What’s To Expect for November (on my blog)

It’s the first day of a new month; but it isn’t just any month. It’s National Novel Writing Month!

 

I’ve been participating in this on and off since 2008. I think I won at least two. Even though the goal for NaNo is to write 50k words but the real importance of this is that it “forces” you to sit down and write.

Key word is write.

So, write I am.

This year I will be writing a short book (more than likely this will end up less than 50k but that’s okay!). A Christmas Romance, Ginger’s Christmas.  Here is the cover I have designed:

 

Created on Canva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what should you expect to see here for the next 30 days?

I plan to update my progress periodically as well as give more information on this story. There will also be several interviews with writers who are also participating in NaNo.

What about you? Are you doing NaNo this year? I’d love to hear more about it!

It’s time to get back to writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#NaNoWriMo #Interview: Ian Healy

*This year I wanted to provide a spotlight for a few writers who have decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Enjoy getting to know them and learn from their insights!  If you’re doing NaNoWriMo and would like to be interviewed, go to the Contact page and drop me a message!

Tell us why do you participate in National Novel Writing Month

Originally, I did because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. That was more years ago than I care to count. Now I do it simply to get a jump start on a particular project. I try to release 2-3 books of my own every year, and getting a 50k boost in one month always helps me reach that.

How/When did you first learn about NaNoWriMo?

It was on a forum. Someone mentioned it and I asked what it was. The rest, as they say, is history.

How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo?

I’ve skipped a couple years here and there, but I am about to embark upon my 15th NaNo. I have never failed to reach the goal, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything!

Being a NaNo veteran, are there any advice you might offer for a newbie?

Sometimes it feels like you don’t have time to write. Don’t always feel like you have to carve out a 2-3 hour block of time to try to reach your goal. If you can write on your phone or tablet, knock out a paragraph or two at various times during the day. Handwrite a page that you can transfer into your manuscript later. Email yourself. Writing a couple thousand words can be a daunting task sometimes, but almost anyone can write a couple paragraphs without much effort. Do that a few times over the course of the day and suddenly you’ll be at your target without realizing it. Writing a NaNo book is like writing anything else: you do it one word at a time.

Also, give yourself permission to write shitty stuff. It’s okay if it sucks. It’s okay if it’s so bad you’re ashamed to ever show it to anyone. It’s okay if it doesn’t even make sense. That’s what rewrites are for. Spend November getting your word mileage down. Don’t go back and rewrite anything until December, or even later. Worried you might forget? Leave yourself a note in the manuscript, but then keep going.

What is your NaNoWriMo project for this year?

It’s a fantasy novel called Roast Wyvern and Other Recipes. Think Anthony Bourdain meets Lord of the Rings.

If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say?

“Hi, I’m Ian Thomas Healy, president, publisher, and chief bottle washer of Local Hero Press.” That’s actually my standard introduction at panels when I’m doing them at cons.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind of music?

I tend to create playlists for specific books. My Soldiers of Fortune WIP, for example, is set in the early 90s and is an homage to the hyperviolent comic books of the time. I’m listening to a list with lots of grunge in it right now (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Paw, Screaming Trees, etc.).

Do dreams inspire your writing ideas?

Unfortunately, I almost never remember my dreams.

Who is your favorite author? Why?

My current favorite author is Becky Chambers. Her Wayfarers series is truly amazing.

Favorite time of year?

Summer. I’m a delicate flower and I hate being cold.

What’s your favorite television show?

Right now, I’d have to go with The Expanse. It’s just so good and written so well.

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

With a bone saw, hammer, and chisel.

Please tell us about your celebrity crush.

Hmmm. I’m so bad at knowing celebrities. Pass.

What is your preferred genre to write in?

It’s pretty self-evident from my catalog that superheroes are my butter zone.

How much does music/movies/TV shows influence your stories?

Movies/shows with amazing set pieces, gorgeous visuals, etc. are always inspiring to me. Music of nearly all kinds is also inspirational. Although I prefer music without lyrics for writing, sometimes I still get lost in it and my fingers stop typing as I enjoy it.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I’m a sucker for giving away free ebooks and audiobooks to people who want to review them. Anyone who wants one can reach out to me anytime via my website, facebook pages, or on the twitters.

