be resolved.  There, I said it.  When my grandmother died, I definitely had some unresolved feelings that I never worked out with her.  Instead I wrote them all on a piece of paper, then, when I felt I was ready, I tore it up and threw it in the tub.  Actually, I took a bath with it.  I don't know why, maybe I needed to feel that the words needed to become a part of me.

Sometimes I think I stress more about my feelings than I do about the actual complication.  Why can't I just work this out?  I don't know, maybe I think I need to be a robot or something.  After one of my best friends died, I couldn't understand my devastation and just wanted all of those feelings to go away.  And yet, still to this day, the devastation remains.  I don't know if it will ever go away.  I don't think it will.  And yet, I need to learn to live with it.  Make it a part of me and accept it.

Things do soften with time.  (at least, they can)  Give yourself some time and realize, "Hey!  You're not a robot!"  That's what being human is all about.  Living with emotions.
Fourth, be honest with them.  Honestly, this is the hardest thing for me.  When I was younger it was a lot easier.  I just straight up, told someone what I thought of them.  Now that I'm older, I've come to realize the value of the white lie.  Sometimes, the white lie is the kindest thing to do because people don't want to hear the bad things about themselves all the time.  Would you?  Of course not. 
The reason this is so hard for me is because when I'm honest with someone, it opens myself up to vulnerability.  I'm telling them about my weakness, my issues.  Also, what if they decide to be honest with me in return, and tell me about things that I don't want to hear?
However, if things are ever really bad, then telling them the truth can be the best thing because it might just be a misunderstanding and talking about things will clear things up.

Fifth, we must realize that no one is perfect, including ourselves.  I feel like I'm the worst as dealing with relationships (maybe you shouldn't be taking advice from me! :D) but sometimes I need to remind myself to just give myself a break.  

I can't forgive everyone at once, and I can't be the perfect person to everyone, just like they can't be the perfect person to me.  Everyone is just trying their best, and we should love them (and ourselves) for the effort.  


The man who always makes my relationship simple
Because of his undying true passion and love for me.



  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

  (5 out of 5)
"Life is about more than hate. It takes more than anger to make a hero."

"There's a hole in me. A gaping wound. Every part of me misses every part of them. And it never stops hurting. I can't bear the thought of missing you, too."


The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley is a touching story about a boy who has lost his family, lives in the hospital, and tries to find a purpose in life. He serves food in the cafeteria, hangs out with the nurses in the ER, and visits the sick kids/teens in the pediatrics. All while he draws an epic graphic novel/comic about an anti-superhero depicting himself.

I thought that The Five Stages of Andrew Brawely was extremely well written. I loved Hutchinson's style of writing, as well as his story telling capabilities. The story was tragic, heart breaking, funny, loving, and inspiring. It's a story like this one that needs to be told.  It references topics like bullying, acceptance, LGBT lives, love, death, and so much more. Andrew as a main character was truly inspiring to me. We see him go through so much as the story progresses that you can't help but care deeply about him, the loss that he's suffered, and the blurry future that's ahead of him. The same goes for Rusty, Lexi, and Trevor. 

The most important subject this book talks about is death. Death is all around us. It's inevitable, and there is nothing we can do about it.  We have to accept the fact that things happen for a reason, and we can't always be the hero that saves the day.  For me The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley helped me grow as a person, not just emotionally, but spiritually as well. As someone who has experienced death in the family, I could really relate to how Andrew was feeling, and what he was going through. This story touched my heart, and I hope it does the same for everyone else who is lucky to read it.

Finally I want to talk about the graphic novel portion of the story. After certain chapters we get to see the story that Andrew created. It helps paint the picture of how he is truly feeling when he's too afraid to admit it out loud. He feels everything that happened was his fault and it really showed through the character that he created in his world. It was a great addition to the over all story and it wouldn't be what it is without it!!   

So I hope you enjoyed my review of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson.
See ya next time,


Jesse Nicholas 

Jesse Nicholas, todays guest blogger, lives in Manitoba, Canada. He is an aspiring writer and one day wishes to have a novel published. Along with writing, Jesse enjoys music, travel, trashy TV, and is an avid reader of anything in the Young Adult genre. He currently posts reviews on the YA novels he reads on his blog, and spends hours upon hours coming up with ideas for a future novel.  You can read other book reviews on his blog at http://jessenicholasya.blogspot.ca/

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Reading is...

