The Life and Times of a Full-Time Server

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Which is currently getting in the way of even being a hobbyist writer. I’m currently seeking another job. I’m seeking server work, but that’s mainly because I’ve become accustomed to having daily cash. Eventually, I’ll be making that transition from daily cash to actual paychecks and royalty checks, but to try and make that leap (again) would be rather disastrous for me. At this point, it’s just going to be baby steps.

I do, however, need a different job because the current one is unable to support all of my financial responsibilities. The only way for my current serving job to support all of my financial responsibilities would be for me to ditch my car. That would eliminate the car payment and the car insurance by $655 a month. The other areas where I can cut would only decrease my responsibilities by a potential $136. I could declare bankruptcy, but that’s an absolute last resort that I would really, really, really love to avoid right this moment. Besides, I’ve hit the three-year mark with this place. I’ve hit the point where going in feels like it’s crushing my soul and my motivation to do much of anything.

Which is why I have the depth words for this year. In case you’ve missed it on Facebook (and in case I haven’t brought it up here . . . which I haven’t; last entries were dated for December 2018), I’ve chosen three words for this year to expand myself as an author and as a human being. I’ve chosen Movement, Courage, and Trust. For me, it means identifying the areas in my life where I’ve become complacent, where my personal development and growth have stagnated, where my writing career has stalled out, and I’m going from there.

This means, for me, living up to what I say I’m going to do. If I want to publish, I need to get that pen into my hands and the words written on paper. That means sitting my ass at my laptop and transcribing those words into a word document. It means setting dates and trying to reach those deadlines.

To help me get there, I bought a rather large planner from the Happy Planner people. (Michael’s had an amazing deal on them! And planner stickers! It’s been so inspiring! And I can get caught up in “making plans” just like anyone else. This planner, however, is doing more to keep me on track than anything else I’ve ever tried.) While I’m not hitting what I want to do for daily word counts, I am making it a point to write every day. I have a focus on three works in progress each week, one of which is super secret at this point. When the time comes, I will announce what it is and when it will be published. One of these works in progress is the upcoming The Summer of Dragons and Fireflies, which I’ve pushed back to an April 5th release date. Another part of why I’m seeking another job is my current one eats up too much of my daytime hours. I’m gone from my laptop anywhere from 10-12 hours a day, five days a week, and it isn’t always busy at my workplace. Sadly, I can’t carry my laptop with me to use at work. My bosses would definitely frown on that, and, upon getting home, I simply want to unwind and allow my brain and spirit to recuperate. It sucks. It will probably sound like I’m whining to some people out there who come across this, and I feel like I am. I feel like I’m allowed to get this off my chest because I want to focus more on my writing than spend an hour in my car driving to and from work and working for a place that truly doesn’t respect my time (but demands that I respect theirs by trying to get 2 hours of work done in 20 minutes – can’t be done unless time is taken during the shift to actually get the more time-consuming tasks done. Again, not always possible because customers come first). A change of pace will actually do me some good, a change of environment will do me some wonders as well.

Anyhoo, back to the writing aspect here, I’m also working on stories already in progress only. Depending on what I get done, I may end up doing the same thing for next year, waiting to start new projects until all current works in progress are completed in rough draft. This is a bad habit I got into with NaNo because of their “rules” for November. (Yes, I’ll be participating in NaNo this year again, too. Projects for November and the Camp NaNos in April and July will be determined closer to those dates.) It’s a habit I’m working on breaking. The habit I’m replacing thi with is finishing the project, hence daily word tracking and rotating out one novel a week to build up that stamina. The super secret project is getting daily work, along with The Summer of Dragons and Fireflies. My goal, by doing this, is to get some works completed.

So now that this is out of the way, I’m making it official here (it’s already official on Facebook and will be official on Twitter). The Summer of Dragons and Fireflies will hit online bookshelves on April 5. I know Tuesdays tend to be the typical day of a book release, which generally coincides with video games, DVD, and music releases. I’m aiming to be weird(er) on this. Excerpts will be coming soon. The art reveal will be next Tuesday, February 5th.

Finally, I’m just going to end with what I’m doing to get myself out of my current situation. This is where my word, Trust, is coming into play. I’m currently taking an online alcohol course to cement my alcohol license here in Oklahoma. This simply means I’ll be approved by the state of Oklahoma to work in bars or any place that serves or sells alcohol. I’m looking to expand my serving skills. I actually love serving. I love working in the food industry. I’ve entertained, off and on over the years, starting my own restaurant. One thing I would love to do over the next three years is get myself a food truck to serve food to homeless people, something I would love to do on a daily basis.

I’m on the fence about massage therapy now. It was bound to happen. I love the idea behind it and what it can afford to me. I’ve run into some obstacles I wasn’t expecting, along with a timeline conflict. Chances are now I’ll be taking classes somewhere out of Oklahoma. I’ve had a goal of moving to Colorado for almost three years now. That’s one more thing I’m aiming to make happen this year instead of next. This is where I ask myself for how much longer do I keep putting off the one thing I’ve known is meant to happen for me for the sake of this thing or that thing. Yes, the massage therapy courses would help me in getting a job once in Colorado, but there are also other things I’m ready for.