 

NaNoWriMo link: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/ian-thomas-healy/projects/the-queen-s-feast

Facebook: www.facebook.com/localheropress, www.facebook.com/authorianthomashealy

Twitter: twitter.com/localheropress, twitter.com/ianthealy

Website: www.localheropress.com, www.ianthealy.com

 

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Thank you so much, Ian for taking the time to share with us a little bit about yourself and your writing experiences.  Best of luck for your NaNoWriMo! If anyone has any questions or comments for him please leave them in the Comment section.

#NaNoWriMo #Interview: E.S. Barrison

*This year I wanted to provide a spotlight for a few writers who have decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Enjoy getting to know them and learn from their insights!  If you’re doing NaNoWriMo and would like to be interviewed, go to the Contact page and drop me a message!

 

 

Tell us why do you participate in National Novel Writing Month?

The challenge! I’m already motivated to write, so this month gives me added motivation with a firm deadline to at least hit 50,000 words (although last year I surpassed that, and hope to do so again this year).

It also has been a great way to make friends. Last year I built a close relationship with a few writers I met online…and honestly I can say, though we’ve never met, they’ve become some of my best friends. We help motivate each other and inspire, and without them I don’t think I’d be where I am in my projects now.

How/When did you first learn about NaNoWriMo?

I first learned about it in 2011. I was finishing high school at the time, and the school library was issuing a challenge for anyone who wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure what came out of it as I might have been one of the only ones to join, but I remember joining and winning NaNo! I still have that idea on standby to revisit one day.

How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo?

Let’s see…I participated in 2011, 2012, 2013, and then took a break for a couple years, only to pick it up again in 2017 and 2018. So this will be my sixth year participating!

Of the five previous years, I won three of them.

What is your NaNoWriMo project for this year?

This year I am working on Book 3 in my series, The Life & Death Cycle, titled The Towers of Knoll.

If all goes according to plan, I will be publishing the first book, The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice, next year. Last year for NaNo I worked on the backbone to Book 2, A Pool of Peony, which helped with rounding out the rough edges of the first book.

I’m hoping NaNo this year will help me the same way it did last year.  

Do dreams inspire your writing ideas?

This question is EXTREMELY relevant to my NaNoWriMo idea. Yes! They do!

Often they are little snippets. For instance, I had a dream that involved towers that moved in the water. It sounds weird, but since when aren’t dreams weird? Well, I’ve added an element like that to my story! I won’t go into details…but I think it’s an interesting addition.

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

There are a few ways I get into the mind of my characters: driving, exercising, and brainstorming.

I have a 40 minute commute and often during that time I put myself in the mind of my characters and plot, daydream, etcetera. Usually this is when I work out my worst plot holes and define little things about my characters. I ask myself, oh hey, how would the protagonist react to this situation? Of course, it would help if I could write this down while driving!

Now, I know sometimes it’s hard to focus on anything but your lungs dying when you exercise, but for me it’s when I work out the biggest plot problems and really explore my characters! When I come back from a run, or from the gym, or from a swim I feel reenergized! It’s a good way to clear my head and refocus, since when I’m running…it’s just my characters and me.

Finally, by brainstorming, I don’t mean alone. I mean with others. With my writing buddies, I often toss ideas around or we ask questions like “oh hey, what would your main character do in this scenario?” or “how would they react to this?” and so forth. By working with them, I think I’ve fleshed out my characters…and helped them develop theirs as well!

What is your preferred genre to write in?

Fantasy, without a doubt! I love creating worlds and testing the limits of my imagination!

Anything else you’d like to share with us? 

As I mentioned, I plan to launch my first book, The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice, in 2020. For more information you can check out my website esbarrison-author.com.

If you’d like to add me on NaNoWriMo, you can here: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/elaynabwriting

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Thank you so much, E.S. for taking the time to share with us a little bit about yourself and your writing experiences.  Best of luck for your NaNoWriMo! If anyone has any questions or comments for her please leave them in the Comment section.

