The Art of Rejection

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Today, I want to take about a friend of mine that I met while staying in an emergency shelter in Philadelphia. His name is Mr. Leslie Boon. This is also an entry on saying “no” and what it means to be rejected.

Les was one of the first people I befriended in the University City area of Philadelphia. I learned a lot about Les, his past, and what it was like for black people growing up in the projects. Les is a native of Philadelphia, and someone who I could talk to and share more than a few laughs with when things weren’t always the greatest. We even talked about story ideas. We hung out a lot, and this is where things will sound interesting to people.

For starters, I was never attracted to Les. He was a friend, but he wasn’t someone I wanted to date. Not that he wasn’t a good person, but he just wasn’t my type. He knew that and accepted it. This is proof that two people of different genders and different backgrounds can be friends with no strings attached.

This, however, didn’t stop some of the women we came across from giving me the dirtiest of looks when we hung out at the library or Suburban Station. I rarely caught them because, well, quite honestly, I wasn’t paying any attention to these women or the looks they’d give me. I wasn’t there to impress anyone, just trying to keep out of the weather and not get sick. Les did catch these dirty looks, and he’d tell me about it. Heck, he went off on someone for shooting me dirty looks. Come to find out these women didn’t like me hanging around a black man. Les would tell me I’m not a hideous-looking person. Heck, he’d tell me I was quite beautiful and that I had a very beautiful, generous heart, and these women didn’t necessarily like it. Les, after all, wasn’t an ugly person, either.

These women, instead of gathering up the courage to ask Les if he was available, assumed that I was his girlfriend and would never bother to approach him. I can’t be 100% certain that they did want to date him. It’s just a guess on my part due to receiving the dirty looks in the first place.

In talking about this with Les, I pointed out the one thing that has become very predominant in our society. We’re scared of rejection so we don’t bother because we don’t want to be told “no”. Never mind that rejection is necessary for all kinds of mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. Never mind that sometimes “no” is what we need to hear. We always want things to go our way, to be the way that we want them, and for people to, not necessarily bow to our every whim, but be something that perhaps that they’re not meant to be.

I understand that “no” is going to be an answer I get 50% of the time, be it asking someone for a sandwich or a date, applying for a job opening, or when I send out query letters to potential publishers. Heck, most of the time I expect to be told “no”. That doesn’t mean I’m a horrible person. It just means that someone doesn’t want to share their food or find me interesting enough or maybe I’m just not qualified for the job or my story needs improvement. It just means that I brush the dust from my shoulders and either buy a sandwich for myself or find someone who does find me interesting. It juts means I don’t give up because I was told “no”. It isn’t the end of the world. Yeah, it’s very disheartening when “no” is the answer I receive more often than not, but it still isn’t the end of the world. Someone out there will be the right fit.

And, yes, in terms of writing, I am a self-publishing author. I have, for now, circumvented the whole potential for rejection. It’s not easy by far. All of the work has fallen on me to promote, to edit, and to find a cover artist for each story. It’s my way of testing the waters for publication, and I still retain the potential for rejection when the time comes to find a publishing house.

Even published authors experience rejection.

Until the next time, my friends, and remember “no” is sometimes necessary as an answer. Don’t fear it.

Time Traveler

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If I could be a time traveler, there are many points in history I’d love to go. There are key events I’d want to see unfold, as painful and as devastating as they might be. I’d preserve ancient texts from every civilization before major religions came along and perverted them. If I thought I could get away with it and not alter the course of history, I’d speak to the likes of Jesus and George Washington.

On a pop culture note, I’d record every episode of Doctor Who. I’d go to every Bangles and Beatles concert, find out what actually happened with Marilyn Monroe and learn if Elivs is truly dead. I’d get Dale Earnhardt’s autograph for my mother. I’d go to Roswell, New Mexico, around the time of the UFO landing.

Most of all, I’d look for the mystical creatures we once believed in as a human race – faeries, unicorns, centaurs . . . Sounds crazy, I know, and probably like I’ve been reading one too many fantasy novels. Maybe I have, but the truth about me is this: I do believe in such things. I believe in the wonders of magic, and I’d love to visit the times when humans were more open to the wonders of the world around them. We get so wound up in things like what’s happening in the world, what’s happening in our communities, and our jobs that we’ve stopped taking the time to enjoy the wonders that do surround us. I can sit here and tell you there are drawbacks to country living as well as the bonuses for it. I can enjoy warm, sunny weather without people gaping at me as they walk by. I can’t walk to the library or to the store as often as I’d like, but I have a serenity, a chance to commune with nature and connect with the miracles and magic that surround me. It’s absolutely wonderful in that respect. So yes, I would go back to the ancient days and look for the mythical creatures people say nowadays don’t exist.

