Where to Begin: How to Start your Novel, Screenplay or other Creative Writing Project (and plan it through to the end) IN ONE WEEKEND!

Michelle was an old friend from high school (and no, I am not referring to myself in third person). I didn’t know her all that well since she was older and therefore cooler than I was, but we went to a small school where everyone kinda knew everyone, which made our high school reunions much more fun than most.

So when she asked me to lead a writer’s workshop/retreat at her home, I agreed only because of our long connection, and because I really needed a weekend away with the girls.

Little did I know that nearly two years later she would include me in the dedication to her first novel, and how much that would come to mean to me. In fact, I believe it’s the next step in my evolution as an author—to give back, to help others tell their story in their own way by sharing my process.

So here it is, how I do it. It’s by no means the best way or the “right” way to begin the hard but intensely rewarding path of getting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, but it’s one way to stop talking about it and get to work. Because if it really is THAT important to you to “someday” write your book, then you’ll find a way. Make it today. Or a weekend when you’ll likely have more time. Three days is all I ask.

Friday: Gather your materials/Make your introductions
I’ve read a ton of “how to write” books, but my personal favorites and those most instrumental in helping me with actual structure are “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler, “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder, and “What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers,” by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter.

Once you’ve assembled your “how to” arsenal, grab your journal (hopefully you already have one if you have writing aspirations) and your favorite books by authors you hope to emulate.

Now grab your coffee or wine or water, depending on your personal preferences and the time of day, and start scanning. No, don’t READ it all, just let your eyes wander over the first few pages of these materials and get your brain warmed up, no expectations. Go through past journal entries and see what “issues” come up, the conflicts and themes that surface in your life experiences, or if you haven’t been writing these down, take the time now to contemplate this and make a new journal entry. What are your deepest fears and desires? What dilemma have you been grappling with, either secretly or publicly? What is the ONE single idea that you can’t let go of, that haunts you day and night until you MUST WRITE IT DOWN?

That’s your book…or movie, whatever the medium. Write at the top of your first blank page:
Project Title:
Genre:
Date:
Theme:

Now either take a walk, do some sort of yoga or dance or exercise, or if this took you all day and you’re tired, listen to a meditation CD or soft music and GO TO SLEEP.

Saturday:

Get up early. Or not. Personally, I am not a morning person, but that’s ironically when my mind is at its most freshest (Is that a word? Probably not, but I’m not awake yet). I am the type of person who stumbles to the coffee pot before doing ANYTHING, take my morning constitutional while I read the aforementioned “research” books and check my email, before plopping my butt in my chair to begin my “work.” Some days the words just flow, other days, not so much. But more on that later.

Your first order of the day is to look at the theme you wrote last night and create a main character. Turn to page 46 of “What If?” and create your protagonist’s back story. Just go to town with the details, make him or her really come alive! Don’t get all anal with this either—you can always change it later. Feel free to base some of this on yourself or traits from people you know. My characters are usually a hodge-podge of different people in my life, but it’s pretty funny when people just ASSUME you are talking about THEM.

Resist the urge to make this all about YOU. And if it is indeed a true story about someone you know, make sure you have their permission, and be prepared to pay them.

In addition to your character’s name, age, looks, quirks, etc., make sure to include the thing your character WANTS THE MOST. And if you’re not sure, then go take a walk. Or a shower. Or do something ELSE until it comes to you.

However, be sure to come back to this. Tell someone else (spouse, roommate, cat?) about your hero/heroine. Describe them like they are a real person, and then go all crazy and LET THEM TALK TO YOU. Soon, you’ll be hearing their voice in your head and if you don’t write it down people will start to wonder about you…

Eat breakfast or lunch, take a little break, then sit back at your desk. Resist the urge to check your email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Spend your afternoon creating a workable outline. One way to do this is to turn to page 8 of “Writer’s Journey” and type in the hero’s journey. Or visit http://www.blakesnyder.com , click on “Tools” and download his “Beat Sheet.” Both of these outlines will work for either a fiction novel or screenplay. If you wish to write a non-fiction book, that’s a whole different blog.

Now close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and SEE what is the very first image that comes to mind?

Take a few minutes to free write that down in your journal. No worries about punctuation and grammar at this stage in the game. You can fix that later. For now, just describe your mind’s image in detail, and from this little exercise will come either your first chapter or opening scene.