 

 

 

 

2019 #NaNoWriMo: Interviewees Wanted!

If you are planning on participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month I’d love to interview you about your project!

 

For those interested, just go to the Contact page and shoot me a message with your email address and I will send you the questions.

 

Look forward to hearing from you!

#WEPFF #WEP The Harvest (#Poem #Poetry)

jjjj

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This is my entry for the Challenge above

 

The Harvest

 

Last week we took the ATV
Down the dirt road to survey the fields
Brimming with corn, wheat, and beans

Daddy said it was going to be the best harvest yet
We’ll finally be able to pay the past dues
And save the fledgling farm

Mother Nature
Oh how we tend to forget about her
At times

She has no mercy, she does not care
Man is nothing but a nuisance
An unnatural specimen in a natural world

Since that day of his joyous declaration
She ravaged the fields with a fury my Daddy never saw before
Ruthless, savage like a shark in a frenzy

This morning, I stayed inside but
I watched as Daddy soberly walked those same fields
His shoulders slumped, his head low

The best harvest turned out to be our worst,
And his final
God rest his soul

 

(Word Count: 142; NCCO)

*This was inspired in part by the recent destructive weather we’ve endured up here in North Dakota with September being the wettest on record, and the freak but historic snowstorm/blizzard on October 10-12 where two feet of (or more) snow blanketed the fields that have only been partially harvested. This may turn out to be one of the worst year for farmers in decades.

It Is Finished #IWSG #Writing

Click on image for site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a writer, it is a good feeling when you can declare a draft of your book finished.  At least until it’s time to begin the edit and revision process.

How many times are you able to do this?

A dozen of times? More?

For me, I was able to do this once.

One time.

It was a book I wrote back in 2008 for the National Novel Writing Month. It was titled Hope Falls.  It was a science fiction-horror story.

I still have this draft although I am not sure if it will ever be published.

The story and the characters remain in my head. They want their story to be told.

But there are so many plot holes and changes that must be made.

So much…

Yeah, I’m intimidated as heck.

So, it continues to sit.  I may get to it. Then again, I may not.

Wait, my muse is telling that I did complete one other book.

I wouldn’t call it a book; it was more of a novelette sized story. A romance one that I wrote specifically for Wattpad. Okay, okay I finished two books.

Drafts.

This newest story may have more hope to see publication of some form. And since it was so short, I don’t feel quite so intimidated to go back and start revising.

Does size really matters? Does this means that the bigger the project the more intimidating it appears when you begin the editing phase?

Hmm..it is true that I tend to focus the majority of my time on the short stories, and more often than not, they are released into the world for others to read. And in fact, just about every book I’ve attempted have been abandoned before I even get to the middle part.

What does this mean for me?

Perhaps I’m not cut out (or destined) to be that prolific writer who could churn out more than two books each year (Nora Roberts is the first to come to mind), and I’m really okay with that. After writing for as long as I have, I have learned to take the middle ground in that I really enjoy (and prefer) to write the shorter stories, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

What about you? Do you find it challenging to complete a long story (or a book)?

 

Today Begins Spooky Season!

Today begins one of my favorite times of the year! Mainly because I love all-things spooky and scary!

I’m planning to write a few short stuff for here so be on the look out!

Will you be writing scary short stories or creating spine-chilling videos/short films? Please let me know via in the comment section below so I can check them out!

To start off the season, I’m posting a spooky video I created two years ago (one-liner story so it’s very, very short!). Enjoy!!!

 

What Is Life Like As An #Usher? #UshDay #Disability #Awareness

I have talked some in past posts about my disabilities; but I don’t recall ever going into detail about them. This post will do just that.

September 21st will be the 5th Annual Usher Syndrome Awareness Day. (Click here for more information) To celebrate, if you will, I wanted to share with you some of what it is like being an Usher.

In a nutshell, an Usher is both deaf and blind.

What gets most people confused is that they assume that being deaf/blind is that you see/hear absolutely nothing.