Now for some shout-outs!

A long overdue shout of congratulations to Ash Litton! She published a short story to Amazon Kindle over a year ago, and it’s titled “Thoroughbred”. I had the opportunity to critique this piece on Scribophile, and it’s definitely a very interesting take on unicorns. Want something different? Try Ash’s “Thoroughbred”.

Second shout-out of congratulations to Lita Stone and Max Redford for publishing “Mark of the Beast”. From what I was able to read on Scribophile, this is a very unique blend of Christian horror and urban fantasy. This is one I’d definitely get for my book collection.

Third, congratulations to Edi Cruz on her first novel being picked up by a publisher. I need to check with her on the details, but I know she’s very talented and another author I would add to my library collection.

Finally, I want to give shout-outs of encouragement to Sarah Burman for her involvement with the Pagan community and in fighting for more sustainable living. Sarah is one of the busies women I’ve ever met, working, growing and canning her own food, and raising two children. Also to Kami Simon, my best friend and partner in fictional crime for fighting for a better place to live and being a voice of reason. I may not agree with everything she says, but that’s the beauty of it. We at least know each other’s points and reasons for why we make the decisions we do and can respect them at the end of the day.

Congratulations and keep up the good fight, my friends! Until the next time!

A game

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Hello, my writerly friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe weekend. Everything on my end was relatively quiet and productive in a few ways, though not as much as I would have liked. Such is the way of life.

I’m not sure if I’ve every played this game on this journal. If I have, I apologize in advance.

You see, I maintain a few different online journals. At least, I try to. Since my old Ironhide died a few years ago, my computer access became limited in many ways. Internet access even more so right now.

Anyway, one journal I maintain and am trying to breathe life into is called The Star Ocean Universe. If you’re unfamiliar with Star Ocean, it’s a series of video games that deal with interplanetary travel. The creators of the game have allegedly claimed Star Trek as inspiration, which I’m a little inclined to believe. There are definitely some Star Trek-like elements to each game!

Star Ocean deals with a post World War III Earth at various points in time. Once mankind has achieved interstellar travel, the years go from being A.D. to S.D. Game One is set some two or three hundred years after initial exploration, Game Two twenty years after Game One. Game Three, the one that drew me in, is set in the year 772 S.D., and Game Four is the progenitor of the first three.

Game Four, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, is the trigger for this game I would like to play. You see, Game Four is set a generation after the end of World War III, where a lot of things we currently take for granted (books, music, food, plants, oceans, etc . . .) no longer exist. Because World War III isn’t just any war. It’s a nuclear war, one that takes out national monuments and large chunks of the human population. As an author, I know precisely how fragile my works are. Without computers and things like tablets and e-readers, my digital copies for sale no longer exist. Other forms, like paperbacks and audio books, if I had them, can be destroyed by things like water and fire. Preserving them can be tricky enough without the benefit of a war. Toss in bombs and gunfire and hatred, they don’t stand a chance.

So that leaves me with the question I’d like to ask my friends and followers of this blog: If you could, what would you preserve about mankind? Would it be the photographs of family and friends? What books would you horde? What movies would you want future generations to see? What kinds of music? How far into the Earth would you bury these precious things so those who survive World War III or some other apocalyptic event can have some idea of what life in our times is like?

As an author, I naturally would want to preserve my own works on top of some of my favorite stories. I would hope some of the technology we have now survives so that anyone can access e-books and digital music. Yeah, this is tooting my own horn a little, but there is the thought that if it doesn’t survive, if people in years to come can’t enjoy what I’ve created, then there’s no point in continuing, no point in writing more, and I may as well just become a drudge worker in a factory or fast food restaurant until I die. And, yes, there are recent world events that have sparked this train of thought, driving into my heart the truth of just how fragile something like a book or a music CD really is. Enduring time means nothing if a piece can’t endure anger, fear, and hatred. So, yes, I would preserve my own works along with copies of classics like Moby Dick and Little Women and The Three Musketeers and The Lord of the Rings. I’d preserve my stories along with mainstream stories like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. I’d tuck them neatly away with flash drives filled with the sounds of the Beatles, the Bangles, and the Rolling Stones and movies like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Annie – the one with Tim Curry and Carol Burnett. I’d preserve history as I live it in the forms of journals and photographs.

You see, not only have I lost entire chunks of story before – anyone remember me writing about my lessons of NaNo 2012? – but pictures of family and of my childhood. I’ve lost gifts from my late grandmother, things I can’t really reclaim by going out and finding new ones.

So what would you preserve if you knew in advance the years World War III takes place? What would you say about life right now so that future generations know how cushy you have it and how hard you have it?

What memories would you preserve?

