On the Level (NaBloPoMo day 30)

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s blog count: 31

Total blog posts: 31

A phone conversation and a random YouTube interview intersected at a common point today.

I was on the phone with one of my sorority sisters, who is also a writer, albeit a bit earlier along in her career than I. We were discussing a writing conference she’d recently attended, and she asked me if I ever thought about pursuing a traditional publishing contract. I replied been there, done that, and given the current state of traditional publishing, I’m cool with the DIY route (self-publishing).

Later on this evening, I watched a 2012 interview on YouTube of NBA player Anthony Davis (“The Brow”), the star of the New Orleans Pelicans. Since the interview was for/by the Wall Street Journal and was during Davis’s rookie year, the focus was on his finances: how to deal with having such a sudden and large influx of money, how Davis spends it (or not), what the NBA teaches them about financial management during its Rookie Transition Program, etc.

One of the things Davis was asked, concerned the perception of the people in his life about him, since he signed his NBA contract after being picked number one overall in the 2012 draft. He spoke wistfully of having to end some friendships after he went into the NBA, because these people just wanted money, notoriety, etc, from him–the opposite of what a friend should do or be. He also spoke of keeping trusted advisers around him, including a financial manager and business manager, to keep both his bank account and sanity on track.

I thought about his words as I re-examined my own life, since I self-published my first book back in July of this year. While most of the people in my life have been supportive, there are those who have not. I’ve always had a good sense of “friends” versus “acquaintances”, especially as I grew older. And, for anyone who is a member of any type of extracurricular group (social, community-based, professional, etc),  the distinction is further delineated among “friends/sisters/brothers” and “members of the same organization”. There is something to be said for keeping your personal circle very small. At least it becomes easier to determine if someone is stabbing you in the back.

I am even more cognizant of the phrase “Water seeks its own level.” I never really understood that until a few years ago. It means that as you progress and succeed, you’re automatically going to gravitate toward those who are moving in the same upwardly mobile direction as you, and attract the same. I am noticing this in small waves; in the past month alone, I have been in contact with people and organizations that are more in line with the vision I have for my writing as a business.I’m getting requests to connect on LinkedIn that are mind-boggling.. Yesterday’s blog post was retweeted by the very author about whom I wrote (to which I responded with a fangirl squeal). And, in a moment of synchronicity, this same author had a tweet on his page that said:

Likewise, I’m remembering an old adage my grandmother used to say: “You can’t fly like an eagle if you’re surrounded by turkeys.” In order to succeed, you have to surround yourself with like-minded people. That’s not to say you should ignore everyone who is not on the same path with you, but you have to understand that your path has to be walked by you; no one else can do it for you. And sometimes, that path must be walked alone, or in the company of those other than your originally planned companions.

2015 is going to be a busy year. I hope to see some of you on the journey.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Reading Rampage Nostalgia: Eric Jerome Dickey (NaBloPoMo day 29)

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s blog count: 30

Total blog posts: 30

Finding an old book is like finding an old friend. And, like some friendships, it’s easy to take stock of where and who you were when the friendship started, and how things stand now.

I found copies of paperbacks from an author I used to read religiously, Eric Jerome Dickey, and went on a reading rampage. I started with Friends and Lovers, which was, according to him, the second book he wrote, but the first published. Then I followed with Cheaters. I’m debating on whether to read Sister, Sister (first book written, but not the first published–in fact, some of his characters from this book show up in Cheaters). All of this really got started a few weeks ago, when I re-read Thieves’ Paradise (which remains, hands down, my favorite of all his books–and I’ve read most of them).

sister-sister EJD cheaters EJD friends lovers EJD thieves paradise EJD

One of the things that struck me was that I was in a much different place when I first picked up these books over…wow, has it been at least fifteen years? In the aforementioned books (along with Milk in My CoffeeLiar’s Game and Between Lovers, which were all written during the same time frame), all of his characters are in their late twenties/early thirties. As a result, they were still finding out who they were, their place in the world, and still members of Team Bad Decisions. Fifteen or so years ago, these books resonated with me more because I was within those same demographics (even at the ripe old age of 41, I’m still Team Bad Decisions sometimes). Now, I read the books and enjoy the stories on a more superficial level. Likewise, in reading his later books, I can see where Mr. Dickey has grown as a writer; perhaps that’s why I love Thieves’ Paradise so much: that was when his writing seemed to make that next evolutionary step, which may have had something to do with him being able to finally write the novel he always wanted to write (he told me this after an author signing for Thieves’ Paradise, which was arranged by a mutual friend).