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

5 things I learned from Stephen King about writing and about life


1. Be true to what's IN you.

When King first saw the little deer caught in a forest fire in the movie Bambi, he was terrified and thrilled at the same time.  He's unashamedly always been drawn to horror and he thinks it's fun to use that fascination to scare others through his writing.  He's not afraid to specialize in something that others might consider a little bit unrespectable and it obviously works for him.  He's sold over 350 million books and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Bring out your passions through writing.  It will be cathartic and others will be drawn to your energy.  I love to travel and I love history and politics.  In my current book series, my hero gets to do both those things, and he gets to do both at the same time: travel around the world in history.  It makes my job very enjoyable, and when you're having fun others will want to join in.

My mantra is to live my life with passion.  And that doesn't mean a particular behavior - like in the soap operas or something.  It means to live life in a way that you're involved in things you have a passion for.  For instance, I recently discovered that I love mountain biking.  And so I try to do it regularly.  I'm passionate about my family, so I stay home with my kids.  I know that everyone can't do this, no judgement, but lots of times we go without because I'm not working (I'm not talking about food or shelter, here.  Just glamorous vacations and stuff) but it's worth it to me to be with my kids every day.  I'm passionate about writing, so I'm making the leap to become a successful author (the best part is I can do this while I'm home with my kids) even though it's scary as hell sometimes.  I love to be active -- jumping out of planes, hiking, swimming, climbing waterfalls, jumping into pools of water, you know, whatever.  Just do it!  Cuz sitting around all day looking at a computer screen isn't living---unless that's something you're passionate about.
Do what's IN you.

2.  Don't be afraid of critics.

Stephen King has had countless critics, even cartoons drawn of him eating money.  That doesn't stop him from sticking to his guns.  Of literary critic Harold Bloom, he said, "He's one of them, who take their ignorance about popular culture as a badge of intellectual prowess."  He's not afraid to punch back, or just ignore them.

Currently on Amazon, the first Harry Potter book has 143 1 star reviews.  Book 7 in the series has 162 one star reviews.  And those are just her amateur reviewers.  She's got a lot more professional critical reviews, not to mention libraries banning her books because of her magical elements.  Now, that's nothing compared to her positive reviews but still, if you focus on the negative things that other people say, you will get discouraged easily.  If someone criticizes your work, then take it as a compliment that something you wrote made them passionate enough against it enough to say something.  And thus, you've inspired passion in others.

When we stay true to ourselves, in everything we do, we attract the best people to us.  They will like us for who we are, and maybe even, have the same quirkiness.  And even if they're not, they will still be genuine in their friendship.  Because they will like your genuineness.  Sometimes we're afraid to be ourselves in front of others because we see our faults like: ugly, fat, gay, weird, dark or whatever and we think that others won't like us.  Well, you might be right.
Wat??
 Of course! Not everyone likes everyone.  Look at politicians: no matter how hard they try, they just can't get everyone to like them.  But, if we stay true to ourselves, then we will be happier because we're not fighting against our true nature and we'll be around others who like us for who we really are inside.
And guess what: if you just try it out you may find that others like you better, weird quirks and all.

3.  Take a break

When Stephen King was younger, he would write every day for six months to get out what's in his head.  Then he would make himself stop for 10-12 days to let things settle.  Today he spends a few hours writing and revising it and then turns it off.  He attributes this slower schedule to getting older.  (Don't let that fool you, in 2014 he wrote 3 books, a screenplay and a musical)

After writing for about 9 hours in my dungeon the other day, my brain felt like it was going to burst!  Even though I'm a new writer, I take it very seriously.  But sometimes, you just gotta take a break.  I recommend meditation of some kind.  But getting out of the story for a time is like turning off your phone.  Sometimes you need a reboot.  Taking a break can help with writer's block, see a new perspective on your writing, solve a problems you're having or have new ideas that will blow your book up.  Something about not thinking about your book makes it even better.

In today's world, we never turn off our gadgets.  Ever.  We obsess over battery life.  I am the absolute worst at this.  If I sit down to eat, I'm looking at my phone, or my computer.  If I'm waiting in the car for some reason, I pull it out.  And when we do this, it creates a buzz in the back of our brain.  We're constantly receiving information, our brains are constantly working.  And it Just. Never. Stops.  I'm sorry, but that's just not good for us.  This creates a build up of stress in our minds.  Eventually we become quick to anger and we take it out on our friends, coworkers, family and the guy who cuts us off in the road.
About a year ago, I came across a book called, The Wooden Bowl, and it taught me how to meditate.  I loved this book because it taught me that meditation can be very simple and can be done anywhere. When you think of meditation, a lot of people think of yoga retreats or a man sitting in a room humming.  Actually it's not.  A meditation can be many things, but one thing it is is just a rest for your brain.  You can either clear your mind and focus on your breathing, or you can live in the moment and just let your thoughts go through you without really concentrating on them (or worrying about them!), or you can try to imagine a serene setting.  You can take just 2 minutes to do this and it will help.
When I started doing this, it made a HUGE HUGE difference in my life.  My stress levels went down.  Now, what I find myself doing is going somewhere quiet.  Where no one will talk to me.  Sometimes it's in a (safe) random parking lot facing an field or something, it doesn't matter that much where.  I just need it to be quiet.  And I sit there until I feel calm and peaceful.  It usually takes me about an hour but it just depends.  And afterwards, I feel ready to be the good mommy (instead of the cranky monster mommy) again.  Try it!  I promise, you will like it.