Fun in the Kitchen

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Over the weekend, my grandmother wasn’t feeling the greatest. She’s in her 80s, my grandpa is in his 80s, and my uncle who lives with us (more like I moved back in with them) had to work. Someone in the house had to cook, and Friday night, a few ideas were sparking in my head about potential recipes.

Yes, I love to cook. I love to bake, too, and, on Friday, my grandma had made her rendition of goulash. I still call it macaroni, but I digress. As she’d prepared dinner that night, she cooked too much elbow macaroni. I don’t know why, but, that evening, as I was laying in bed, my mind raced with different ideas for recipes. All of them involved pizza toppings, pizza sauce, and different types of pasta noodles, and I really do love to play in the kitchen. I’ve made an excellent potato-chicken-leek soup on a first try. Saturday, I put myself to the test and tossed together the following:

1 pound Italian sausage

3-4 pieces of bacon, sliced

a remaining package of pepperoni

some leftover Prego Fresh Mushroom spaghetti sauce*

minced garlic

garlic powder

oregano

basil

Italian seasoning blend

onion powder

pepper

leftover cooked elbow macaroni

shredded mozarella

Slice the bacon. Then, in a large frying pan, cook bacon and Italian sausage until both are fully cooked. No oil or butter is needed. Add in minced garlic then sauce and macaroni. Add in seasonings to taste. When everything is warm, toss in pepperoni and cook until the pepperoni is warm. Plate and sprinkle cheese on top.

Note: No salt is needed due to the sausage, pepperoni, and bacon. I made the mistake of not tasting everything before adding a little bit more – my uncle had made spaghetti a day or two before, and the sauce was just wretched, flavorless. My dish, as a result, was a little too salty for both me and my uncle. Also, I got away with this being a one-pan dish due to the macaroni being cooked ahead of time. It tasted good, I really quite wowed myself on this, and I call it a pizza pasta toss. However, I don’t expect anyone to be quite so lucky in trying to re-create this dish. A little extra leg work is required in cooking the macaroni. Also, I used what was in the refrigerator for the sauce so it wouldn’t go to waste. Next time will probably see me making my own.

I’ve already made nachos for everyone. Next month, I’m aiming for homemade spaghetti, burritos, and (hopefully) chicken enchiladas.

Fizzy Lemonade

This is a fun spin on a summertime favorite. Take your favorite way to make lemonade – be it a powdered, ready to go version or with lemon juice and sugar – and, instead of adding water, mix it with club soda. Add sliced up fresh berries, lime, or lemon for extra flavor. I love making this for the Fourth of July.

How to Make Straightforward Characters Interesting

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How to make the most straightforward of characters interesting. How does one do this? I ask because that’s one thing I’m discovering about a few of my characters as I forge ahead with the Arc of Fantasy series. This is going to be something of a challenge for me as I work out some of the kinks in The Sons of Thor. Why? Because I’ve realized most of the characters are straightforward. They’re not the ones that are good at keeping secrets or at hiding their guilt because they weren’t raised that way. They try to overcompensate in trying to be sneaky and devious because doing so goes against their nature. They’re not necessarily complex. It’s like they have no reason to be complex.

Or do they? How does one add complexity to non-complex characters? The answer is in their actions, in what they’re trying to accomplish when they’re going against their usual honest nature, be it trying to trick another person or to deceive. Why is the character going against his/her usual self? What does this character hope to gain by doing this? Can straightforward characters even grow and develop? I believe with the right situations, the right catalysts, that, yes, a straightforward character can grow.

Writing fiction is as much a study of psychology as it is a form entertainment.

So, what am I going to do about adding the complexity to my straightforward characters? The answers are in the questions I’ve already posed. After all, even straightforward characters have everything to lose when the world is in turmoil.

Until the next time, my friends!

One Bumpy Ride

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This past week has proven that I can be quite emotional wreck from time to time. Some days I was up. Some days I was down. I’d say I was the full gamut, but I wasn’t exactly indifferent or flat out beligerent about anything so the full gamut would be a lie. I’ve definitely been something of a babblefish and long-winded. Some of what I’ve written about has been part of my personal journey. It wasn’t just about the financial burdens of a poor woman or even the struggles of a homeless woman. It’s been about the emotional and the spiritual as well. It’s about becoming a stronger woman, an enriched woman, and I only want to continue with that. I don’t want to keep going through life questioning what I want and who I am. This whole experience keeps bringing all of it to light, and I’d been only scratching a little at the surface.

