Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Guest Blog Post

Hello Dear Readers, recently I was lucky enough to be invited to be a guest blogger on a fellow Fantasy writer's blog. http://wp.me/p4Dwoa-1h6
Since I believe in paying a good thing forward, I invited another fellow writer to be a guest on my blog. I am happy to introduce to you Timothy Robare who has recently self-published his first Novelette (which is a word I love by the way, its so fancy). Timothy's novelette is one that I have read and love! Because I enjoy his writing so much, I am offering my editing services to him for his upcoming novel. We will see more of him in the future, I am sure. For now, enjoy his post below and check him out on Amazon and Facebook, links below. 

Born December 22nd 1989 in Burlington, Vermont, Timothy graduated with a degree in writing arts from Plattsburgh State. His love for writing started as a young boy writing lyrics and poetry and then moved to short stories and plays until he began to read novels such as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” which really inspired him on the impact novels can have. Writing inspirations range from Shakespeare to Hemingway to CC Humphrey’s and others. 

The path of self publishing: By Guest Author: Timothy Robare

The road to writing is filled with different paths and like Robert Frost said, “I took the one less traveled, and that made all the difference.” Writing is never easy and starting out you glorify it and think it is just a hobby. A lot of work goes into writing, as I have learned. A lot more goes into turning that writing, that beautiful creation that you’ve worked on and worked on until your mental capacity was ready to crash and burn, into the hottest flame ever known. Edit, re-edit, then do both twenty times more and continue doing it; which some nights makes you want to throw your computer at a wall.

An important part of writing, as I learned, is who you surround yourself with. A good support group is extremely important in my experience. People who are willing to give you feedback, (honest feedback). People willing to help you edit, and people telling you that you can do it and that you are doing a good job to keep you going. I know personally, that fits of melancholy plague me often as I write. I had a great supporting cast on my path to self-publishing. I was very conflicted whether to self-publish or not, but finally I talked to multiple sources and decided that it was my best bet currently. I have a main novel that takes most of my focus, but little projects on the side give me breaks that are much needed. I wanted to publish this one, my novelette, “The Story of A World War II Vet”, so badly that I decided to self-publish through Amazon’s programs, Create a Space and KDP. After much contemplation and research I decided it was a good opportunity and exciting. More work was involved but it was so real and it was all me at that point. The final click after creating the proof was a terrifying moment, but also extremely gratifying. Seeing your final copy, searching it on Amazon and having it pop up, is a beautiful moment, one that is nearly hard to believe it is even happening.

Of course it isn’t as great as getting a large publisher in many people’s eyes, but that can be a future project. Self-publishing made me realize how many people actually support me and that I can do anything I need to do in regards to accomplishing, creating a real living book. Friends, family, and people I don’t know that well, helped to spread word of my book and it was a very humbling day to watch so many people care enough to support me in something that means so much. Perhaps it’s not as spectacular as being published by a big company in many views and aspects, but it is equally as beautiful and wonderful in different ways that are difficult to put into words. I personally was terrified and the writing journey is different for each person, which is part of its allure, but there’s always a way to accomplish your goal and your dream, as long as you want to badly enough. If you’re considering the path of self-publishing, no it isn’t a glamour filled journey right off, but nothing is just happens and becomes a best-selling piece. It is a different path than I had originally anticipated, but I do not regret one second of it now. All you can do is follow your heart and your pen, (or keyboard, I suppose). From what I have learned as a writer, that will lead you to where you need to be. In closing, I will leave you with another beautiful quote.
“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”—Enid Bagnold 


Friday, March 31, 2017

Keeping the motivation:

If you have never read the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel, I highly suggest reading them. Classic stories that describe real things in life that we all might face such as being self conscious about how we look in a bathing suit or wishing you had enough will power to stop eating sweets. One of my favorites is the story called Tomorrow. Toad does not want to get out of bed because he knows his house is a mess and he needs to clean it but he does not want to. He wants to take life easy. So he refuses to pick up his clothes or wash his dishes or sweep and dust but then he sits on his bed and says “Blah, I feel down in the dumps. I’m thinking about tomorrow and all of the many things that I will have to do.” 