And this is pretty much it for today. First entry of the year, and I’m glad I got it done.

I hope everyone enjoyed their new year’s celebrations! If you’ve chosen a word for a depth year, may you find yourself wildly surpassing all of your expectations and dreams!

Blessed be, my friends, and happy Tuesday!

Coming up in the next entry: Explorative Creative Writing, Part One

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A Poor Woman’s (Brief Moments of) Envy

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The full title of this entry is A Poor Woman’s (Brief Moments of) Envy Of a Former, Wannabe, Middle-Class Writer

I’m aiming for a bit harsh here, but, for as harsh as I might seem on this other person, I’m more harsh on myself. Mainly because I believed in her and her abilities far more than I had myself. Some of it still creeps in.

One of the biggest influences for how I’ve gone about things probably shouldn’t be considered one of my biggest influences, or, at least, I shouldn’t consider her to be a good influence.

Or maybe I should. I’m rather on the fence about this.

Part of my writing journey has been a little bit of observation, a whole lot of writing (and hair-pulling), and actually publishing my works through various platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Noble NOOK, and Draft2Digital with an eventual hook-up with Luu. (CreateSpace’s customer service was something to be desired towards the end, which is why I’m speculating that Kindle is absorbing that.) Part of the observation was mainly through someone I admired who also embarked on this writing journey then found out it was a lot tougher and rougher than she could have thought possible. The critique group she discovered left her battered and bruised, actually felt almost outright hostile to me when I gave them a chance over encouraging. I mean, I had someone follow me directly to my blog from that critique group and tell me if I wanted to be a published author, I would go back and take the advice there that was given to me, as if this site was the absolute only way to become a published author. As if there is only one single path in order to become published and successful. That type of attitude is something, I’m sure, Chuck Wendig, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and a few hundred other successful authors would disagree with if anyone tried to tell them as much. Persistence is the only common ingredient here.

Anyhoo, back to my observations of this wannabe writer and why I kind of envy her right this moment as well as why I’m trying to shed myself of that envy.

You see, back in the start of her journey, her husband took on a job that allowed him to pay their bills. He actually encouraged her to take the time off to focus on novel writing, if I recall her entries on the matter correctly. (She also had an amazing support system in him and the various friends she had through Livejournal, myself included.) Up until I actually self-published Portal to Gaming over four years ago, I had no such support system. In fact, before I took Portal to Gaming directly to Kindle, my support system was a handful of co-workers and a friend who stopped speaking to me earlier this year, and then I was painfully unemployed for the longest stretch of my life ever. Even now, I don’t have anyone who is, “Hey, take the time to get some books written. I’ll take care of all the bills” because that’s not how it works for poor people. When money is tight or not even there at times, everyone in the household can feel that pinch. I have to carve that time out of my day because my 24 hours are filled differently than someone who earns even $$40k a year over my $$17k a year. (In fact, I’m quite disgruntled that I was more productive as a writer and able to publish more when I was unemployed than I am at near full-time employment.)

I had someone once tell me he wished he could do that for me. Given where I was at in that point of my life and where I’m at now, I’m not sure that would have been the best thing for me. My confidence in myself skyrocketed because I landed a serving job and gained me a chance to be more socially interactive with people. I also now have a car that can only be taken from me by Ford should I stop making my car payments. And, while I’m envious that this person had someone who did that for her, I also learned the difference between being a poor person (me) and being a middle-class person (her).

In order to be a success, in order to create change in my life, persistence is key. In fact, that’s the one ingredient that’s true of any given path we take in this life. PERSISTENCE.

I’m harsh on this woman because it’s normal for her to just give up and chase the next shiny thing that comes along. She has the means to do it. I’m harsh on her because she lacked the strength and conviction to actually see what she could have accomplished.

And I’m doubly harsh on myself for believing in her more than myself. I’m doubly harsh on myself for using her as one of the only actual sources for how things can be, and I’m super doubly harsh on myself for listening to those who haven’t immersed themselves into this world the way that I have. (I have received some harsh criticism for wanting to get vendor space at conventions to promote my books from someone who isn’t a writer, who has only seen half of how things have changed for authors, and still saw fit to give me advice based on either limited information from others or no actual information from the writing/publishing world at all. If she had it, she never exactly said.)

It’s been a bit of a slow-going here, but I’m remembering just how brave and tenacious I used to be. I’m still learning, my friends, and, through all of this, I’m proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished these last four years. The woman who I used to admire can probably the same thing for what she’s learned, but I’m taking my lessons to higher places. I love holding my books in my hands. I love talking about epic adventures, Norse gods, and dragons. I recently had a friend gift me a pie he made. Blueberry Lemon Meringue pie. He thought, because it was a non-traditional pie for the holidays, he would give it to me because I’m such a non-traditional person (and yet I love me some pumpkin pie, lol). In looking at my decisions in life, he’s quite right. I’m quite the non-traditional person, and I love it.