4.  No matter what, the fear of failure doesn't go away.  So don't let that stop you.

King said that he's always having dreams about failure.  For instance, he dreams that it's opening night of a play and he hasn't got his costume or memorized his lines.  When asked if he still afraid of failure after all these years of success he said, "Sure.  I'm afraid of all kinds of things.  I'm afraid of failing at whatever story I'm writing - that it won't come up for me, or that I won't be able to finish it."

JK Rowling said that she still worries that she will push some magic button and all her money will disappear.  Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer of Eat, Pray, Love said that when she sat down to write her second book, she was very worried that the success of her first book was just a fluke of nature.  Everyone worries but successful people don't let those worries stop them from what they're doing.  Persistence is key and learn to keep the negative voices in your head in a very small corner of your mind.  They'll come out to play every once and a while, but then you need to ignore them.  One way you can do this is by lying to yourself, tell yourself that you are successful, you are brilliant, or whatever is the opposite of what the negative voices are telling you.  Keep working at your dreams and don't ever give up.  Only get better.

5.  Let your soul bleed...

When King writes, he hurts mentally.  It gives him a headache.  Sometimes he's got so much in him that it feels like his "head [is] going to burst."

He gives in to the emotions of the writing and it pains him physically and mentally.  That's when you know that you're writing something good.  Is it making you cry?  Is it making you laugh?  Good.  Then you know others will too.

Why is showing our vulnerabilities so scary?  That's something that is incredibly difficult to do.  I work on it in my blogging.  When I blogged about my sister's bipolar, I was so nervous.  I don't even know why.  It is something so... incredibly difficult to deal with emotionally for me.  She is so dear to me, even though I don't tell her that often enough, and to just lay it all out there...  When I hit publish, I felt like I was baring my soul to the world.  I still can't blog about something else very very difficult for me.  I can't even write it here.  Because every time I think about writing about it, it get's stuck in my throat and tears sting my eyes and the hole in my chest rips back open.
And yet, it's honest.
What are your favorite books / songs / blogs?  Sure, there are some really great fun ones out there, but the ones who really touch you, ones that really mean something to you, are the ones that are really honest.  They touch us to the core and speak to our inner soul.  If we want to reach others, in a real way, we have to let our souls bleed for them.


Read more about Stephen King's family, addiction and beliefs on God and Evil here.
Photo credit.

My name is Fleur.  And this is my blog.
Read my book here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

YA Book Review: Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho

♥ ♥ - - - (2 out of 5) 

"What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Review

Althea & Oliver is the debut novel by Christina Moracho. It tells a story of two best friends and a one sided love. Althea wants more than the friendship that they have, while Oliver just wants to be normal again. So let me tell you why I gave this book a 2 out of 5!

First off I want to say what I liked about the novel. The cover is what probably attracted me to the story in the first place. It's extremely bright yellow, with black accents really made it stand out on a book shelf! And then I got to reading the synopsis, and I liked it.

The premise of the novel I thought was interesting and thought provoking, so I wanted to give it a read. Sadly, it started going downhill from there. In my opinion I hated the style of writing the author chose to tell the story in. It was told in the third person narrative, which is fine, but I just didn't like the tone the story was putting across. Maybe it is Christina's typical style of writing, or maybe it's just me, but many times I wanted to put the book down and leave it at that.

Then we have the characters. They were unrelatable, sometimes annoying, but ultimately most times frustrating. Not in a way that I want root for them to make the right decisions, but more so that I want to throw this book at their heads. 

One of my biggest issues in the book is when Christina Moracho uses rape in a poor fashion and sometimes even a punchline to a joke. 

"What are you supposed to be?" she asks.
"A date rapist?"   

About half way through the book until the end was excruciating to read. Althea spends it drinking, smoking, and hanging with shady people she just met to prove how shitty her life is now that Oliver wants nothing to do with her. Which I might point out that she deserves after what she did to him while he was in a state of unconsciousness. 