For most of us with Usher Syndrome, this is not the case.

Usher Syndrome has basically three types:

I: born with profound deafness; vision loss begins before age 10

II: born with moderate to severe hearing loss;  vision loss noticeable by late teens

III: born seemingly normal but progressive hearing loss by early childhood; vision loss begins in early teens or earlier

For a small percentage, Ushers will lose all sight (complete loss of light perception) and hearing. For the remainder, we will maintain some usable vision (all peripheral would be lost but many will retain some degree of central vision) with varying degrees of hearing.

I have Type II.

I was born with moderate to severe hearing loss though this was not diagnosed until I was in Kindergarten.  At that time it was determined that I only had about 35 percent hearing in each ear. Because of this, I was quite behind in speech development which speech therapy for two years helped remedy.

When I was a freshman in college, I began to notice increasing problems getting around campus at night. Two years later, I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (which explained the progressive vision loss).  Shortly after I visited the Ear and Eye Infirmary in Boston where I underwent two days of various intense testing which determined that I had Type II Usher Syndrome (RP with hearing loss).

These all occurred between 1977 and 1992.  Medical experts in these two fields (hearing/vision) were great for trying to pin point exactly what was wrong with me; but, they did little to nothing in helping me find ways to cope with these progressive losses which for many of us tend to lead to severe anxiety and depression.  This, I’ve noticed, still continue today for many however I am seeing a gradual change in the right direction.

So, along with roughly (now) 30 to 32 percent of hearing, I have very little peripheral vision left. I have no night vision whatsoever. Sun light and various indoor lighting hurt my eyes so I need to wear sunglasses nearly all the time. Colors are challenging to tell apart (if you put navy, brown and black beside one another, I cannot tell the difference.  The same for green-blue, orange-yellow, etc.). My depth perception is gradually declining (instead of seeing layers and edges, everything is meshed together. Simply put is that I no longer see things in 3-D instead everything is  in 1-D).  I can still read, but that is growing more difficult. I have tried to use audio books but with hearing loss, that at times has been frustrating.

I am now using a walking cane to help keep me mobile and out and about but at times this is also quite challenging as I really cannot rely on my hearing to pick up hidden dangers.

Over time, I have become more of a recluse and this does not help my depression; however, whenever I do have plans to head out of the house, I am besieged with anxiety that have oftentimes kept me house bound more times than not.

I “retired” from the workforce over four years ago.  At first, it was nice. Now, I’m so tired of staring at the walls and of being so isolated and uninvolved.  The internet has helped but I need to actually get out more. The challenge is finding things and ways to go about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Forget: Looking Back (a 9/11 story)

September 11, 2001. 

The day that changed America.

I know it changed me, and my perspective on the duality of mankind (evil vs. good).

I’m finding it difficult to believe that it’s been eighteen years when it feels like it just happened.  Even now, certain images or sounds still evoke all those terrifying feelings and thoughts I had on that fateful day.

An airplane flying over my house.  A fireman on a street corner.  Any high rise structure.

It took me sixteen years to step back on a plane.  I have flown a few more times since; however I am still unable to shake the uneasiness that disaster can strike at any given moment.

In 2017, the events of 9/11 continued to haunt me so I decided to write a micro-story and eventually turned it into a video, The Bench. In a way, I did this to try and purge some of the feelings of intense sadness and of the anger over what we all had lost that day. I wrote this from a fireman’s perspective drawing upon a specific story I saw on one of the many 9/11 documentaries.

 

 

The actual photo that inspired my story:

(Someone took the iconic picture of a fireman sitting on the bench when he couldn’t find his wife anywhere)

Article detailing his story — Husband and Wife Survive World Trade Center on 9/11

Although his story had a happier ending, I wrote my story with the thought of so many others who’d lost their loved ones. And even worst, never to have their remains found.

 

My Story

 

9/11 had a profound effect on me. For several months afterward, I struggled with depression.

Perhaps in part it had to do with the fact I am from New York state. Born and raised upstate, my hometown was about five hours north of the Big Apple.  I’d spent time among those enormous high rises (yes, including the Twin Towers), roamed many of its streets, and walked along the boardwalks admiring great ships of war.