I’m Victorea Ryan Meadow, and I approve of myself, my works, and this message.

Hopes and Dreams for a Better Future Or At Least a Better 2019

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First up, publication announcements!

If you’re not already aware, I am a self-published author at this point, and I will probably continue to do so for some time. I had an amazing revelation the other day about why I’m currently dissatisfied with some of my works (including those already published), and, because of that revelation, my hopes of finding a traditional publisher who will back me is very slim. Mind you, when the time comes, I’ll still try, if only because I want to know what it feels like to get a rejection letter. (And if I’m pleasantly surprised upon querying, then I’m pleasantly surprised!)

At any rate, because I am self-published, the “company” producing this work is my brand, the name of my Facebook page, and of these journals, Enchanted Realms Fiction, and I am quite pleased to announce the following:

The 2019 Publishing schedule:
The Summer of Dragons and Fireflies, Book 1 of the Maepyrian Chronicles, and Ravensrealm, Arc of Fantasy Book 3, are slated for February and July publication dates.
Rune Stories was originally intended for December, but it is now off the 2019 schedule – mainly because there are events going to happen in the four Maepyrian Chronicles that will affect the events in Rune Stories, and thus Rune Stories will be a big spoiler for some of that. So, upon completion of all four books in the Maepyrian Chronicles, Rune Stories will be published at some later date.
Rune Stories will be replaced with a current work in progress to be announced at a later date.
The Summer of Dragons and Fireflies is due out Tuesday, February 5, 2019. An in-person and online release parties are being planned for that time, to be followed by in Tulsa sales at the upcoming Crash-Landed convention.

The 2019 Convention Schedule:
Crash-Landed, February 15-17, the Cox Convention Center, Tulsa
Tokyo in Tulsa, July 12-14, the Cox Convention Center, Tulsa
Heroic Tulsa, November 8-10, the Cox Convention Center, Tulsa

I will also be doing what I can to host meet-and-greets/author signings throughout the Tulsa area through May of 2019 for certain. May is going to be the tricky month as I want to move out of Oklahoma before the summer hits. I love a good, hot summer, but not to the point where I’m being chased inside with the A/C running.That’s not a good summer, so I’m doing what I can to head north.

For the record, I did move out of Tulsa in 2016. I lived in Gretna, Louisiana, for a month and a half. Because I had no real life experiences of living with others, I ended up coming back to Tulsa, which has been of a great benefit for me. I’m actually getting out more, meeting with newfound friends, and just enjoying what my life has to offer.

Still, the mountains call me, and that’s where I’m going to go. After May 2019, when the dust settles from another move, I’ll be looking for local bookstores in my new area in which to promote and sell my books or even restaurants.

And that’s pretty much it for right now. For all of my writer friends, I know it seems like you’re getting nowhere, the rewards you’re dreaming of just aren’t there yet, but, in order to reap those rewards, to know that joy of holding your own book in your hands, I encourage you to stay strong.

Seriously, stay strong. Writing has never been an easy gig nor one with instant gratification. Very few authors actually get that right away. Even the ones who “appear” to have done so, well, they worked hard, they believed in themselves and their abilities even as they struggled and fought their inner demons and critics and self-doubts.

Your story is in the shape of someone else’s wound.

Heal it!

On Womanhood

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My grandmother died probably a very miserable woman at the age of 84.

I say this because I bounced around a lot from August 2014 through August 2015. I’d lived with her twice before moving to Washington, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma (for one day) and then Oklahoma again, where I’ve managed to stay for the better part of three years. During that time, I listened to her misery.

I listened as she prayed, every day, to Jesus for help but never appreciated the small forms of help she actually got. I listened to her lament, at the age of 82, how she wished she could go back to work because no one told her that it was actually okay to rest and to take care of herself for a change. I listened to her just be miserable because time took from her what it will take from all of us: mobility, strength, endurance, our wit, and everything else that society says makes us valuable. She was never taught how to be happy, that she could have been a good source of wisdom . . . if she hadn’t been so focused on how things used to be, how they were supposedly so much better, and how horrible things are in this world. She worried over her weight, her daughters’ weights, her granddaughters’ weights, and tried to control my portions of food at one point. (That doesn’t work very well. I know I’m fat, and I’m learning to be okay with that, even in the face of the body shamers and the haters.)

I write this now, as a 41-year-old woman, in a state of transition. My life has taken some very interesting turns over the last few years, and I know that, when it comes time for me to die, the only thing I want to be is content and ready and happy with how my life has turned out. I write this now as a woman who grew up in a family who adored little girls but wanted to dress them up like dolls and put them on a shelf of permanent youth and beauty and stasis. Little girls weren’t supposed to climb trees. Little girls weren’t supposed to be interested in playing the mud or with toy cars. Little girls weren’t supposed to be bold and courageous in the face of new challenges. Little girls wore pink and lacy, frilly dresses, their hair curled at the tender age of 7.