Time for a break. I’m a big fan of these. In my world, there’s no such thing as getting stuck or having writer’s block. It just means it hasn’t come to you yet, and you need to make a little space for the thoughts to become clear. Writing is a lot like exercise in that it’s tough in the beginning, but if you do a little every day it gets easier and easier. You don’t have to write it all at once, just like you wouldn’t train for a marathon all in one day. Start small, stop trying to envision the whole enchilada, and take small, manageable bites.

When you come back to your chair, it’s time to either research your ideas on the internet (YES! Finally!) or do a few of the suggested exercises in the “What If?” book or read your favorite books. Then, take the rest of the night off and do something FUN and social. It’s Saturday night!

Sunday:
Wake up early. Or not. Ha ha!
Resist the urge to read the newspaper. It’s all bad news. Trust me, I’m a recovering journalist.
Look over your notes from the day before and begin to fill in the details. For example: Chapter 1: Ordinary World
If you don’t know what this means, ready Chris Vogler’s first few chapters. Then culling from your main character’s backstory, write where he or she is coming from. It has to start somewhere. Later on, if this part sucks, you can always throw it out and start at Chapter 2. I do this often.
Or, if you’re writing a screenplay, read the first few chapters of “Save the Cat” and begin your “Set Up.” Start with FADE IN in Final Draft or some such program (or you can format it as a Word doc), and INT. or EXT. SETTING-DAY OR NIGHT- MAIN CHARACTER does this and wears that, etc. and READY, SET, GO!

Write for as long as you can. I don’t like to make myself write for X number of minutes or X number of pages per day. You may need that, but I don’t like to set myself up for disappointment. Some days I write pages and pages, others I only write a paragraph. Or a sentence, even. But at least it’s something.
On days it just doesn’t flow I do more research. I read what I wrote on other days and edit. I go for longer walks and take hotter showers. I exercise, meet a friend for lunch or coffee, pay attention to what they’re saying and listen to the people around me for ideas. I take notes.
And then, when the spirit moves me again, I sit in my chair and make myself do it. I treat it like a real job with the proper respect. If your boss told you to sit at your desk and do a project you wouldn’t whine and not do it. Or maybe you would, too much, and then you’d probably get fired. So sit until you get a least SOMETHING down on the page, and if you find you’re super inspired that day, cancel everything you can and make time for your passion!

So there you have it, my writing practice in a nutshell. From here on out you need a plan. If you have a “day” job, and I highly suggest you do unless you’re independently wealthy already, then you need to find a time when you can write every day. Or, find a more flexible job like I did (massage and yoga) where you still get paid enough for survival while you fuel your writing habit. And write because it’s FUN, remember? Not for the money, and if you’re extremely lucky, someday you MAY get paid for it. But this shouldn’t be the motivation, more like the icing on the cake.

When you get about half way through, you may be tempted to quit. You may hear that insistent asshole voice inside that criticizes, judges, ridicules you and makes you ask who the hell do you think you are, trying to write a book or movie? We all struggle with this itty-bitty-shitty committee, the duck on our shoulder quacking away at us. My advice? (I learned this from my chorus.) Tell it to shut the DUCK up! And start to tell everyone you know that you are a writer, because you ARE! This took me years, even after I was published, to get the courage to call myself a writer. But here’s the thing, if you are brave enough to even write one word then you have my permission to call yourself a writer. Own it.

And once you complete your masterpiece, put it in a drawer and let it simmer for a few weeks. Smile, brag on Facebook if you must, maybe go on holiday. Then sit your butt back down in the chair for the big rewrite, because that’s where the real work begins. Go get a book on rewriting, because this is a blog only on getting started. You can also pay people to help you edit. But please make for damn sure your manuscript is CLEAN and ready before you even think about sending it out for publication. Write, Re-write, Re-write AGAIN, and repeat. Just like shampoo.

I hope this helps. Keep believing in yourself and your story. Don’t listen when the world thinks you’re nuts for following your heart against all odds. I have written four books and two screenplays now, and I’m almost finished with my third script (yay!). Three books were published, one sucked so bad I shelved it, and the two completed screenplays are still unsold to date. But it doesn’t matter. I still have hope. Every day I write, I exercise, I play, I take long showers, I imagine and create. Then I repeat.

