When the going gets tough–

Today is the first day I’ve been able to really catch up on emails and social network stuffs in quite some time. Since August 25th, really. While checking my updates for the website, I noticed that my first official D.B. Graves post was done on 8/25/12. This was also the day my life forever changed.

As a writer, we draw from personal experiences to feed our stories. Whether it’s with raw emotions, actual places we’ve visited, or just silly or ridiculous occurrences that simply add to the authenticity of a character, our own experiences have an impact. What my latest experiences will bring to my writing I have yet to discover.

I generally don’t talk too much about my personal life. Sure, I’ll post tid-bits about my son because some things are universal, like parenthood. What many people don’t know, unless you really know ME, is that I’m a huge ‘mama’s girl.’

My mother is the one person on this earth that I call my ‘best friend.’ I have good friends and close friends, but only one BEST friend. That spot is reserved for my mama. Always will be.

Before you get the wrong idea from this post, my mother has not passed, but she is very ill. On August 25th, I learned just how ill she was. Now, I won’t get into any sorted details, but it’s not great. Mama has spent years sugar-coating how bad things are. Since I live in another state, and rarely get to see her, I wasn’t aware of the facts. Now I am.

In the last several weeks, I’ve experienced a broad spectrum of emotions. Sadness. Fear. Hurt. Anger. Weakness. Anxiety. Panic. Strength. Disquiet. Frustration. ALL over the board. I’ve had to make decisions that I didn’t want to make. Disappoint people I didn’t want to disappoint. I’ve called people out on their BS and put my trust in others that some may not find trustworthy. I’ve had to see my mama at her very worst and not shed a tear, to keep my wall of strength up so she had something to believe in. I’ve had to look my mother in the eye, while she lay in a hospital bed hooked up to IV antibiotics, and tell her I can’t help her, that I can’t give her what she wants. All while not shedding a tear, but speaking from a place of love and protection. Those who haven’t had to do this don’t know how truly difficult it is.

I’m sure my recent experiences will likely translate into my writing in some form, but what really shocked me was the self discovery. Before hopping on a plane earlier this month, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand. The plan changed while in CA, but in a good way. My mother is getting the help she needs and will one day (hopefully) be healthy enough to move closer to me.

But this journey showed me just how strong I am as a person, a daughter. I didn’t know if I’d be able to take on what was expected of me. But I did. I AM. And I will continue to do so. Was it how I was raised? Part of my DNA? Who knows? What I do know is, no matter what happens, there’s a well of strength buried deep inside. I am a fighter. I will do what must be done. May not always like it, but I will do it.

The same can be said as the writer’s journey. There are many times where self doubt plague us, where giving up is the easiest way to end the pain. But we don’t. Not because we are super human or even psychotic. It’s because we must do what needs to be done. Writing is in our blood. It’s what makes us who we are. So there IS no giving up, there IS no easy way out, there IS no backing down because the enormity of the task is too great. The writing MUST be done so we DO it. We must believe in ourselves and hold onto the strength buried deep inside. There is no easy road if the goal is worth achieving.

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” -Frank A. Clark


There is room at the top for ALL of us!

Many, many apologies to everyone for sort of falling off the face of the earth. With managing some health issues, my 10 1/2 year old Lab’s health issues, and seemingly endless life crap, things just sort of…well, went to the crapper. That’s me being honest, and PG-13.