Little girls weren’t supposed to believe in magic and fairy tales. Little girls were supposed to find a good husband who made more than enough money so they didn’t ever have to be without.

Time makes the generational gap all the more interesting.

I recently watched a Goalcost video of a woman who spoke about how dangerous it is for a woman to love her body. There are people who are somehow threatened by a confident woman and will do anything and everything they can to dim her light. Her response by the end of the video was amazing.

You can’t dim the sun.

And that is so true. You can’t dim the sun. The clouds may cover it from time to time, there are days when it rains almost endlessly, but the sun still shines even behind those clouds. We can’t always see it, but we can always feel it.

My move to Tulsa is one I’m starting to embrace, just a little, but I know where my heart truly belongs. It’s in the mountains and forests of Colorado. But, while I’m here, I’m learning more and more about what it means to be a woman, defining that without someone else telling me what it’s supposed to mean.

For me, womanhood is comprised of so many things, but most of all, it’s the gaining of wisdom and experience. It’s loving every aspect of both my body and my existence, even when it hurts, especially when it hurts, even when someone else believes I’ve made a mistake.

It’s learning how to overcome the traumas of childhood, of friendship betrayals, and teaching others how to overcome the same things. Because life is messy, emotions complicate things, but realizing at the end of the day, we’re all seeking the same thing: a little bit of attention and a whole lot of love for who we really are.

It’s so much more than what words could ever actually define.

My paternal grandmother died at the age of 84, surrounded by her children, but miserable because no one ever told her it was okay to grow old and enjoy her golden, greying years. No one told her it was okay to celebrate the aging process. No one told her that little girls were actually living, breathing, feeling, thinking human beings who could be so much more than the perfect dolls she and my aunts tried to make me and my cousins into, even though she saw it for herself. Seeing it is one thing. Believing is another.

Bleeding once a month was something never embraced. It was a nuisance to be endured.

These are all of the things I’m shedding from myself. Life might be messy, it might be dark, but embracing who I am and all of the messy bits that go with it are what I’m using to define myself as a woman.

For me, it’s an amazing concept, one that, upon having a daughter, I plan to instill in her so she knows that it isn’t men who define womanhood. It’s her.

#IAmNotADoll

Updates, Some Ranting, and Getting Back on Track!

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Okay, my lovelies, I have books that need to move as soon as possible. I will be seeking places to sell – I know of a couple of places where I simply need to talk to someone about getting set up – but otherwise my last round of paperbacks from CreateSpace are through me.
Here are the titles and prices
Portal to Gaming, $13.99
Sigyn’s Flowers, $9.99
The King and Queen of Wands, $8.99
The Sons of Thor, $17.99
Non-Tulsa residents, please let me know in advance that you are not in Tulsa. I will need to charge for shipping, based on your location. I will accept check or money orders as well as PayPal. Oklahoma residents, I do need to charge sales tax.
Tulsa residents, please drop me a line in the comments section, and I will make arrangements with you to finalize the sale. I accept cash and credit card payments. (Let me know in advance how you plan on paying so I can bring my Square Reader with me.)
Please like and share to help me spread the word. I have limited quantities, and I want to get paperback distribution up and running again through Lulu. I’ll be setting up a new PayPal account by the end of next week, too. My old account, I somehow got locked out of, and I’ve just never gotten it straightened out. The new one will be under this name, anyway.

Now that I’ve gotten that bit of business taken care of, it’s time for a few updates.

I recently spoke on expanding the Enchanted Realms Fiction page, not just the Facebook page but this blog as well. I mentioned doing videos, setting up something on YouTube. I recently decided to investigate a Plan B while I continued on with this writing career, which will involve schooling. All of this is going to require money and time, and I’ve recently gone back to my serving job at IHOP in order to make a few things happen. I’m also looking at leaving JCPenney before the holiday rush really starts to kick in and kick my ass once more. I did that last holiday season. I got the job at JCPenney on the recommendation of someone who is no longer speaking to me, at least for this moment in time, and I just can’t keep putting that energy into to just barely surviving, barely able to get out of bed in the mornings, especially for as little as I’m being paid there. I’m not leaving just yet – I have a few things I need to do before I put in my notice about when my last day is – but it will definitely be before Thanksgiving. I also, right now, make just a little under $9 an hour. Even if I had tried to make the retailer my primary source of income, it wouldn’t have worked. I can’t pay all of my bills on that, and I’m working on changing my attitude for while at IHOP. My serving job is going to be my springboard once more to get me to where I want to go, and I will need (and want) to focus more on getting my books written. That’s why I’m planning to exit JCPenney, as I said, before Thanksgiving.