Life doesn’t get any better than this.

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The End of the World

A glorious thing happened last night when I was singing Christmas Carols with my chorus prior to a Nutcracker ballet performance.

I messed up.

And nothing happened.

In fact, I’m not too sure too many people noticed, aside from those I made a gut-reaction response face to.

This is a wondrous miracle because I’m a self-proclaimed perfectionist. Last year, when I first started singing in public I was terrified. Of what? I ask myself now. Judgment, perhaps? Making a fool of myself? I’m not really sure.

Singing is something I do just for the pure joy of it, yet I get caught up in trying too hard, and my overly analytical monkey mind chimes in to point out the many ways I still suck at it.

When I was a little girl, and I do mean little—I’m small boned and short—I got teased by well-intentioned family members that I have a deep voice. So I never believed I had any singing talent, yet I yearned in my heart to do so. I also, believe it or not, stayed quiet most of the time because I was overshadowed by some pretty big egos—no blame intended.

The fact is, that same trait makes me a good bass, and I love being a part of a singing group. Still, it takes me way beyond my comfort zone. Last night I wasn’t as nervous as the year prior simply because of experience, and also because I was allowed to hold my music in front of me.

But when an unexpected situation arose that crowded us in so tight I had no room to hold up my music, I was forced to sing without it. A neighboring bass, a true friend with both talent and experience, told me to trust myself, that I knew the words…and besides, this wasn’t a competition.

All true, but then the dreaded “worst-thing-that-could-happen” happened. I sang a line prematurely, when no one else was singing. Good grief!

Amazingly enough, the world did not come to an end. I just kept singing. And the audience just kept smiling.

I have witnessed my children get too hard on themselves, something they likely learned from me, unfortunately. But when they mirror this quality, it’s annoying to see your own flaws reflected in your progeny. I’d like to think as the next generation, they have time to evolve out of this ridiculous state of mind, so they can still be happy, fulfilled, satisfied…enough.

As for me, I’m still working on it. I am blessed in countless ways—from my marriage, to my beautiful and healthy children, my work, my friends. Yet it seems the search engine on my brain keeps running that frickin’ clock over and over, despite my yoga practice, my faithful meditations, my attention to balance in body, mind, spirit…humor.

It’s that last one that I find the most valuable these days. Sometimes you just gotta laugh at yourself—give yourself permission to ROYALLY screw up.

In hindsight, it’s kinda funny that I sang out when I wasn’t supposed to. It may not be when we’re on the competition stage in April or performing in Carnegie Hall this May, but then again, it would not be the end of the world.

That’s happening the 21st of this month The END of Judgment Day.

So if there’s any message here, it’s to stop judging yourself (and others) so harshly. It’s okay to fuck up. (Yes, spiritually minded people do say the “F” word—don’t judge me!) If we can somehow reach that pinnacle, it will indeed be the end of the world as we know it.

Or at least the end of Reality TV. One can hope.

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Pauline

Last year around this time I had just finished my second EVER singing performance at the State Capitol. I had been up late the night before, terrified, but after it was done, there was exhilaration like none I’d known before!

We sat down to lunch before making the rounds at a few local elder care facilities. I didn’t really know many ladies at Sacramento Valley Chorus, but I sat near who I would later learn was the assistant director. While she spoke about overcoming her health struggles, there was a twinkle—I swear—in her eyes. I remember thinking to myself, now THIS is someone special! I recognize a kindred spirit when I see one, and from that point forward, when Pauline stepped forward to lead us in song, I paid attention. I wanted to do whatever she asked, despite her relatively soft persona.

Fast forward a year later, shortly after our last performance, Pauline was hospitalized with heart problems. Her loving sister sent us updates about the valiant fight she gave, and I believe we all thought that if anyone could pull through, it would be her. But last night I learned she passed.

Now I’ve written a whole book on loss, and yet when something like this happens, I feel sucker punched. If I taught myself anything from writing “Yoga for a Broken Heart” it was acceptance. That when faced with a grief such as this, I believe the best approach is to simply be present with the bevy of emotions that present themselves.

Right now, I’m sad.