My husband and I had just relocated from New York to Raleigh, North Carolina in May of 2001.  I’d flew on an American Airline plane back to New York in July for my sister’s wedding.

On that day, a Tuesday, I was a teller working for RBC Centura in one of their branches near REX hospital (only a few short miles from the RDU airport).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annette, another teller, was there initially as we got ready to open the bank. But just before opening, she received a phone call that her grandmother was taken to the ER so she had to leave.

It was a few minutes before opening, Waller, the branch manager, got a call on his cell from his mother to turn on the news.  A plane had crashed into one of the Towers.  We quickly went back to the break room and turned on the small television and sure enough, we could see plumes of smoke rolling out of the North Tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first thought was that a commercial plane had accidentally hit the Tower.

An accident. That’s all it was.

With that, we opened the bank for the day.

As there were no customers yet, I rushed back to the break room to continue following the breaking news when I witnessed the second plane hitting South Tower.

I’d felt like something had knocked the wind out of me as I found myself holding my breath unable to take another.

Oh my god…that was no accident.

When the third plane hit Pentagon less than 20 minutes later, I was thinking, my god, we’re under attack.

My heart was racing. I couldn’t help but wonder – where will they hit next?

Unbeknowst to me at the time, my brother, Rick, was working that very morning at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservation Center in Cary, NC.  He personally knew the coworker who took that agonizing call by one of the flight attendants (Betty Ong) from Flight 11 (the plane that hit the North Tower). But when the call initially came in (between 8 and 8:30am), no one (including him) except for the supervisors knew of the tragic events unfolding.  The coworker was told to keep the call discreet as not to spread panic through the center.  Unfortunately, no one was able to get help in time for her and the passengers of Flight 11.  Rick said that this coworker was so distraught, they had to resigned.

It was sometime before 10am when I began hearing that the FAA were grounding all flights. I also remember hearing that all planes were accounted for…all except for one. That one, Flight 93, crashed in Pennsylvania.

Throughout this whole first hour of being opened, not one single customer came to the branch.  The main phone did not ring. At. All.

I was still the only teller.  Annette was gone.  Remi, the part timer, wasn’t due in for another hour. Throughout this entire building there were only myself and the branch manager.

It felt so eerily strange.

Up to this point, I was feeling a little frantic and unnerved, but managed to keep myself together.

A little before 10am,  I decided to go back and check on the news for any new information and watched disbelievingly as the South Tower collapsed.

 

Oh. My. God. Did I just see an entire high rise crumble to the ground?  How was that even possible?

Less than 30 minutes later, North Tower fell.

There was a loud buzzing in my head as my mind tried to decipher all that had happened. This was such craziness! Who would do such horrific acts?

I was stunned.  I was afraid. Then I became angry.

Whoever was responsible, needed to pay for all those lives lost.

I was so livid, I really wanted to smash something.

Anything.

The phone rang.

It was my husband, Jay, who’s a teller at another bank across town. A former soldier who fought in Desert Storm in 1991, it was his calm voice that snapped me back from the edge I was about to fall from.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

I had to take several deep breaths before I could answer, “Yes.”

After all that had happened up to this point, the bank decided to keep their branches opened; but the rest of the day was a blur for me.  I don’t remember if Remi ever did come in.  I’m sure he did. I do remember the only two customers who came.  One of them took the drive-through, the former owner and CEO of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Everything felt so surreal.  I couldn’t tell if I was awake or asleep. I suppose I was in shock, but I can remember the utter relief I felt when we finally locked the doors, and seeing my husband waiting in the parking lot.

Thank god, I can finally get away from here!

For the next week or so, the skies over us were empty. Silent. The RDU airport nearby was practically barren of all life.  Rick was given nearly a week off before returning to the Reservation Center.

Our lives, everything, had changed forever.

Feeling secured in our country had only been an illusion.

Even today, I can’t help looking over my shoulder every once in a while for the next disaster to strike.

 

What about you? Where were you on September 11, 2001? How did that day change your life?