Sometimes when you are a writer you may have a day like this. A day when you think, I know I should go through my media sites and post things or make some calls to local schools to schedule book signings or speeches. Or even tougher, I know I really should be writing, working on the next chapter of my story. But when you sit down and look at an empty page you may feel like my friend Toad, “Tomorrow! I will do it all tomorrow!” Toad shouts. What Toad realizes and what I have come to realize about life is that if you do a little bit here and there today, you will have less things on your to do list staring you in the face tomorrow. Thinking of life this way can help make you feel less overwhelmed, even by the dreaded “blank page”.

That is not to say that it will be easy or fulfilling to write or manage your other tasks for your career. But if you sit down and try to think of what may happen next in your book, you re-read the previous chapter to know where you left off or perhaps you look at some notes to remind yourself of where your story is going. (Whatever your process may be, every author’s is different.) If you do all of this and you still can think of nothing for your story try putting that book aside for the time being. Instead, write a few paragraphs that you could use for an article or a talk or blog. Or jot down other story ideas that you may have in your head, even if you do not think you will ever use them. I find that writing whatever comes into your mind is a bit like dusting a dirty house, it helps to clear away the cobwebs that have been gathering and makes you feel a little bit happier and lighter. Then, with your head clear and your body relaxed, you will probably notice that the next time you open your book and begin to write, the story flows onto the page all on its own.

If all else fails, if you try to jot down some story ideas, or write an article or blog and still nothing comes out, then you could always try reading. I find that reading other people’s work, even short children’s stories helps to stimulate your own writing ability. You will pick up and store things that you liked about that authors writing style and discard what does not fit you. When you do this, it helps you to create your own style and voice. A writer’s voice is uniquely theirs but we all gain inspiration from one another too and that is okay. So yes, as an author writing on a consistent basis is important, but so is reading and so is doing whatever it takes to clear out the cobwebs in your mind to keep it clear.  So do me and yourself a favor dear readers and don’t be like my pal Toad and simply say, “I will do it tomorrow.” Instead, start with some small tasks and remember if you do a little bit today, it will be less that you will have to do tomorrow. And the good thing about that is that then, when tomorrow comes, you will be able to “Just take life easy.” Until next time remember…writing=happiness. ;)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Super Girls: Role Models

With so many women’s marches going on and women’s rights being talked about in the news, it is impossible to ignore the fact that women are still feeling like lower class citizens in a lot of respects. I think that women’s issues and women’s rights have come a very long way when you look at where we came from. But, it many ways we are not where we want to be yet and so we continue to speak out.

A wonderful friend of mine, who is a life coach and a spiritual healer, (Heather Wood of Body Love, www.fitbybodylove.com), recently did a live talk on Facebook about the kinds of role models that girls see in the media. It always seems that there are two types either, those who try to get ahead using their beauty or shock value or those who try to get ahead by acting like men, tough, and no-nonsense. These latter women are usually called a not nice B word by men and other women, probably because people feel threatened by them. My friend made a good point in saying that girls are often still shown that women, especially mothers, need to put themselves last. That they should do everything else for everyone else before they do what they need for themselves and that if they do this they are a good wife/partner and mother. If they do not do this they are considered selfish by a lot of people. Why is that? Truthfully if a mother does some things for herself on a regular basis she feels better about herself which makes her kinder and happier to others. She becomes a better mother and wife/partner because she’s taking care of her own needs.

This point is proven in the role of women/mothers in Disney movies for example, don’t get me wrong I love Disney, but it is true that the role of women in Disney movies has always been one of two extremes, either dead or non-existent or weak on one side or very strong, very powerful, very villainous on the other side. Think about it, who are the ones who save the day in Disney movies, many men right, if a female does save the day, like Mulan for example, she’s not actually a woman she’s a young girl. The same with Merida from Brave, the same with Belle from Beauty and the Beast. They are all girls, if you read up on what their ages are it is usually between 14-19. Elsa, from Frozen was the oldest at 21 and she was the first to have a strong, feminine presence and not be evil, but she was treated like she was evil wasn’t she? Because she was strong and threatening….Interesting. (Just a side note here, Frozen was written by a woman maybe that is why it has a different tone.) Look at the mothers or older women in all of those movies they are either dead, or weak and easily pushed around by others. What message does that send to young girls?

After listening to Heather talk about this and thinking about it more I started thinking about my own book and whether or not it has positive female role models. I believe it does, but they are very mixed in a lot of ways. The two main characters are very strong, intellectual, brave females, but they are girls, both 15. The villain is also a woman but again fairly young she is only 23. The only thing that I think saves my book from following the same old path that the Disney movies took is that I do have two strong mentors that help the girls along the way. One of these mentors is very old, her name is Alianda, and the other is younger, around 30, her name is Niandrin. These women are both independent and brave they both followed their own paths in life and because of this, in a way they pushed others away from them. Technically neither of them has “it all,” a family, a career and a good partnership. However, they encourage the girls to work toward those goals for themselves. In the second book the 30 year old, Niandrin and Isobel are having a discussion about this and this is what is said;

            Isobel asked, “Do you still believe in love? Do you still think it’s possible to do both, complete ones personal journey and have someone to love?”
            “I know that for me that is not what happened, but that does not necessarily mean the same will be true for you. You will have to make your own choices and maybe you will have both, only time will tell.”

Now I do not want to give too much away so I will stop here, however, I will say that I feel good about what happens to Isobel and Mauve and I do feel that they and Niandrin and Alianda are good role models for girls. Do they follow into the same old trap as Disney characters, maybe in some respects, but I think they are still people that girls can look up to and that makes me very proud. I can also say that in the future I will be even more cognizant of the messages I am sending and try to break the mold if I can.

How about you dear readers, what do you think? Is it necessary to change the role of women in books and movies for young girls or no? Can you name strong female characters who have “it all” the three things I mentioned above. What would your female characters be like if you wrote some? I’d love to hear. Until next time dear readers remember, writing=happiness. ;)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Asking and Receiving Advice & Criticism:

When I was young I was a very shy girl that worried a lot about what others thought of me. This is not because I was a vain person. It was more that I didn’t want to let anyone down. I wanted to make sure that I was meeting everyone’s expectations and was not disappointing them in someway. Having this kind of personality made it difficult for me to ask others for advice or for their opinion about something that I was doing or something that I had created. It also meant that when someone voluntarily told me that they had some criticism about me, or what I was doing, or what I had created, I took it very personally and was very emotional about it. Even if it was constructive criticism I still had a hard time swallowing it.(below is a picture of shy little me). 👧

As an adult I had to learn the hard way, (through experiences), how to have a thicker skin and be okay with who I am and what I do. Only now, in my thirties, am I able to say if someone doesn’t like something about me, “Ehhh…(shoulder shrug), that’s their opinion they’re welcome to it. It won’t stop me from being who I am.” Learning to be comfortable with who you are is difficult and it takes time. But now, I am at a place in my life where I know when I am feeling stuck about an issue and when I need to reach out to someone or multiple people for help. And when they tell me what they think, I am now comfortable enough to do what they suggest if I agree or say “thank you” and do something else if I do not agree with their assessment or criticism.

I feel that this growth has been essential to my success in business and in my experience as an author. In the past I had a hard time sharing my writing with others and asking what they thought. But I learned that sharing is an extremely important part of writing. When you write, you are writing for an audience after all, and while it is true that you cannot please everyone, obviously you want your writing to resonate with some audience. You hope that some people will love your characters and story as much as you do, so you want to make your stories the best they can be, (at least I do.) When I was writing the first two Elven Quest books, I got to the end and had over 1000 pages. I heard a lot from my first readers that it was too long and too detailed, especially in the beginning. So, I had to work during the editing process mostly to delete some sections. Deleting parts of the book was difficult. I wanted to make sure that I kept the integrity of the story. The most important thing that I learned though was that different readers had really good ideas of things that I could change or add that I hadn’t even thought of. By the time I finished the books, I felt positive about the changes I had made and I knew that the books were the best they can be. I was grateful to those readers for sending some creative ideas for changes my way.

Currently, I am in the process of writing my third novel and yet again, I am stuck. This time I feel that the story is too short and lacking in excitement in some areas. I have been helping to mentor and edit another writer’s work. He and I have formed a good relationship where we can bounce writing ideas off of one another. So when I got to the point where I had re-read my story several times and still couldn’t figure out what to add and where, I mentioned this to this other writer. We discussed the type of story that it is the plot, the characters, and how much I wanted to add. Yet again, I was pleasantly surprised and glad that I asked someone for help because he gave me a few suggestions that I think will make a big difference. Now the next step will be to implement those changes. 😉

The point of this particular blog, dear readers, is to make you think about yourself. How do you handle asking for advice or help from others? How do you react when others give their opinion of you or your creations? If those opinions are negative in nature, how do you handle that? And if you struggle with this like I did, what are some steps you can take to be more comfortable putting yourself out there and hearing others opinions? I know for me, this took time and a conscious choice to keep stepping outside of my comfort zone and ask about what others thought. In fact, my conscious hope and plan for this year is to have more connectivity. What I mean by this is that I want to open myself up to communicate more with others and learn from them, as well as help to teach or mentor them by sharing my passions and thoughts and experiences. I think that only through communicating with ourselves and with others can we learn and grow as people. What do you think dear readers? I am going to take steps daily to remember my connectivity goal and in some way try to connect to someone new daily. In the meantime, I will take what I’ve learned from others and use the ideas that they helped to inspire and keep following my passion. I hope you will all work on your own goals and follow your passions dear readers. Until next time and as always remember, writing=happiness ;).

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Creating an online presence & embracing technological change:

A little while after my E-novel was published, before the prints were published, I spoke with my publisher and I gained some great insight about what my next steps were to share my author background and book details with the world. I stepped away from writing my third novel at that time and began to focus on building my social network.

I became a legitimately published author through a publishing company and that is amazing!! But what now? I thought. My book is out there for sale, how do I let the world know it is there? How do I build a readership aka a fan-base? As my publisher stated there is no one way and building a readership takes a long time, usually between 3-6 years, in fact. But there are things that I can do to help the process and it starts with utilizing this amazing thing called the internet, (perhaps you’ve heard of it. 😉)

Social networking has simply exploded in the last ten years and now, it is the fastest, easiest way to make yourself known to the world. But talk about overwhelming! There are a lot of rules and food for thought when it comes to setting up an online presence for a business venture vs a personal nature. Your presence online needs to be professional, hit many different networks and offer both, insight into who you are as an author and a person, but also allows your fans a way to communicate with you and tell you their opinions or ask questions.

I am thirty five years old and am not afraid to admit that for a while there, I flat out refused to join the “social networking craziness”. I am from a small town and the thought of communicating with millions of people scared me at first. So I had my one Facebook page and that was enough, I said. I didn’t need a Twitter or Instagram or Pintrest account…that was silly. Well…that was then. I realize now that this way of communicating and doing business is not going away. If anything, the world will continue to become more digital and more automated. So I might as well roll with the times and embrace the possibilities, especially now that I have something as amazing as a published book to offer the world. And for the record, I do consider it an offering to the world. It is my gift to others that I hope will bring them a feeling of happiness, courage and belief in doing something good to help the world we all live in and its societies thrive. That is, after all, a huge theme in my series of Elven Quest and it is something that I believe in whole heart-idly. I think it is extremely important for all of us to ask ourselves what we can do to help work cohesively with one another, even with people that you may have nothing in common with, in order to protect and help our planet and its people. We all share it. We should all be taking care of it.

More on saving the world later…back to building my social network. 😀 I decided after some research to start with an Author Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Pintrest account, an Instagram account and finally, a blog. My hope is that all of these sites will allow me to reach many different kinds of readers and share my goals, joys, news, events and also random thoughts. I hope my fans will be able to understand my process as a writer and what keeps me motivated to keep writing. I have always believed in being honest, so what you see here is the real me and I promise to keep it that way.

I do feel that there are a lot of positives to changing technology. But the technology change and the changes in communication will be difficult, I fear, for some people in the future to handle. I work, (at my day job), at a huge global corporation. We have business units all over the world and so we are always trying to embrace new technologies. I sat in a meeting today where people spoke about robotic and AI technology and their forecast for the future of the work force in all industries. I know that by 2030 the way we do business and the jobs that we do as a society, will be very different than they are now. It is going to be a mind shift and as human beings we will need to learn to embrace this change, be a part of it and keep an open mind or we will be left out. That sounds a bit scary and a bit gloom and doom, but I really believe that it is not. It is exciting to see that finally, “the way we’ve always done it” mentality will be going away and instead we’ll be asking, “how can we communicate better? How can we be faster and more efficient?” These are all great questions. I think people are going to start looking at causes and effects with a wider scope so that they’re not just focused on what they are responsible for, but also understanding how what they do affects a bigger picture.

In my novel, I feel like Isobel goes through this as well, realizing that her universe is bigger than just herself and her small town and that everyone has a part to play. They all affect the entire picture. For me, I am ready to embrace those changes and ask those bigger questions and that is why I am, for the first time, excited to embrace my social online network. It is a step in the right direction for me. 

I hope you will feel free to reach out to me on any of the social sites. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally ready and embracing them! Wish me luck!! J Until next time, dear readers remember, writing=happiness. ;)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Inspiring Others:

This past month I was very pleased an honored to return home to my native island, Grand Isle, Vermont to be able to speak to two middle schools. On Wednesday January 18th I drove up to the top of the string of islands in VT to a little town called Alburgh. When I arrived at the school I was surprised to see that on their sign out in front of the building they had written, Alburgh is proud to welcome author Laura E. Thompson. Talk about humbling, it was amazing to realize that I was their honored guest. I wish I had taken a picture of it, unfortunately I forgot to. However, if I receive photos from the school, I will be sure to post them. That afternoon I met with the 8th graders and then the 7th graders for two forty minute sessions. We sat in the library and I told them about myself and the book. Then I opened it up to questions and they asked things like, “What keeps you motivated?” And “How long did it take you to write the book?” They seemed pleased when I told them that a lot of my inspiration came from growing up in a small town and that my goal for visiting them was to instill the fact that it does not matter how small your town was or where you came from, if you believe in yourself and keep working towards your dream you can achieve it. The students seemed to enjoy the talk and I was pleased to offer a signed book to one lucky winner from each class.

On Friday January 20th I returned to my old Elementary school Grand Isle. Grand Isle had planned the talk a little differently. Instead of separating the classes, they invited me to stand onstage in the auditorium and speak to over 100 people. I spoke to the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students, as well as their teachers for an hour. I am not ashamed to admit that when I found out there would be that many students, I suddenly became very nervous. The night before the speech I tossed and turned until after midnight. It is a strange thing to go back and see a place that you spent your whole childhood in order to tell other kids growing up there what you have done with your life. You can’t help wondering what they will think. I thought what if they do not like my speech? What if they are bored or do not ask any questions and there is a huge, awkward silence? Nothing could have been further from what happened. The children were absolutely wonderful and extremely engaged in my speech. They eagerly raised their hands and asked both prepared questions and new questions that they made up on the spot. I even received some suggestions about other things that I could write about. I couldn’t believe how positive and impressed they seemed to be. For a shy, awkward girl who grew up afraid to speak up in class, this was a shining moment of achievement for me. I was so proud to do it and so happy that they enjoyed it.

After the speech, I was interviewed by a lovely eighth grade student named Nevaeh Prim. We sat for about ten minutes as she asked me questions in order to write an article for their school newspaper. I have included her article below, enjoy. Until next time dear readers, remember to keep being yourself and believing in your dreams and they will come true, in time. Writing=happiness ;)

 On Friday, January 20, at Grand Isle School, Ms. Laura E. Thompson, former Grand Isle student, gave us a presentation and book talk about her newly published book “The Burden of Destiny: Elven Quest Book 1”
During her hour long visit she explained to us her road to writing her book and her challenges and difficulties of writing her very first young adult fantasy novel. As a child she liked to read and write but never really knew she wanted to be a published author until she was a little older. She had many inspirations writing the novel including JK Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien.
She stated that it took her “over 10 years” to write and publish the book. Once she published the book she said “It was like a dream come true.”
Although she had a fun time writing the book, she encountered many challenges along the way, including being rejected about 15 times by publishers before she was able to actually publish it. Sometimes writing the novel even Ms. Thompson had her doubts and threw the beginnings of the book aside. But that never stopped her, with the courage and help from her family and friends she was able to complete her very first novel.
Her final message to me during our interview was “...but if you truly believe in something, stick with it. If you really believe in yourself great things will happen.”
I thought that it was really neat of Ms.Thompson to come and visit our school and share to us her thoughts and tell us her journey making the book. As a young writer myself I believe that she gave me some good tips and inspiration on perseverance and never giving up on on writing. I learned that writing isn’t going to be easy and that new writers may encounter many many challenges and that we shouldn’t give up. I can’t wait for when someday I may be able to publish my own book and that her visiting gave me a little confidence booster on writing.
Interview and Writing: Nevaeh Prim
Photos: Nevaeh Prim and Kate Lucas

Friday, January 13, 2017

Our natural elements and the part they play in my writing:

For anyone that has read the first of my Elven Quest Series, The Burden of Destiny, you will have realized what a huge part nature has in my story. The elven races that I created were representative of four elements Earth, Air, Fire and Water. In my own life these elements have always provided happiness and inspiration for me.

As many of you probably know, I grew up in a small town on an island in the middle of a lake in Vermont. The fresh water lake, Lake Champlain, was quite literally a minute’s walking distance from my house, (that was my water element). My yard had plenty of different types of trees and even small forests, (this was my Earth element). Living in the country we had plenty of fresh air, (even though sometimes it smelled like cows, there were a lot of farms nearby. J This was my air element.) Lastly, I have very fond memories of having bon fires by the lake in the summer and warm fires in our wood stove in the winter. Not to mention camp fires when we went camping, which we did every summer, (this was my fire element.) Below are a couple of pictures of VT.

Each of these elements gave me specific feelings and memories that I pulled back and remembered when I wrote my books. I tried to show how special and unique each of these elements is and how important it is to protect them. Why so important? In my book I explain that elements seem to have abilities of their own to create protection and positives or to destroy. If you think about natural disasters and what they can do, it is a bit scary. Earthquakes, title waves, tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, all of these things can destroy houses and land and even hurt or kill people. Maybe helping to stop land, air and water pollution will not do anything toward preventing these disasters from occurring but maybe it will. Personally, I would rather work together to try to take care of our world and its natural beauty than waiting and seeing what happens if we do not.

Although being rich enough to donate sums of money toward nonprofits that help the environment would be wonderful, (definitely do this if you can.) I am not in a position to do so, so instead I make sure to help in the little ways that I can. I clean up my yard, street and local park whenever I see trash lying around. My family has a garden and chickens so we try to eat fairly naturally. Instead of throwing out leftover food we give it to our chickens or use it as fertilizer. Also, we do not use pesticides on our grass or gardens. When a company came to our door offering to spray pesticides to keep mosquitoes away we said “no, thank you” because we knew it was bad for the land, air and animals.

As a mom I am in position of being able to teach my son about respecting nature and animals, cleaning up after himself and re-using old things. I try to do so as much as possible. In my novels my characters speak about how important it is to respect the elements a lot and I hope that my novels help to inspire others to remember to always treat our natural elements with respect, like they are our friends. I hope you all do what you can as well dear readers, please let me know, thanks! Until next time remember. Writing=happiness ;)