I still have copies of the other books somewhere in a box, and I may dig them out and read them someday, although Between Lovers is one of his most complex books, and was the book that was published right before Thieves’ Paradise (so I guess that’s where I caught glimpses of that evolutionary step). I’ll enjoy the books with a side of nostalgia, then put them back on the shelf when I’m done. I may pick them up again in a few years.

between-lovers-eric-jerome-dickey-paperback-cover-art

I don’t read many of his books now; he’s gone in a totally different direction, for the most part; his books are more in the vein of Thieves’ Paradise and Between Lovers: more gritty, more layered and nuanced adult relationships, and less wide-eyed, finding-oneself, time-to-be-a-grownup tropes. Still, I’m not as connected to them as I once was; I see less of myself in his current slate of books, and thus they have become just entertainment for me. I’m happy for him, that he’s writing what he wants to write, what he was meant to write–heck, that he’s still writing. He’s approximately my age, and his writing has reflected his personal evolution and growth, as well as his writing ones. But like an old friend, sometimes you just go in different directions and have to have a parting of the ways. You find new friends, but you keep the old ones on the shelf–and take them off once in a while, dust them off, and enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Letting it Flow (NaBloPoMo day 28)

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s blog count: 29

Total blog posts: 29

 

Today was a no-writing day. I slept, ate Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, watched basketball, read, and thought about writing.

So much for rest. 🙂

Seriously: I had two story ideas and had to stop myself from reaching for my laptop and writing down the first few sentences/paragraphs/pages. That’s what happens when the writing mind is free of constraints (e.g., workshop/contest deadlines) and allowed to flow…stuff just comes to you. I also played with some various scenario twists for this year’s NaNo novel draft, but again; I’ll just jot them down and revisit them seriously next year sometime.

I will get back on my writing job on Monday, when I start revising the draft of the next Bastille novel that will be released in January. Until then, I will enjoy the weekend and catch up on reading and binge-watching my shows and movies.

But I’ll probably sneak some quick writing in. ‘Cause that’s what we writers do. Writing: it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure! (Shoutout to anyone who remembers that reference, which means you’re an American at least over 35 years of age LOL).

Thanks for stopping by.

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Thanksgiving Finish Line! (NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 27)

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 2,656

Today’s blog count: 28

Total words written: 50,050 (and counting)

Total blog posts: 28

Happy Thanksgiving, to those of us in the United States who are celebrating a day of being grateful (and gorging on turkey with all the fixins). And happy day to those in other countries. 😀

 

I DID IT! I DID IT! For the second year in a row, I have “won” National Novel Writing Month with a word count of 50,000…and I’m still writing. Once I crossed the 50K mark, I went ahead and validated the novel. There was a 100-word discrepancy between my word count tool and NaNoWriMo’s, but hey…I’ll take it. 😀

This is one of the many things that I have to be thankful for. Especially since this was a book that I never saw coming.

I am also thankful for NaNoWriMo being OVER, as far as the word count goes. This book is going to be longer than others I’ve written, as the plot has taken unforeseen turns that require more plot extension. I probably won’t even revisit it until next year, because I have other writing projects that are more pressing. But it will be nice to work on the book when I feel like it, versus the pressures of the NaNoWriMo workshop/competition.

I still have to complete National Blog Posting Month, so I will probably post about random stuff which may or may not be book-related. You’ve been warned. 😀

Now that I’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner and eaten my first round, it’s time to get some dessert and curl up with a book (and some wine). 😉 The final menu was: turkey, macaroni & cheese, potato salad, collard greens, green beans, corn, dressing (which is just stuffing that is eaten outside of the bird lol), sweet potato pie, apple pie, rolls. All made with these two hands (except for the rolls, which were store-bought). And a nice pinot noir for myself. 😉

WriMos, the finish line is close; you can cross it! There are still three more days left. Let’s get it!

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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Rocking Pots (NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 26)

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,103

Today’s blog count: 27

Total words written: 47,397

Total blog posts: 27

 

Not much to say today, except I added a bit to some existing scenes in the novel, and added the beginning of another twist. Most of my day was spent making the more time-consuming side dishes for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal: potato salad,  dressing (I don’t stuff my turkey; never have), macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pies (I’m in the South, and we do sweet potatoes), and apple pie. I also prepped some of the fresh vegetables for tomorrow, which will cook quickly while the turkey is roasting.

Despite all that, I managed to write just over 1,000 words today. And I have my alarm scheduled for 7:00 am to put the turkey in the oven.

I’s dawg tired, bawse.

Writers, keep on keeping on.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Are We There Yet? (NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 25)

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 2,362

Today’s blog count: 26

Total words written: 46,294

Total blog posts: 26

 

You can always tell when it’s time for an activity to come to a close. For me, it’s when that activity starts becoming a chore.

I’ve been feeling that way for the past few days about NaNoWriMo. The checking of stats, pushing myself to make my allotted word count each day (even if–especially if–I have no idea what to write), etc. is getting tedious. And when something fun turns to tediousness, it’s time to leave the party.

I’m happy to be less than 3,000 words from the 50,000 mark. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is bringing me a sense of relief. I’m ready for this to be over, for this year. Part of it is, as I’ve said in some previous posts, that I am writing when I am normally on a post-published-book, month-long mental vacation.  Part of it is that I’m running out of ideas on how to further expand the plot of my novel. Part of it is that I need to devote time to an upcoming book that is due in less than two short months. Part of it is that my time will be focused on preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Another part is that I don’t want to have to do ANYTHING on Thanksgiving but eat, read, relax, roll over…lather, rinse, repeat. 😀 Notice I didn’t mention writing.

Anyway, NaNoWriMo is an intense month, and as such I am ready to switch to a lower gear. 2,362 more words…

My fellow writers in the struggle–we’re almost there!

Thanks for stopping by.

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Everybody was Turk-Fu Fighting (NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 24)

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,867

Today’s blog count: 25

Total words written: 43,932

Total blog posts: 25

 

If you think that the milk of human kindness runs through your veins, the quickest way to test this theory is to go grocery shopping during the week of Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I did that today, and it really tested my patience, temper, and love for my fellow man.

Since Thanksgiving (here, in the USA) is this Thursday, and since that means a shortened work week for many, some go ahead and use vacation time for the whole week. Thanksgiving is the largest, if not one of the largest, travel time here in the States, as people travel to be with loved ones, stuff themselves on turkey, duck, maybe ham, and/or goose (or tofurkey, if you’re a vegetarian), and watch football all day. Needless to say, in preparation for this gloriously gluttonous event, stores are packed every day up until that day. Most, like me, try to shop a few days in advance so as to avoid the panicked, last-minute crowds.

The line to turn into the store parking lot was backed up down the street, halfway to the previous traffic light.  That should have been my first clue but, since this was my first time shopping at this particular store this year for Thanksgiving (I shop there regularly for everyday food needs, and was a bit spoiled by not having to fight too hard for a parking space), I was a bit taken aback.Then I remembered my above comment and surmised that there were a lot of people  there who’d taken the week off. Anyway, I found a parking spot as someone was leaving (a row over from where I usually park–no big deal), grabbed a shopping  cart, and sallied forth.

I almost turned back around, but the siren call of excellently priced fresh produce, wines, and meats kept me there 9it’s why I shop there in the first place).

The place was cart bumper to cart bumper–literally. A traffic cop would have been welcome, since there was an overabundance of people who either 1) had never been there before; 2) didn’t shop there regularly; or 3) were so overwhelmed by their shopping list that they parked their carts in the middle of consumer traffic, trying to get a clue. Or worse, just standing in congested traffic areas (like narrow aisles/sections) having an at-length conversation about a product, oblivious to those who want to enter that section as well. When in the midst of shopping traffic that could have rivaled the Indy 500, that wasn’t a wise thing to do. Some of the worse culprits were the elders; I had the misfortune of almost running over some of the AARP posse, as they meandered their carts with little regard for anyone or anything but their God-given right to stretch their fixed incomes by virtue of the wonderful prices at this shopping establishment.

I was so frustrated at one point, I was calling on God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, and some other deities too–I needed all the help I could get. Indeed, I greatly wished for a large speaker from which blasted the rapper Ludacris’s curse-laden ode to slow drivers (Caution: NSFW–profanity):

(work with me, y’all; I’m still a work in progress)

Anyway, thanks to my detailed list and knowledge of the store’s layout, I was able to get in and out without too much hassle or bloodshed. Still, I’m not looking forward to Christmas shopping. Maybe I’ll start next week. 🙂

Wrimos and BloPos, seven more days till the finish line! WOOOOO!!!

Thanks for stopping by.

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