I didn’t know Pauline that well, but I know she was well loved. She shared a friendship with many of our chorus members that spanned decades. We have our last chorus rehearsal tonight before performing before The Nutcracker this Friday, and all 90 of us will likely share that weirdly human moment when you expect someone to step up and do what they always do (in this case, direct a Christmas carol) before the brain kicks in and reminds us that they’re gone. All that remains is that empty pit, and all we can really do is acknowledge the “pit” with kindness.

I know for sure that Pauline is in a better place. I’ve visited 20-some years ago when I had a near death experience, and so I know first hand the intense LIGHT that she is now a part of. In that dimension there IS no sadness, no sickness, no judgment, no regret. There is only LOVE, an eternal place we will all return to someday.

When we sing this season, we will surely sing for the love Pauline represents.

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The Secret Behind The Boob Job

It occurred to me the other day (when I was rewriting a synopsis for a producer) that not everyone knows of or understands the law of attraction.

My screenplay is titled, “The Boob Job,” and it’s about a woman who attends a meditation retreat and learns of the philosophy outlined in the worldwide phenom “The Secret”, but feels guilty about wanting something so superficial as a boob job. She’s always been the self-sacrificing mom type, but her marriage has grown lackluster and she wants a little attention and confidence. When she wakes up with the breasts and body she has longed for, comedy ensues of course, but so do lots of problems as she garners loads of unwanted attention, even dangerous obsession by her so-called guru.

It’s a great concept, gets the attention of both men and women, and it’s funny as hell, at least I think so! But a few readers have commented that they don’t understand how she woke up with the boobies in the first place. Was it magic? Some sort of witch’s spell?

There are no witches in “The Boob Job.” Yes, it’s a wish fulfillment fantasy in the same vein as “Bruce Almighty”, “Freaky Friday” or “The Change Up.” But the law of attraction is far more than simply making a wish or doing some sort of voo doo. I live my life by it, and in the last few years I’ve made a complete overhaul, still pinching myself over the dreams that have come true for me!

“The Secret” produced and written by Rhonda Byrne a few years back states it in its simplest form as “thoughts become things.” The process, at its most basic, teaches “ask, believe, receive.” Plenty of us know how to ask (beg?), and I’m guessing that’s what prayer means for most people. It’s the believing and allowing that are the tough parts. And that’s where authors like Esther and Jerry Hicks come in. Feel free to check them out on youtube, but keep an open mind as you come to understand that Esther is a channel for a group of enlightened beings known as Abraham. At first I thought it was pretty coo-coo. I mean, I’m a recovering journalist with a cynical, er objective, mind. However, I love how I feel when I listen to Esther, and I do pride myself on being a free spirit with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

My yoga background has helped tremendously, because while I like to think I’m a positive thinker, I’m also a human being who worries and thinks about stupid shit 90% of the time. Through yoga I’ve been able to train my hapless, crazy-ass mind into submission, like a puppy. At least most of the time, except when I’m tired or hormonal or super hungry, but that’s another story.

My biggest hurdle is actually getting out of my own way and feeling like I deserve whatever it is I want. I tend to be a doer, and I will go out and single-handedly take on the world without paying attention to doors that are wide open in front of me. I’ve had the message over and over again to YES, plant the seeds of your goals and dreams, but then surrender and allow them to come to you! But still, I must fight the urge to always be the one to make things happen. It comes from my childhood, I’m sure, but in order to make this process work for you, you must get over any issues from your past (we ALL have them) and simply be present and bask in the feelings of your desire as if it is already true!
This is the most important part. It feels a little whacko, but it’s really just using your God-given imagination to play pretend, like a child. For instance, if I want a producer to take on my screenplay, to option it and secure financing and make it to the big screen, I have to FEEL what this would be like and pretend it is already so. I read about it on the internet, and figure out WHY it is that I want this so badly. In my case, I would feel validated. Heard. It would be way cool to see my vision and my message come to life on the screen.

In my character Aubrey’s case, I have her go to sleep and release her resistance, which is why she received her large boobs. (I’m still working on manifesting this one myself—ha ha!) In real life, she could have created this by getting a big raise at work and treating herself to some plastic surgery. Or she could have gotten a job at a hospital, or something like that. But it was much more fun to have her wake up with them! Often, the source of our manifestation comes from the least expected places.