Why before Thanksgiving? Because I will not get to see any family members for any given length of time if I stay at JCPenney. Last year, I was scheduled from 1 pm until 10 or 11 pm, and I didn’t walk out of the store until a few minutes after midnight. Even then, I had to literally run out the door before I got stuck there again. People commented that it just wasn’t right that I had to work that day, but, you know, if they actually were that concerned, they’d have kept their asses at home. If you’re going to complain that a holiday is a time to spend with family, stay at home and spend it with your family. Yes, I’m ranting a little bit about that. I’ll still be working at IHOP on Thanksgiving, but I’ll at least get to leave after a certain point and spend some time with my family and just rest once I’m done. And the plans I have for my life will also ensure that I get any days I want off to spend with my family, I will have off. A little bit more on that in just a moment.

Next month is also NaNo, and I’d like to try and participate in that again. No, I will not be starting a new project. If anything, I want to use it finish up a project or at least make a considerable dent. I’m pondering either Ravensrealm or Rune Stories for the moment. We’ll see. I still have until the end of this month to decide.

I’m just ready to channel my energy where I really want and need to channel it. That means letting go and possibly limping along for a little while. I can handle that, at least until I have enough money to move out onto my own or until I can find a better paying job, or both. I’m tired of being drained because my energy is tied up in the things that don’t really set my soul on fire.

One thing I’m looking forward to doing is actually spending more time on writing and on critiquing. I’m working on that foundation to keep building up this career, so I’ve made the return back to Scribophile, too. It’s the one site that did help me learn and grow as a writer. If I ultimately find I need to move on, I will, but I actually need to try first before I actually give up.

In terms of getting out there to promote, I’m gathering the funds necessary to register for a few local conventions in the Tulsa area. I will be aiming for Tokyo in Tulsa once more, and, if I’m able to do what I wish to do by the end of this month, I will be registered for it and the two sister conventions new to Tulsa next year. The first one is in February, and it’s called Crash-Landed. It’s a science-fiction and independent filmmaker convention, and I’m super stoked about this. I have a very good feeling about it! The other sister convention is called Heroic Tulsa. I can register for all three in one go. That’s going to be amazing!

I did check into one of the massage therapy schools here in Tulsa. While it would be beneficial for moving to a new city to take the classes while in Tulsa, it’s just not financially feasible at this time. I’ve made too many financial blunders to be able to afford the schooling – at any of the schools – and pay my bills. I’m not giving up on the idea. I’m simply postponing when and where I get started. I have to get myself back on track to get to where I need to go.

And, finally, I turned 41 on Monday! Happy birthday to me! I’m looking forward to making this next chapter of my life absolutely amazing!

It’s a weird entry, I know. I hope to expand on the journals themselves with other things beyond writing. I love food, and I’m interested in taking up gardening and other forms of crafting. Making candles, oils, and soaps for the retreat I want to create in the future has a certain appeal to it!

I’ll keep everyone posted on what’s happening!

Have a great weekend, my friends!

So Much!

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I have a lot on my mind that I want to cover for today. It could be quite the lengthy journal entry. It might not. It’s very hard to say.

Some of this, I am going to say right now, is pretty much geared towards one person. I know the chances of her actually reading this don’t actually exist. She’s made it clear, twice now, she has no intentions of learning more about me and allowing me to learn more about her. Staying in a particular comfort zone for friendships is a thing, but it’s also rather boring, at least for me. I’m the type of person I don’t care if we have a whole lot in common, if you have a good energy about you, I want to know you and hear your story.

Anyway, some of this is primarily for an audience of one. If she reads this, she’ll know who she is.

In regards to everything that happened in the past, so what. You received a few rejection letters from an agent. Less than a handful, if I remember correctly.

So what. Stephen King and J.K. Rowling received more than that before they were finally published the traditional way, and look at where they’re at now. Amanda Hocking received more than three rejection letters, kept on writing, and self-published everything she’d written. She became the first self-published author to earn a million dollars on Amazon. Publishing houses began to court her after that.

You’ve had a lot of people tell you the “right way” to gain publishing success, so much so, you bought into it, allowed them to douse the flames of your passion, allowed them to whip “the horse” to the point of being broken and nearly dead. You’ve started a few novels since then, but you’ve completed nothing. The fear you’ve allowed into your heart over the rejection, the verbal and mental abuse of the critique group, the idea you have to write something “marketable” has dictated to you that somehow you’d be a failure no matter. You didn’t get your instant gratification, like we’ve all become accustomed to receiving in this day and age. And, yes, I, too, have succumbed to instant gratification. How can I not? The internet is this amazing thing! Post a story to a website, a piece of art, a video, and it’s available, immediately, to millions of people. Everything we could ever want is available at the tips of our fingers, next day delivery sometimes guaranteed.

