Book Characters IRL

October’s Question: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
YAASSSS! The main protagonist in my 18 Things trilogy is named Olga Gay Worontzoff, and she’s named after her two grandmothers. As stated in my author’s bio to the right here, I really do have grandmothers named Olga and Gay but unlike my heroine, I’m not named after either one of them.
My character is also addicted to coffee, and I must admit, I have zero self-control when it comes to avoiding Starbucks.
Fun Fact: I met my hubs the first day of high school when I was 14 and heard the first of many voices in my head, whispering I’d marry him someday. In the meantime, I fell in love with someone else and dated him for three years while my future husband became one of my best friends. Hence, I could definitely relate to Olga’s love triangle in my series.
The most important way in which I’m like my MC is I turn to Jesus for his boundless love & amazing grace, for his ability to turn my despair into hope, and for giving me the desires of my heart in his perfect timing. Ecclesiastes 3:1 said it best:
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To be honest, I think all authors see a little of themselves in our characters. Through them we see our own goals, dreams, truths, fears, and thoughts. And we hope our readers see a bit of themselves in our characters, too.
This has been another post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage. Check out the co-hosts this month for some more related posts:
Co-Hosts:

Olga Godim, Chemist Ken,Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!

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Prose Pet Peeves

I read 16 books this summer from start to finish . . . others I started but never finished. Two of the novels I did finish but had some trouble with were written by the same author: Cormac McCarthy. For all his fame, I’d somehow never read any of his works. I started with The Road because I heard many high school English teachers using that one with success in their classes. Then I moved onto No Country For Old Men because I thought that title fit better with my curriculum; this year I’m focusing on international mindedness and appreciating other cultures/viewpoints. In the end, I didn’t add McCarthy to my syllabus because I just couldn’t get over his lack of punctuation. I didn’t want my students to start modeling his style and go, “But McCarthy did it!” when I broke out the red pen.

According to McCarthy: “There’s no reason to blot the page up with weird little marks. I mean, if you write properly you shouldn’t have to punctuate.”

If you say so. But my annoyance at his lack of punctuation took me out of the story time and time again. Then it made me insecure. Do I use toooo much punctuation?! Is that my problem? I definitely haven’t achieved the success of McCarthy with my 18 Things trilogy.

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What are your pet peeves when reading?

This has been another post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage. Check out the co-hosts this moth for some more reading/writing/editing pet peeves:

Christine Rains
Dolarah @ Book Lover
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
Yvonne Ventresca
LG Keltner

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Time for another post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

This month’s question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Okay, I’m seriously surprised Big Brother hasn’t come knocking on my door for all my weird internet searches. My 18 Things series include subjects such as the Underworld, spirit guides, angels, demons, demon possession, mind reading, portals and traveling across different dimensions, and lots of odd spiritual rituals. And yes, I researched them all online (no personal experience with those subjects whatsoever). The coolest thing for me was the portals because I really want time traveling across dimensions to be real. That feeling probably stems from from reading all those stories while growing up & wanting to escape my situation at the time. Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter and Platform 9 ¾, the ‘Gate of Hell’ in Dante’s Inferno, a wardrobe with a secret passageway to Narnia . . .

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What do you think? Is portal-based time travel just something from a sci-fi movie, or something that could become a reality one day?

IWSG & Literacy Event

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Time for another post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

This month’s question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Sort of . . . 18 Things started out as another novel. Back then it was a stand-alone & nobody died. The main character had cancer though, and agents stated it sounded too much like a Bucket List Junior or A Walk to Remember. A few suggested I make it a trilogy and somehow throw in a paranormal twist because those were all the rage in YA at the time. The rest, they say, is history!

Speaking of 18 Things, I’ll be promoting it at an author panel & signing at the local Barnes & Noble Marketplace in Fort Myers in two weeks. As many of you will recall, I teach English and have organized author school visits for the past three years. This year is bigger and better with a huge festival featuring 15 authors! These are the authors that will join me at the bookstore in the evening. Most are from around the state, but we have one from Georgia, one from Ohio, and another from New York! If you’re in Southwest Florida, please come on out from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, March 16th! 15% of our author sales will be donated back to my school for next year’s literacy festival 🙂

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Hearing Voices

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I’ve been reading a lot of novels lately, more than usual. Part of the reason is me staying away from social media a bit. I comment on issues when I feel I need to, and as a public school teacher, I definitely aired my grievances about Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. But the truth is, other than organizing protests through social media, I don’t think it’s very effective to keep posting these “Hear Me Now” statements. The people who agree with you will “like” your comments and the ones who don’t will unfriend you or mute you, so what’s the point? But it’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut sometimes, so I read.