I am my own worst enemy. I tend to be very harsh on myself, considering myself to be lazy when a lot of that is now no longer a part of who I am. Yeah, I still consider myself to be lazy, especially when it comes to looking for an actual job, but I’m not sitting around being idle, either. The Sons of Thor was almost completely on paper until the end of last week, when I finished typing up chapter nine and started on ten. That was a grand total of 58 pages of typing to be done and most of it was completed within the last week. And I hate to say it, but the story hasn’t reached its culmination point. The transcribing process ate away at the creativity and sparked some of the dialogue I boasted about earlier in the week. I have favorite characters. What can I say?

And I’m also at the point where, if I don’t want to wait for someone to take me somewhere, I just start walking. Yeah, it’s out in the country, it’s going to take me at least half an hour to get anywhere, but I’m doing something and I’m not complaining about it. I’m taking charge of what I know I need to do whereas, before I left Michigan, I whined and bemoaned the lack of transportation I had to do what I needed to do. I can only go up and forward from here. This is positive movement. Still do have to contend with other people worrying about my weight and me losing more, but I’m gaining strength. I am defending, not just my weight but the way I dress in the best way I can without being a bitch to the person stating the worry. No one is going to take action for me. No one can live my life for me.

I feel like I’m a happier person now than what I was at this time last year, all personal, emotional, and spiritual issues aside. As a writer, this has been a great experience for me because I’ve actually experienced some growth. I’ve experienced quite a bit of growth. I’ve learned some very hard and painful lessons. I’ve cried more in the last six months than I have in years, and I hate to cry. But I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences for anything. We cannot enjoy the day if we have no night. We cannot know true triumph if we don’t taste the bitterness of defeat.

I haven’t given up on myself. I question a lot of things right now, but I haven’t given up. I just need to lick my wounds and come back stronger than ever.

Have no idea what I’m going to write about this upcoming week. Should be good, though!!

Until tomorrow!!

This Year’s Publication Goals

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I sincerely hope these wacky fonts appear in these journal entries. If not, ah well! I at least have them on my computer! Ha ha!

This is going to be a fun and interesting year for me. In addition to freebie story, the Arc of Fantasy series, and the yet to be titled Norse/Greek fusion series, I am sincerely hoping to be publishing Frost Giants and Dragon’s Rain this year along with a third full length novel. I really am going to have to balance my time a lot better than what I have, and, when I start working, really set aside the time to do the necessary writing, critiquing, and revising to get everything done.

I do realize that I may not get the stand alone novels published this year. These are goals. These are things I need to be flexible with. What I don’t get published in 2015 will be published in 2016. In addition to e-books, I’m aiming for paperback and audio book publication. I’ve been holding off because I want to be a control freak about this and have 100% control over the ISBNs. While I haven’t messed with Barnes and Noble’s printing option like I have with Amazon’s CreateSpace, I’m not putting all of my publishing eggs into one basket. Add into this mayhem, moving away from Cadillac (again; it’s a nice little town but it isn’t for me), attempting to attend at least ONE convention (Otakon is at the top; if not Otakon then YoumaCon in October) if not three total, creating cosplays of established fandom characters AND my own, of promoting my work at these conventions and in other locations, and trying to get better at sewing, knitting, and crocheting so I can sell little geek oddity items on sites like etsy, and you’re talking one very busy Elise. I know. It’s almost halfway through May! I better start cracking that whip, huh?

And here is the wonderful thing about all of this: Thanks to a book I read back in October, a book that I want to read again, all of this is possible. Why? Because I am, I am going to be, and I will be breaking away from the old ways of thinking. It is no longer, “I don’t have the time”. It is I have all the time I need to do what I want and what I need. This is the truth. I have all the time I need to do what I want and what I need. It is so liberating to realize this. Everything I want to do in my life is now possible because I’m changing the way I think. I want to write and to publish and to promote. I want to work to support myself until the writing career takes off. I want to work so I can move away from Cadillac. I want the time to get a few things about myself figured out, to become the Wiccan/Pagan/Norse Priestess that I know I am, so I can move forward with my life, to let the past be what it needs to be: a guide of what to no longer do and nothing more. I want a job so I can work towards starting the businesses I’ve dreamt of starting. I want a job so I can travel to the conventions, across the U.S. and to Europse and Japan. I want to go back to school because I love school, I love learning. I want a nice place to live and to have a garden. I want to have some cats, because I really miss having cats around, and I want to have a family of my own. I want children. I want to be happy and secure in myself. It’s still going to take some doing, reminding myself of this, but the possibilities for my life are now endless. I can pull myself out of this slump I’m in, I can be the beacon of love, hope, and encouragement I long for in my life.

And I can bring about the change I know is needed, not only in my life but in this world. My homelessness has taught me many things. I’m still not entirely sure how I can go about changing the way things are for the homeless. I’ve got a few more issues about that I need to work through, especially from what I endured in Philadelphia, but all things are possible.