You wanted the traditional route over self-publishing. That route is filled with pain and determination. What would our world be like if every author who has published a story did so because they feared the rejection and the pain and humiliation that comes along with it? What would our lives be like if we didn’t have the magical, allegorical world of Harry Potter in which to entrench us and to teach us? What would our mental states be if we didn’t have the darkness that pours from the pages of Stephen King and Dean Koontz to confront us on the deepest, darkest aspects of our souls?

You don’t see self-publishing as real publishing yet every self-published author will tell you how thrilled they are to have copies of their books in their hands. Self-published is also not for the faint of heart, those seeking that instant gratification and success. It’s hard work. It puts the fate of your career in your own hands. It’s your chance to prove to the world that you can do this, that you are strong enough to handle this.

The flames only die, the horse only reaches death, when you allow it, when you stop feeding and nurturing the very things you claim to love and care about. Yes, take that criticism. Learn, grow, IMPROVE. Don’t take every negative remark to heart about how “lousy” your writing can be. Not everyone who leaves criticism has your best interest at heart, even if they claim otherwise.

Why, you might ask?

Because there is no clear path to success. The way there is filled with turns. Sometimes you have to trace backwards. It’s a mess of scribbles, blood, sweat, and tears, but the final product is well worth the sacrifices along the way. Because what has worked for one author may not necessarily work for you.

Now, I can’t make the decision to be a writer for you. For anyone. That’s something everyone must do some serious soul-searching on because writing is HARD WORK. It’s hours and hours of rough-drafting, second, third, editing out, revising, and loathing the process. It’s moments of hair-pulling stress and aggravation. If any tells you that they haven’t done such a thing, chances are, they’re either lying about being an author or just don’t care enough about what they’ve written to put the effort into the project. This path is not easy. And, yes, you need a day job before greater success comes your way, but there is always success in every little thing you did. You got a rejection letter? Great! What did that actually teach you? Did it fill you with dread and despair? Or are you going to decide to learn to do better? Are you going to decide to keep taking the chances on yourself and prove to the world that you are worth the time and investment?

A wise man once said we invest in what we value.

So, if you see this some day, maybe even today (I don’t know – again, while I hope that this person will see this, I do know she feels I am not worth the time of day), let me ask you this:

What are you going to do when the desire to create becomes too much? What happens when the strong desire to crank out something true and authentic to you overrides all of your senses? Are you going to kill those urges? Or are you going to listen to the voices of your guides, who truly know you better than me or anyone else on this planet, and follow your heart? If you are a positive thinker, negative thoughts about writing should not exist in your heart or your mind. Positive thinking chases out the negative. Warmth and love banish it even further.

I truly believe if you didn’t love to write, you wouldn’t have tried again. Chase away your fears. Silence the voices of your naysayers, and just write your blessed and beautiful stories.

Do this because it truly makes you happy. I know you’ve experienced the thrill and the rush of completing a story. Remember that. Draw that exhilaration into you, and use it as fuel to propel you forward!

Now for everyone else.

I have experienced from family the encouragement to do other things with my life. To pursue the more “practical” side because getting published was a long shot. It just didn’t happen to “ordinary” folks such as ourselves. Yet, if you stop and think about it, what was truly extraordinary about Stephen King? J.K. Rowling? Dean Koontz? Anne McCaffrey? Or any hundreds of authors out there who have been published? Was it luck?

Perhaps but not as nearly as much as we’d like to believe. Most of these authors were, at one point, ordinary folks. Just like you. Just like me. They, too, experienced rejection. Words of discouragement. Everything every artist has ever endured since humans started to veer away from artistic pursuits in favor of the office cubicle or industrial work, yet such people have still relied on the arts as a means to ease the mundaneness of their lives.

Remember my last entry where I spoke about what of my biggest influences for my life?

The Bangles. One of the biggest, most popular bands of the mid-1980s comprised of four women who learned how to make music, either by learning on their own or being taught by a family member. Four women who spent copious amounts of time practicing their craft, working out the kinks to lyrics, drumbeats, guitar chords, and keyboard arrangements.

What separates the wannabe author from the published author is the following: Grit, determination, faith in him/herself (self-doubt is present, too, don’t get me wrong on that) on his/her success, and a strong desire to succeed. I can tell you there is nothing like holding a copy of a book you’ve spent countless hours on. It’s such an indescribable sensation. It’s giddiness, it’s disbelief (is this actually real? Oh my gods, it’s real), and it’s just sheer . . . joy.

It doesn’t matter if the book comes from a traditional publisher, a hybrid publisher, or through a site like Lulu or CreateSpace. I will say that again. It doesn’t matter if the book comes from a traditional publisher, a hybrid publisher, or through a site like Lulu or CreateSpace. YOU WILL FEEL THAT JOY, THAT DISBELIEF, THAT EXCITEMENT. It can be your first book, your fifth, or your tenth. That happiness will always be with you, that testament to persevering, and accomplishing a goal. Everything else after will fall into place.