My question is, when you read, do you hear voices in your head? Please tell me I’m not the only one! I hear voices in my head all the time anyway–of my characters–I’m not totally crazy. Yet. Right? Hearing voices is acceptable when you’re a writer (so I’ve been told). Although when I was writing the final book in my trilogy, 18 THOUGHTS, I did actually lose the argument to my main character, Olga. That was a whole new level of insanity 😉

But I was thinking about this month’s question: how has my experience as a writer changed me as a reader? For sure, it’s helped me appreciate every story a bit more. I know the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into making a book, and what little royalties you get out of it in the end. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the way I hear different voices for the various characters as I’m reading . . . that’s been going on for as long as I can remember.

How about you–what’s your reading experience like? Read any great books lately? So far this year I’ve read:

Smash & Grab by Amy C. Parker

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

The Surrendered by Case Maynard

Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

To be honest, I’d give all of these books 5 stars! They were wonderful!! Check them out if you’re looking to hear some new voices in your head 🙂

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

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#LifeGoals

 

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So 2016 is behind us (thank God). Not only did I lose four family members this past year, but we lost way too many beloved celebrities from my childhood as well, hence the Carrie Fisher quote (and omggg, what great words to live by in 2017!). One of my earliest memories is Jabba putting Leia on a chain and then she strangles him to death while the boys go off to talk. LOVE LOVE LOVE!! I hope she’s finally resting in peace.

I don’t know where you are in this journey called life, but if you’re like me, you’re probably not resting much, and are actually quite busy. As in, you’ve already lost track of days in the new year and what you’ve done with them. You have a list of a million things to do each day and are lucky if you get through five of ’em! So nope, I haven’t started the fourth book in my 18 Things series yet like I planned to over winter break, but that’s okay.

I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to figure out the person I want to be in 2017, and I think that’s my New Year’s Resolution. Just discover who I truly am and be that person instead of trying to impress everyone else. Today I came across this blog post,

Tell Me What You Did Today, And I’ll Tell You Who You Are,

and found it quite helpful, so I linked it above in case you’re interested. May you find peace, love, joy, and health in 2017!~CHEERS!

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

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Counting My Blessings

Today’s Question: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?
What a great question for November, the time of year when we reflect on our favorite things and count our blessings. I’m a people person, so I’d say my favorite aspect of being a writer are all the people, places, and experiences that have come my way as a result of publishing my YA trilogy, 18 Things. Growing up, I had some pretty dark days, and I never dreamed the life I have now would be possible. I’m so grateful for the gift God has placed in my hands, and I love hearing from readers who’ve said my books changed their life. The way written words can transform a soul never ceases to amaze me. I didn’t strive to make my books religious, but I did pray God would use my novels as a vessel through which love flowed outward, touching people the way His love touched me. To see the fruits of that prayer is a humbling experience.
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My first event as a published author. I shared a vendor’s table with fellow members of my local writers group & brought a box of my books to sell. I thought I’d sell one, but I sold . . . wait for it . . . 18!!

And I love meeting other authors, too. Most writers are great at spreading the love, and I strive to do the same. The last three years I’ve spearheaded a literacy festival at the middle school where I taught English, and now that I’ve switched to high school, I’m planning the same event but on a much larger scale. Already, 12 YA authors have agreed to come FOR FREE! Of course, they’ll get lots of book sales out of the event, but it’s just so awesome to see their level of excitement matching the students enthusiasm for this festival. Spreading the love helps me to count my blessings because I’m constantly reminded how supported I am by those around me, and vice versa.
This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.
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The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains! Thanks for spreading the love, guys!!

Is It Ready Yet?

Today’s Question: When do you know your story is ready?

When my editor rips it out of my cold dead hands! Seriously, us creative types have a hard time stepping away from the shiny object *ooh, squirrel!*

But what happens when you don’t have an editor? Before I had any publishing contracts, how did I know my story was ready? . . . After I’d had three critique partners take a look at it, then fixed my manuscript  according to their advice. I then shot for two beta readers to read over my novel and give me their feedback. It’s ideal if the betas are prolific readers in the genre you write, and I was fortunate to have that for my 18 Things YA trilogy.

I don’t like spending more than a year on a project, but I know other writers take as much as several years *coughs George R.R. Martin*

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In the end, you have to go with your gut . . . or wait until your editor rips it out of your cold dead hands 🙂

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

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Fitting It All In

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this question . . . 