Their friendship is toxic. If they aren't trying to remember the happy memories they shared as kids, or trying to make things work between them sexually, then they are usually fighting and trying to make up.  

I'm sure there are more problematic things I can say about this book, but I'm tired of wasting my time at this point. I got what I needed to get off my chest and now I can move on to another book that deserves to be written about! 

If you enjoy books about toxic relationships, rape, and horrible characters, then you will definitely enjoy this book. I'm sorry if this review comes out rude, trashy, and just plain hateful. That is not the type of person I am, but after reading this book these things just had to be said.

My apologies! Come back next Friday for a better review~

See ya next time, 

Jesse Nicholas



Jesse Nicholas, todays guest blogger, lives in Manitoba, Canada. He is an aspiring writer and one day wishes to have a novel published. Along with writing, Jesse enjoys music, travel, trashy TV, and is an avid reader of anything in the Young Adult genre. He currently posts reviews on the YA novels he reads on his blog, and spends hours upon hours coming up with ideas for a future novel.  You can read other book reviews on his blog at http://jessenicholasya.blogspot.ca/

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Writing about tragedy

The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that. You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance. 

—Richard Price
Quote from this post.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Biggest Thing I've Learned About Publishing

One thing I did not expect to learn about when I decided to publish my book is how much, desperately, I would HAVE have to learn PATIENCE.
Rome wasn't built in a day.

Here is a list of things you have to be patient about:
1. Getting through your first draft:
When you have ideas in your head, and maybe they're all jumbled up or maybe they're in a specific and planned order, you want to get them down quickly or you feel like they'll blow away in the wind.  But it takes time, and sometimes it does blow away with the wind and you stare at your computer screen with major writers block.  And sometimes you have to watch the kids or clean the house or, you know, shower.

2.  Your first draft will never be good enough:
When you finish the last sentence of the first draft you can't help but think, "Brilliant!  Georgous!  I just wrote the best book that's ever been written."  Believe me, you haven't.  What you think you've written is not what's actually on paper and you must revise revise revise.  Don't even bother sending it to anyone, not even your mother.  Edit it first and then send it to your beta readers.

3.  You have to figure out how to portray with words the story that is in your head:
Have you ever read a book that is a decent book but needs just a bit more editing?  I have.  In fact, recently I read a book where the whole plot of the book is about a boy and a girl who, after years of desire, finally decide to get married.  And then, suddenly the guy does something bad and now she can't trust him and they don't get married.  And the last chapter is about her getting married to this guy's best friend.  What?!  So why wasn't the book about their story?
One thing I have to work really hard on is writing.  Haha, I know that sounds funny, but listen, I am a good storyteller.  I've got great stories in my head.  But actually using words instead of ideas is a different thing altogether.  So you may think you've written a good story, but really you have to have other people's opinions to find out if you've been able to put down on paper what's really going on in your head.

4.  As soon as you hit 'Publish', hoards of people will not rush out to buy your book.  No matter how many friends and family you have:
Unfortunately, just because it's easier these days to publish, doesn't mean that people will buy your book.   I remember reading a great article by Brandon Sanderson.  He'd written 8 books and sent queries out and, after no word from agents, was feeling very discouraged.  But he pushed through his discouragement and started writing the next one.  And, finally!, an agent called him about his manuscript and wanted to buy it immediately--a whole year after he sent out his manuscript.
I'm so grateful that I didn't have to wait so long to publish TRISTEN.  However, even though you don't have to wait forever to get noticed by an agent (if you're self published), you still have to pay your dues getting noticed by readers.

5.  Amazon is like the popular girl at school who doesn't even know your name.  Yet:
This was one thing I wasn't sure about when I started writing.  I thought that Amazon would help market my book.  And only when when a sweet friend and author opened up about her experience did I realize that they don't really.  I decided to publish anyway.  I must be a masochist.

6.  Marketing is pretty much pointless until you have a few books out (unless you write nonfiction):
I've got some great ideas in mind for marketing, and would love to attend some conferences, but I think it's kindof silly to pay money to market 1 book, when I can pay the same amount of money to market 3 books.

7.  You have to publish your books in order:
Ever since I wrote the first book in the TRISTEN series, Book 4 has been screaming at me to write it.  But dang it, I have to write the others first cuz I'm not sure what exactly is going to happen before then.  And now that I'm done with the second one, the third one is jumping up and down, "My turn!" it screams.  But, once again, I'm in the middle of writing Book 2 and 1/2, which is a novella and is important to have a preface (in my mind) of Book 3.  So even though I've got major plot points and action scenes just dying to come out, I MUST WAIT.

So if you think that you're going to spit out a book and become an instant success, there is a small possibility that you just may.  However, don't get discouraged if you don't.  What percentage of authors attain that kind of success that quickly?  I can really only think of one or two.  And yet, there are so many out there who are successful, so don't give up, keep writing, and just BE PATIENT.

My name is Fleur.  And this is my blog.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

YA Book Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

This is going to be short and sweet.  And possibly contain *some* spoilers.
Okay, this book is an easy read and has a really super great theme.  One that makes me want to tell every single teenager to read this book.  And that theme is that everyone is the ugly person in the group, at least in their own mind.  And so, just be yourself.

Okay, great, now that I've gotten that out of the way, here's why I WON'T tell every teenager to read this book.  She acts like EVERYONE is having sex as a teenager.
Am I just nieve, you may ask?
Well, maybe.
But this DUFF, who is supposed to be the 'ugly girl 'of the group starts having sex around 14 years old, and then continues to use sex as an escape from her problems.  And then magically the guy she's having sex with starts actually liking her and she starts liking him back.  Maybe this should be a fantasy novel instead of contemporary.
Do some people act like that?
Yes, of course!! 
But I'm sick and tired of all the media - books, music videos, movies and tv shows - acting like everyone in the whole damn world is having sex that young.  So just stop it people!!!!  That's really not true.  Personally, I know A LOT of people who aren't.  I am not lying to you.  In fact, I didn't have sex until I was married and I don't regret it one bit.

Now, I am not a proponent of not having sex.  I love sex.  It's great!!
But, I AM  a proponent of WAITING to have sex.  What's the big deal???  Can't you be creative and do something different that's just as fun?  (BTW, I have just as strong feelings about drugs and drunkenness too).  Don't be so boring!!

People who read or want to read this book: Just because this girl is having sex very young, doesn't mean that you should.

The end.
*steps off rant box*

Friday, May 1, 2015

Losing 2 things in the same day

Today, as I was furiously writing book 2 1/2, my husband came down to my dungeon to tell me that a friend of ours passed away.  He had neck surgery and complications came up.  It was a bit of a shock because we thought that he was out of the woods, and that there would be a long road to recovery, but that there would be a recovery.
He is someone that I really admired.  Lots of times people say really great things about someone after they pass, because how can you speak ill of the dead?  But I am sincere when I say that he was the kind of person who was always helping others.  I don't know why, it was just in his DNA.  He was constantly seen helping people in need.  I really respected him a lot.
He was also my son's scout leader.  When we broke the news to him, my son's eyes instantly teared up.  We let him know that it was okay to feel sad, or to cry.  After several minutes of trying to compose himself, he went outside where his friends were playing in the yard.  Maybe it was his way of trying to deal with his grief but I couldn't help but feel that I'd lost something else today, and that is that my son went to others to help with his pain.
He's 10 years old now and hasn't quite cut the parent-string but he's beginning to and it makes me feel a bit of loss.  He doesn't play with me as often as he used to or confide in me as much.
You never really know the feeling of watching your kids grow up until it happens, just like you never know the love for a child until you have one.  I'm sure there are lots of things that I haven't experienced and I know that there are lots of things that I don't want to experience, but the one thing I can assuredly say is that I'm so grateful to have the Life Experience of having children.
Kids are constantly messing up the house, talking back, testing your rules, and your patience.  When you have kids you become a different person, more stressed, more unorganized.  But in the long run those things don't matter.  When I see my kids toys in my room I can't help but think of the blessing to have a child in my life.  And that they feel an endearment to me, that they want to play in my room.
And sometimes it's really great when they start to become more independent.  You can shower alone (I never thought that I would see the day.  Okay, maybe I did.  I didn't imagine showering with teenagers) and even though I still don't manage to go to the bathroom without interruption all the time, it's still nice to have kids who can dress and feed themselves.
But I really want to know that my kids still want to count on me, when times are tough and also when they are great.  I hope that I will never really lose that communication.  It feels great when I'm listening to the millionth time about some mind numbing game (sorry folks, I could care less about Minecraft) but the fact that my son is so excited to tell me about it feels really amazing.
Sometimes we take advantage of the little things in our lives that are the most important.  Whether it be friendships, family, spouses, girl / boy friends or kids.  We just live with or see them so often, that it becomes so normal and natural to not appreciate them.  But, if you can honestly say that you would be heartbroken if that person were to suddenly disappear... then let's try to show them, if only for a moment, every single day how much we love and appreciate them.  Turn off our phones, or computers or tv.  Turn off their devices.  And just tell them we love them.
My name is Fleur.  and this is the 'One' man for me. I love you babe.