And, yes, you, as an author, will need someone to keep you in check – always believe yourself capable of learning and improving your craft; if you feel like you don’t need an editor or a critique group, you will fail – so here are some basic steps to help you improve.

1 – Find a critique group.
I’ve joined three, but I’ve only utilized one. Trust me, there are more out there, but the three that I know of are AbsoluteWrite, Critique Circle, and Scribophile. Critique Circle looks interesting, but I’ve not popped over there to use them just yet. I can’t give any testimonials for or against them.
AbsoluteWrite left a bad taste in my mouth (and was also the same site the person I spoke to utilized; her experiences were enough to make me wary, but I forged ahead anyway).
Scribophile is where I’ve had my success.
To beginning authors, I recommend joining the sites and hanging out in the forums. If a critique group gives you a negative vibe, listen to that and walk away. I don’t care if it’s Scribophile or some other group. Trust your instincts. You know where you’re going to have your success at by gauging how the older members of the groups interact with the newer members. Mind you, some of the older members can be bitchy and will give inane advice on “be grateful for anything you get because you’re not owed anything” but trust yourself in that you know what works best in improving your work. If you don’t know what type of critiques will work for you, you soon will. I discovered at Scribophile that I detested other people rewriting my sentences for me. Why? Because it didn’t teach me how to rewrite sentences for myself. The critiquer in question wasn’t allowing me to use my own critical thinking and creative skills by coming up with the solution for me. (If someone’s doing line editing for you, too, they’re also not taking into consideration that the line they’ve spent some time on editing for you may end up deleted. That is the painful part of editing – deciding what’s no longer working and cutting it loose.) Striking out the things they thought were unnecessary and not saying as much is also an aggravation. Truth, I’m looking for content, cohesion, flow, character development, and overall flow. Mechanics mean nothing if your story’s content is utter shit.
Don’t be afraid to say what it is you’re looking for in a critique, okay? However, if someone tries to focus on the story but can’t because of bad mechanics, fix those errors and try again! You have no idea how much bad mechanics can ruin a story. If someone tries to tell you that a certain critiquing style is the only way they can be effective, gently remind them that effectiveness is in the eye of the beholder. We all learn what works best for us!

If you can’t find a critique group, create one. Don’t be afraid to critique, either. I’ve found my skills as a writer improving when I take the time to actually critique someone else’s work. I find where I get repetitious or overuse words.

Never underestimate that value!

2 – Set aside the time to actually write and some daily goals.
Writing is just like going to a regular job. If you don’t show up, you don’t get paid.
Simple.

3 – Build your audience.
We’re in the lovely age of technology so building an audience before you query out or self-publish is a good thing! I wish I would have taken a bit more time to build up more of a prospective audience by the time I’d published Portal to Gaming.

4 – Be prepared to promote and write at the same time.
Unless you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, whose names sell for themselves, you’re going to be spending as much time promoting yourself and expanding your audience base as you are writing. Even if you go the traditional route.

5 – Don’t just pick up pen and paper (or open that word document) to write. Know what you like!
This is actually something I’ve seen happen a few times in some group on Facebook. A new person joins, they want to write a book, but they don’t know what to write about. This problem can actually be oh so easily avoided by knowing what it is you like to read about. That’s what you’re doing as a writer. You’re writing the stories that YOU want to read. I can’t pick the type of story for you to tell. I can only pick the stories that I want to tell.

I’m keeping it simple here. There’s more you can do, but you have to decide what it is you want to do. This is simple preparation. It’s up to you, the unpublished author, the “I’m testing the waters” author, as to what you want to do and how you want to get there.

One thing I look forward to doing upon either getting into a larger room in this new house or upon moving out of this house (whichever is likely to happen first) is creating a writing atmosphere. Being science-fiction and fantasy, I would love to have dragon, wizard, and unicorn figurines decorating my small but wonderful writing desk. Yeah. I’m not going after the behemoth Stephen King had, the one that took up an entire room. I actually love my little writing desk that I have right now. It’s just doing dual work of writing and spiritual. (And both are a bit one in the same for me, too. My only problem is the number of my Oracle decks and rune sets keep expanding! I need a different table for them! LOL)

To the person I initially spoke to at the start – I wish you the best of luck. If you were to publish your first two novels in two weeks to Kindle and to other PoD sites, you’d have enough in sales to make everything worth it. You’re the only one who can truly determine whether or not you’re a failure. Not me. Not the rest of the world. Success is how we define it!

Moving forward.

In regards to Ravensrealm, I’m debating if the current fight I’ve engaged my party in is going to be part of the final chapter of the book or if I’m going to keep pushing forward to the questing group’s final destination. I have a feeling a few things are going to be cut.

And that’s okay!

In the meantime, I have a notebook and a pen to retrieve.