How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

Well, I’d probably have more dollars than the ones I’ve earned with 18 Things, 18 Truths, or 18 Thoughts!

Writing, Reading, Researching, Marketing, Promoting, Socializing, Facebooking, Blogging, Tweeting, Editing, Revising, Plotting, Planning, Drinking coffee, Emailing, Eating cake pops, Motivating, Teaching, Cleaning, Cooking, Laundry, Church, Playing Taxi Driver to kids, Spending time with the hubs, Remembering to walk the dog and feed the hamster, Fitness . . . HA! Yeah right! Let’s face it, something had to give;-)

You ever have those days when you wonder WHY AM I DOING THIS? *raises hand* Some days I get very very VERY frustrated trying to fit it all in. But slowly I’ve discovered some tricks of the trade, and I’d like to share my top 5 tips with all you lovelies today.

  1. You know that quote from Thomas Jefferson, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Well, I hate it. Guess what? I do the opposite, and it works! I just take one it one day at a time. Heck, I take it one step at a time! I make my list, cross each item off as I go, and don’t think too far ahead, or my head will start spinning!
  2. Accept help. Admitting we can’t do it all on our own frees us to accept outside help. News Flash: Most people have already realized you aren’t perfect, so quit trying to be! If people want to help, let them.
  3. Repeat after me: Will power is my friend. Take the “I cannot say no” stamp off your forehead, and limit extracurricular activities. Then sit your butt in the chair and write! And not just Facebook posts, Twitter messages, and blogs! Write your story EVERY DAY! writing-is
  4. Find a place to write and make it your own. Since our move two years ago, I have my own home office, but I used to just take up half the couch with my laptop, my books on craft, and my journals. My family, the television, and my iPod actually help to stimulate creativity. I think it’s actually best not to have a need for privacy, because then you could procrastinate forever! Now editing does take some peace and quiet, which is why I wait till my youngest goes to bed and stay up late. And yesss, I still get up at at 5:30a.m. for my day job, which leads me to my last tip . . . .
  5. Consume massive amounts of coffee and keep a steady supply of hidden chocolate!

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

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Which Way to Go?

Have you ever been at a crossroads in your life and didn’t know which way to go? Both paths have their positives and negatives, and your mind and heart are battling, so they aren’t helping either. When that happens, I pray for a sign of God’s will for me. I pray he’ll guide me to the one path that’s truly for my highest good and the good of those around me. I pray I’ll have the courage to follow his lead.

Two weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house. I’d never hung out at this friend’s house before, but this friend is also a teacher and works at my dream school doing my dream job. Her assistant principal called while I was there, asking if she knew of anyone who’d be interested in teaching tenth grade English for their international baccalaureate (IB) program (she teaches twelfth grade IB).  My friend asked me if I was interested. I was, but I kind of laughed at the offer. After all, I’d only been teaching middle school Language Arts for three years. She convinced me to at least take an interview, so we scheduled one for the next morning.

I was contemplating the new job offer all day, and then my mom showed up at my doorstop around five o’clock. My beautiful cousin, Angie, age forty-one, was dead. She’d traveled 14 hours by car a couple weeks earlier, and unbeknownst to her, a blood clot formed in her leg, eventually traveling to her heart and killing her.

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Angie and me. She was a teacher, too. There were 400 people at her funeral. She made quite the impact.           R.I.P.

 

This was the third family member I’d lost in seven weeks. It’s hard to suffer the loss of someone you love, but I also know this is part of God’s plan, too. We’ll all die one day. None of us escapes it. Knowing we’re all part of some bigger destiny takes away some of the pain for me. As I stayed up late that night, too anxious and heartbroken to sleep, I realized the way to move beyond fear is to go through it and trust whatever is meant to be will be. The only reason I didn’t jump at the new job opportunity right away is because of my old anxieties, but God has steadfast belief in the abilities he’s given us, even when we doubt ourselves.

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My new classroom at Cape Coral High School, my alma mater!

I know this blog post isn’t focused on writing, but I think a lot of us, especially in the publishing world, tend to think of success in terms of how talented we are compared to ________ (insert favorite author’s name here) or how much money we make with our books (newsflash: I made $323 last month off 18 Things, so yeah, I’m not quitting my day job any time soon!).

But I think if we’re willing to seek the path the universe lays in front of us and keep moving forward through all the good days and not-so-good days, then that’s the true measure of success.

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

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