In the past few years, I’ve been able to land an international book deal, attract the love of my life and get engaged, travel around the world, lose 45 pounds, the list goes on and on…it’s gotten to the point that if—no WHEN—I succeed in becoming a produced screenwriter I won’t know what else to do with myself, other than keep making movies, be happily married and health and fit! I guess this is what happily ever after feels like. A new sports car and a bigger house would be nice but not mandatory to my well-being, so of course I have already test-driven my ideal Porshe 911 Carrera and can therefore get the feeling of what if feels like to be in that vehicle for real, and every day after I drop off my daughter at school I drive by my dream mansion as if I’m simply going home.

That’s the way it’s done, and it’s OH so fun! Someday I hope to get a boob job with the funds I receive from the boob job. Of course I can already afford it if I wanted to, but I think it would be more cool if I got the boobs at the same time Aubrey comes to life. Again, I don’t need them. My boobs are alright. And this process is much easier if you don’t NEED something, just desire it. For instance, if you are so broke that you are in danger of losing your house, most likely you are in a deep place of fear and desperation, which does not bode well with the universe. Somehow, some way you need to pull yourself out of the trenches and find a way to feel good about your situation and pay attention to any help or inspiration that comes your way.

Impossible you think? One last example. In 2007, I was going through an ugly divorce, my yoga studio was going bankrupt, both parents had cancer, and my house was foreclosing. This was at the very start of California’s housing market collapse, so it felt like I was the only one failing.) I had no where to go and limited money. My eldest daughter went to live with my parents, and while I had already written my first book, it hadn’t come out yet.

But I kept the faith, listened to music, pet my cat, went on long walks and literally said out loud one night that I SURRENDER!!! Voila, the next morning I received a check in the mail, without warning, for $20K…all the child support my daughter’s father failed to pay over the years plus interest, all at once because he got a job overseas. It was exactly the amount, DOWN TO THE PENNY, I needed to stay another 6 months in my house, find a new apartment and get my life back on track.

I should probably write a book on all the synchronicities which have developed since then, but needless to say this is a blog and not a book. I’d love to hear all of your seemingly random coincidences, as it inspires me when I undoubtedly have a bad day and start feeling insecure again, as I’m human and frail, too.

But what’s really exciting is that I’m also getting better at this whole manifestation stuff the more my thoughts bounce back from negative to positive in no time flat! Instead of thinking, “Oh shit, what if this doesn’t happen, or what if THIS happens?” more often I automatically begin my day happy, my mind saying “I’m so excited and thrilled that today____(fill in the blank).

Some of you, many of you actually, will believe this is crap. That’s fine. Live with your crappy thinking, and as Dr. Phil says, “How’s that working for you?” If you’re content to be miserable, more power to you. I will wish you well, and not wish to be around you.
I’d rather fill my life with like-minded souls who only want the best for themselves and others, and who fill their cups to overflowing, and in doing so, are able to give back to society in service and because it feels good to do so. I can’t wait until I’m able to donate to the charities of my choice, maybe start a college scholarship for single parents like I once was!

So back to the beginning, as us writers are wont to do. How did this producer get my script into his hands to begin with, you might ask? Especially when screenwriters in Hollywood are a dime a dozen, and I don’t even live in Hollywood?

He found it on http://www.simplyscripts.com and came to me, while I was out test driving my Porshe.

Sure, I’ve made the rounds at pitchfests and tried to secure an agent and sent out too many query letters. I’ve made friends with loads of celebrities on Facebook. But in the end, I just wrote the best script possible and took a leap of faith by posting it on a site under a little known section of unproduced scripts. And he came to me. Oh yeah, and he’s British, and I’ve been on this BBC kick

And what if this deal falls through? So what. Just means something bigger and better is on its way. (btw-Another one of my unproduced scripts is “The Bigger the Better.”)

May the boobs be with you…

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All Bothered

I am bothered.
I pride myself on NOT blogging unless I have something to say, and today I have a lot on my mind.
As I’ve written/spoke of before (please visit http://www.michellepaisley.com) I had a near death experience over 20 years ago that changed my life.
I won’t go into the details this time, as that glimpse of the hereafter has been described gazillions of times (it’s estimated that at least 5% of the world has had an N.D.E.).
Needless to say, it involved a hospital, a severe reaction to medication, hovering over my body, movement through a tunnel into the brightest light you can imagine, filled with more unconditional love than can be explained. There was that moment where I learned it wasn’t my time yet, that I still had a purpose to fill, and THUNK, I was back into that limited body of mine.
Fast forward a few decades, and I’ve discovered a proclivity to write in various forms. Poetry, essays, countless newspaper and magazine articles, newsletters, non-fiction books, fiction novels, screenplays and blogging. I guess my purpose is storytelling, with a side of being able to heal.
I’ve had trouble putting into words that divine experience I had so long ago. As we enter 2012, and the world as we know it is coming to an end, I thought I’d better try.
Here’s the thing. Without a body, you have no race, no gender, no sexual orientation. As spirit, you realize how you are a raindrop of soul in an ocean of unity and oneness, much the same way a drop of water is part of the ocean. It suddenly seems ridiculous that you tried so hard to separate yourself from the truth of who you are, and all your struggles seem silly in the face of it. There’s no judgment at all, by anyone. No mean white guy with a beard and a white robe pointing a finger in your face. Just compassion toward the journey you took in coming home to the light. All the lessons learned, they all make sense now! No right and wrong, only pure love, light and goodness.
The closest I’ve ever been able to come to this feeling is in various forms of meditation. No, not prayer, although I do ask that great Source for help at times. Prayer to me seems like a toddler begging for candy and throwing a fit when he/she doesn’t get it. Meditation is clearing the mind and bathing in unity. When I’m able to do this on a regular basis, good things are attracted to me like a magnet. People think I’m magic, but no, I believe anyone can be trained to empty the mind and see the same soul shine out of everyone!
What about the murderers and overall “bad people” of the earth? Is there a punishment? I dunno, folks. You see, I was no saint when I “died”. I was a single mother who had sex before marriage, experimented with alcohol and drugs, and we won’t go into the rest. I still went to an amazing place—call it “heaven” if you will. After the N.D.E. I also studied world religions and philosophies, learned that the original meaning of “sin” is “to miss the mark.” Sadly, there are many “bad” people who miss the mark, some more than others. Rather than judge over the darkness, why not work as a whole to reveal the light?
Anita Moorjani, who wrote an amazing book called “Dying to be Me,” explained her own N.D.E. (I’m paraphrasing—get the book!) that it was like turning the lights on in a warehouse filled with beauty, and yet in life we are only given a flashlight.
Once that light has been turned on, we realize what we’re capable of. Yet we look through our narrow perspectives and preach intolerance and hate.
And that brings me to why I’m writing today. Here I am, getting married in a month. Thrilled that I was able to draw to me a true partner that sees the light in me, and I in him. Yet a large segment of our population is not allowed that civil right, which ritualizes in earthly manner the union of souls. Used to be mixed races who weren’t allowed, and thank GOD that has fallen by the wayside. But it saddens me that those of a homosexual orientation aren’t allowed the same right.
And stop using the bible as defense! It’s an old, old anthology, people, that also says we shouldn’t eat pork, oysters or shrimp. It condones genocide, and says women shouldn’t be allowed to speak up in church. It says if a man dies without an heir, his wife should have intercourse with his brother until she bears a son! LITTLE outdated, if you ask me.
How about reading some of the THOUSANDS of direct experiences like myself? Read other holy books, if you wish, to see if they resonate for you. The Bhagavad Gita is one of my favorites.
Moorjani says that the main message she got from dying and returning was to be her authentic self. To me, that implies tolerance.
The message I got was regarding peace. And love and peace are synonymous. How you get to that level of peace is up to you, but it’s certainly not by denying love to others. Once you’ve left this plane of existence, perhaps you’ll understand. Sometimes I feel impatient with the level of ignorance I’ve witnessed, but the only way to enlighten, I’ve found, is to be a beacon of light, love and understanding. Sure, I often fall short and judge myself, but I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got, and that’s all any of us can do!

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ALL OVER IT

It feels SO good to get this book out to the public!

People keep asking how I got it done so quickly. The answer is simply that the publishing process is often long and arduous (kind of like life, or a good novel, ironically) and so after I wrote “All in Her Head”, being the good girl that I am, I just kept up my (mostly) daily morning writing habit.
My characters just kept talking at me this time. I know that sounds a bit MPD, but it’s true–Bridget had unfinished business. So I wrote a sequel. And I decided to publish this time as an E-book exclusive, since it gets to my readers faster that way; I cut out the middle man who takes most of the profits anyway, and because bookstores are (sadly) disappearing faster than I can grieve over Borders.
The funny thing is, while doing a final read this past week, I realized that this book truly changed me. I really am ALL OVER IT. Finally. Yay.
What do I mean by that?
Well, the book kinda starts off bleak and dark–kind of where I was in life at the moment, despite the fact that I was seemingly getting everything I thought I wanted. I, too, had lost a ton of weight (45 lbs.!) but not through a coma, thank God. Just good old diet and exercise, plus no sugar/carbs. My first fiction novel was a hit. But I was in a going no-where relationship.
So instead of playing the poor-me card, this time I acted like the heroine of my own life story. I struck out on my own, kept writing, gave seminars about loving your self, and ended up loving myself–oh, and then I found the love of my life, and we’re getting married later this year and hopefully living happily ever after.
So while my main character, my beloved Bridget, doesn’t follow the same exact path as me (that would be WAY too easy), the mood is similar. If you find you’re stuck and lacking motivation–whether it’s related to weight loss, body image, romantic relationship, spiritual connection, career stuff–this book, while entirely a work of fiction, may just be the ticket to a higher plain of existence. At least, I hope so.
And that, truly, is the greatest gift an author can give. I write, because I love to imagine, to create, to give back…well, and because I can’t help myself!
I’ve already written a THIRD novella called “All She’s Got” that I’m still editing and trying to figure out if I should E-publish, let my last publisher have it, or work toward letting an agent get me a bigger deal with one of the “big houses” (who also seem to be going broke).

For now, I’m having fun learning the craft of screenwriting, so I may just adapt it for film. I’m creating an original comedy right now and cracking myself up daily, so who knows where this writing gig will go. But, to quote Oprah, one thing I know for sure is this: Now that I truly believe in myself, now that I’m ALL OVER IT, I’m sure to do great things in 2012 (and beyond).

May you do the same, my friends.

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All I Know

All I Know

My holiday ah-ha moment came in the middle of my Kempo workout this morning.

I haven’t blogged lately because I’ve been wrestling with some old inner demons. Ironically, there have been some delays in my sequel “All Over It” coming out, and the theme of that book is overcoming the past and moving forward.

I couldn’t quite pinpoint where my state of unrest was coming from. After all, my dreams were rapidly coming true: I’m engaged to marry the absolute perfect male, I’m a successful published novelist, I’m becoming a screenwriter. But that’s just it—all these wonderful things are finally happening for me and there are some definite haters in my midst whose approval I somehow still needed.

Intellectually I understand that I shouldn’t take critical comments too personally—I figure most of the time it’s a product of other people’s projections and/or fears. Human beings can get competitive, judgmental, even mean.

But it’s me who let that in. I’ve been giving my power away for years, and when I felt vulnerable I gained weight as a protective mechanism.

So even though I’m eating very well and working out almost daily, I still gained back 10 stubborn pounds that won’t come off. Sure, not that big a deal, but symptomatic of me going backwards emotionally. I also keep getting various illnesses, and I’m sick of getting sick.

I’ve been dreading the holidays because some of my biggest critics come out of my own family. But while doing Karate this morning—a little too hard, I might add—and pondering my New Year’s resolutions for 2012, I realized my goal isn’t just to lose those last ten pounds forever (like my main character, Bridget); my intention is to build an impenetrable wall of PEACE that no one can enter but Spirit. A wall that doesn’t keep out intimacy and love, but breathes it!

How do we do that?

By living the message of my books (and future films). By knowing that peace is your prosperity, not necessarily wealth. By making peace a priority.

And how to do that?

For me, it’s by carving out equal time for body, mind, spirit each day. For me, that means exercise, meditation, writing, singing, time with my closest family and friends, my pets. My only resolution next year is to keep up the little rituals that bring me joy and harmony. I can’t wait till the day that inner center becomes so strong that no one can take it away. No one, no how.

Not there yet, but I know now it’s coming. And it’s way better than any Christmas gift.

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