Please check out my ebooks at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
https://www.amazon.com/Victorea-Ryan-Meadow/e/B00MQF33K6
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Victorea%20Ryan%20Meadow%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall

Making Some Additions to Enchanted Realms

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Hello there once again, my friends! It’s been a busy month, September has. I’ve recently finished reading a few non-fiction titles that are helping me to reshape my life as it is – trust me, it’s been a mess for many years, and I’m now cutting away what’s no longer serving me – and I’m solidifying on a few other concepts.

For sure, I will still be writing. In fact, one of the things I’ll be working on today is setting up a foundation for myself on how to be better at writing. One thing for sure is I need to get myself into the habit of writing daily. I’m learning a lot about some of the characters that have come to me through writing, and it’s just . . . amazing and breathtaking. One thing I will be doing is making it a nightly habit for live feeds. You can catch up with the live feeds on my Enchanted Realms Fiction page on Facebook. I’ve provided the link below along with other sites where you can find me along with the Enchanted Realms Fiction page. Please like and follow because that’s where I will be doing updates on upcoming publications and events. (I will be posting such things here as well, along with sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.) I have a creative streak that knows no bounds, and writing is one way for me to channel that.

I’ve decided to go back to school for massage therapy and to take a few Reiki courses. I have a nebulous idea for starting a writing/spiritual retreat in the mountains of Colorado over the next few years. I need to get to one of the colleges that teaches massage therapy and get myself set up to start taking the courses. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I’m good at giving massages, and this will help me land in something that actually pleases me. I love helping others to heal, and positive touch is one such way to heal. (This will also free up more time for me to pursue the writing. I’m currently limping along working in retail and doing one other thing, and I’m dissatisfied with both. I prefer learning and growing environments above all others so creating a retreat is right up my alley.) I’m excited about this prospect.

I’ve also decided that I want to expand on what I do with Enchanted Realms. I want to do more than just write books to tell my stories. I want to create videos so people can watch them. I want to keep on creating, to see that the words I put down, the images I present to those who watch, and I want to make sure that everything I do somehow heals those who need that healing. It sounds crazy, I know, but I do believe in the power of creativity. I believe in the power of healing. I was fourteen when I first read The Lord of the Rings, but, in looking back at it, in remembering how much I cried that first time when Frodo left Middle-Earth behind, I realize that it’s an insanely powerful metaphor about healing, about realizing that something within us has changed, and that it’s okay to accept that change. That’s how we grow and how we heal. And it’s amazing that words on paper, images on a screen, amazing that all of that can teach us those things without us even realizing it.

Now this expansion will take me a while. My life is still in transition from this move, and it’s taken me a few weeks and some personal readings for better insight to get this far. I also know that I could moan and whine about having to go back to school for what I’m considering my back up plan, but I’ve also realized that we are meant to do more in this life than just be one thing. As a wise woman once told me (and recently at that), we are born with more than one talent. I personally have been blessed with a knack for healing, for writing, and for singing. (And for cooking and baking and with a tremendous amount of courage to go and try new things, even when it seems scary at first.) And, while I have an amazing computer in Viking (Thor, my first laptop, is in need of some repairs and TLC), he may not have everything I need in terms of space to do editing. I don’t have everything I want or need to start creating my own videos (which will appear on YouTube when the dust settles even further), so there’s a lot I need to learn and experiment with first. (I have limited space at this point, too, so elaborate setups are currently out of the question.)

Finally, I want to write a little bit on grit and determination. If you’ve followed me on this blog or have known me for any given length of time, you know I’ve cited the Bangles as my all-time favorite musical group. I’ve been a fan since I first heard “Manic Monday” on the radio back in May of 1986. I have so many reasons to admire them and to be inspired by them.

The main reason is THEY NEVER GAVE UP. They practiced their craft. They worked day jobs to get by, and they played in clubs whenever they could. They wanted to make music. They wanted to hear their songs on the radio. They could have stopped after hearing their music on college radio, but they didn’t. This was during a time when female musicians were still thought of as novelty acts.

I recently reflected on all of this. I have many heroes throughout my life – my mother for standing up for herself, the Bangles for following their dreams, to name a few (and there are others, too) – but the Bangles are the only ones who have demonstrated grit and determination to me. Mind you, there are others out there who have as well, but I haven’t followed them as ardently as I have the Bangles. Because of them, I wanted to be a musician. And I may still take that up at some point, too. Only time will tell.

If you’re out there, wondering why you should continue with writing, please remember that it takes time. I still need to remind myself of that when things don’t happen fast enough for me or when I can barely crank out five words to something. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes grit and determination and, yes, a day job in the meantime. A handful of rejections only defines your failure if you allow it. Everyone thinks of giving up. It takes strength to keep going, to keep nurturing those dreams when the rest of the world will tell you to quit. The only one who can allow the world to douse the flames of what sets your soul on fire is YOU.

Be strong. Be brave. Keep fighting the good fight. Without the creative souls, life would be dreary indeed!

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Books recently read: The Women’s Wheel of Life by Elizabeth Davis and Carol Leonard; The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz; Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman