Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Now the Deed Is Done…I Should Probably Introduce Myself

“Sometimes life barrels down like a Cat-5 hurricane, veering off its projected path and forever altering the landscape, just to remind us who’s in charge.”

That’s the current first line of my book PURPOSE. Though I haven’t lived in Southwest Florida long enough to personally experience a Cat-5 hurricane, I feel like that’s exactly what the last year has been. By writing PURPOSE, my landscape has been forever altered…and the winds continue to swirl and blow around me.

I used to write fiction, many lives ago. I wrote my first urban fantasy when I was eight years old (didn’t know it was an urban fantasy, though – it was a school assignment) and fell in love with writing. Through my adolescent years, writing let me escape my own world I couldn’t make sense of and be the main character in one I could. Those stories never went anywhere, though – I wasn’t so great at plotting then. Notebooks full of these story starters sit in a box in my attic.

I started college as an English major but became practical at some point and finished with a marketing degree. In past lives I have been a nationally published, award-winning resume writer; a writer/editor of online training programs; an award-winning journalist; and a marketing communications consultant. So I’ve always been a writer…just a practical one.

I still have a day job. Many writers say “evil day job” but I can’t call mine that. Although, my characters – the voices in my head – think it’s evil because it takes my attention away from them. I co-own a business (www.LicensesEtc.com, I can give myself a plug, right?), serving some absolutely wonderful clients. And I have the BEST business partner in the world. No kidding. Not exaggerating. If you’re in business, you only wish you could have her. But she’s taken. And I appreciate her most of all because she puts up with me and my creative fantasies. She’s my #1 fan…but in a good way. I don’t think she’ll hack my feet off.

I also herd teenaged monsters I call my family. Three boys, 14, almost 16 and 17 – which means I can no longer get between them when they’re messing with each other because they just pick me up and move me out of the way. Believe it or not, I love this age! Because they aren’t really monsters. I’m blessed to have great kids who, for the most part, stay out of trouble. They keep our house lively and full of laughter. I actually don’t look forward to the day they leave our nest, but don’t tell them I said that. And then there’s boy #4, The Man, but that’s a complicated story I won’t bore you with right now. He’s The Man. ‘Nuff said.

So how did I find the time to write a huge-ass novel with all this going on? It happened by accident as the result of several combining factors: Son1 got his driver’s license and helps with taxi duties (Son2 is only a month away); the boys’ sports and activities are much more limited than they used to be as they focus on what they truly enjoy; teens like to do their own thing and don’t need as much entertainment; and The Man…well, he sometimes still needs entertained but he’s very tolerant. Oh, and I stopped doing housework. (Okay, not really, but I wish!)

What started as character sketches got carried away in the hurricane of PURPOSE as these characters started telling me their stories. And they wouldn’t SHUT UP! As I write the next book of the series, they still chatter away all day long until I finally give them my undivided attention. They are the voices in my head making me an A Mused Writer.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Losing My Virginity

(Not that kind! Get your mind out of the gutter!)

Once upon a time there was a girl who had to take a high school computer class when said class was about writing 50 lines of code to see your name scroll across the screen (yes, I’m dating myself). I’m sure we learned to write other, more useful programs, but that was the coolest one, so the one I remember. In college, I had to take a similar class and only survived because of a boy with the most beautiful brown eyes fringed with lashes as long as my 80s-style bangs, who happened to be an engineering major. By the end of that class, I swore I’d never touch a computer again.

Fast-forward a few years and I was now a mom to a one-year-old and very pregnant with my second child. My own mom, a computer geek since the 70s – when a machine with the power of an iPhone required the space of three college campuses – introduced me to Prodigy. Wow! I was hooked. A few months later, when I bought my own PC, I immediately joined AOL, found the mommy and preggo message boards and became addicted to what was then known as the Internet.

For many years, I was the go-to person when it came to computers. I was one of the first professional resume-writing services to have a website and for many years, I was listed #1 on Yahoo!. I sat on the cutting edge of computers and the WWW.

But somewhere along the way, technology surpassed me. I couldn’t possibly keep up with all the latest-and-greatest. Web 2.0 and social media sounded exciting, but my head ached from swiveling so much with all the applications, sites and usefulness. I let myself go, worse than an unhappily married, middle-aged housewife.

I jumped on LinkedIn several years ago but have yet to discover all of its usefulness. I joined FaceBook comparatively early for my age. But Twitter and blogging? Meh. I didn’t need those, too. Who wanted to know that I was having taco salad for lunch or helping my sons with homework? Or worse, a whole blog about my boring life?

Then I submerged myself back into fiction writing and completed my first novel. Along the road to seeking publication, I learned that writers need to take advantage of social media to market themselves and their books, to connect with other writers, agents and publishers, and to build a platform (that’s pub-speak for fans). So I finally gave in and created a Twitter account.

Wow! As I build my writers’ network on Twitter, I’m re-discovering the joy of finding those first Prodigy and AOL forums. Whoever said a writer’s life is lonely is not on Twitter. In fact, it’s so not-lonely, I don’t know how some of those tweeps get any work done. Especially when they also write fantabulous blogs. What I’d thought was an even more in-depth way to bore people – because FB status bars and 140 characters in Twitter just weren’t enough – could actually be a fun outlet to express our lives as writers.

So, I’m giving in. This is my virgin blog post. Just like other virginity losses, it’s more awkward, slightly painful and less inspiring than I’d hoped…and a little frightening (will you still like and respect me in the morning?). But it does get better, right? It has to. Otherwise, why would so many people be doing it? Blogging, that is. I told you to get your mind out of the gutter.