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. As you may have seen from my multiple tweets on the subject, I was very excited about a wee event called UtopYA Con that took place right here in Nashville. A start-up convention for YA paranormal writers, authors, and all the freakin’ readers who obsessstalkLOVE to read! I knew it would be the cat’s meow, and I was right. Over the next several days, or weeks as time wills, I will try to recap some of the awesome I experienced over the last couple days.
For now, I just have to give my thanks. Many, many thanks.
Janet Wallace, Nashville’s Kid-Lit Meet-Up group organizer and owner of Social Deviants, birthed this idea for UtopYA and she did a phenomenal job. This was the second time I’ve gone to this sort of event, the first being the SCBWI Conference in NYC. SCBWI was big and awesome and crazy informative, but UtopYA had something in it I didn’t really find at SCBWI NYC. I thought I had, and I’m sure it IS there, but it was not as blazingly obvious as it was at UtopYA.
That thing, is HEART.
I’m not a hard core writer. I will be the first to admit this. There are so many freakin’ awesome writers and authors out there. Me? I’m the sort of misfit kid in the back of the room that never really…’fit.’ But I LOVE to write. It has freed me in so many ways over the last two years. Quite literally, I have finally found…me. It took thirty mumble-grumble years to do it, but hell if I found her finally.
UtopYA oozed with wonderful people that were just like you and me. Some were traditionally published, most were either indie published or self published, some just budding out on the page. Did they throw it around like a fluorescent pink boa with diamond crusting? Nope. Did they spout stats like a stock broker on crack and zero sleep? Nuh-uh. Were they welcoming? Were they excited to meet someone who has read, or is dying to read, one or all of their books? You bet your buttered biscuit baby!
When I say UtopYA has the heart I didn’t find at other, larger, meets, I mean it. We were all there for the same reason: we love YA paranormal. There was a common unity no matter where you are in your career. The writing community really IS a community. It is a family that I am so very proud to be a part of. I still feel sort of like a distant cousin tip-toeing around the edges at times, but I still felt it. I felt the heart of this Con. I felt the heart of UtopYA.
Will it be the same in 2013? I sure as hell hope so! But really, I think it will. Everyone there, I think, picked up on the same vibe. We are readers. We are writers. We are authors. We are a group of people who LOVE to help the next coming. “There is room for all of us!” “A success for one, is a success for all.” We all strive to the same goal: readers. And readers LOVE to read…a LOT.
The lovely Willow Cross said in a panel I attended, and I will paraphrase here: it might take her readers a week to read her novel, what are they going to do with the other 51 weeks of the year? ‘If you like my books, here, check out my friend’s book too!’
That is what we do as writers, as authors. Support. Community. Family. Friends. You CAN do it. We ALL can do it.
Willow Cross, Raine Thomas, Amanda Havard, Myra McEntire, Chelsea Fine, Tiffany King, L.M. Preston, Angeline Kace, Teal Haviland, Tammy Blackwell, M.R. Polish, Amy Bartol, Abbi Glines… oh my word there are just too many. All of these women were phenomenal to meet and share experiences with. We laughed, we cried, we joked, we teased. We were just like those crazy cousins that get together at family reunions and gossip over who is doing what.
And why?
Because we are a community. We are a community of writers. And there is room for ALL of us.
Will YOU be a part next time? UtopYA Con 2013 is on the books. Come be part of the HEART of this awesomesauce community. You will NOT be disappointed. Come play. Come laugh. Come learn. Come fan-girl. Come be a part of the family.

Footnote. Yes, I totally cried writing this whole thing. But I’m a crier. That’s how I roll y’all. =^)

Life, Love and Lit

I am such a slacker! Jeez Louise! What is wrong with me? Actually, nothing is really wrong with me, I just get busy with … life. As a full time professional at the day job, and a full time mommy of a two and a half year old, there is little time for much else.

So how does one create balance in Life in order to fit Reading and Writing into it?

Ah yes, the question I would love to be able to answer. But, alas, I have no words of wisdom. I’m still trying to figure it out myself. The day job is important to me because, well, it pays my bills and feeds my family. Kind of important stuff, right? The love of my family is also important to me because my son is at an age where he needs interaction constantly. His little brain is going ludicrous speed and I am doing my best to keep up. (Yes, I totally threw in a Spaceballs reference) Boog’s imagination is so full of awesomeness right now, I hate to lock myself away in a book or writing for fear I might miss something. Never mind the super cute, but sort of pathetically humbling, moments where he sticks his face between mine and the laptop screen and says, “look at ME, mom!”

But I need the moments to myself to do what I love in order to remain sane, or at the very least, likable. Trust me, you don’t wanna be in the same zip code when this chickie here has the cranky pants on. Not pretty. Linda Blair ain’t got nuthin on me. So what do I do? At the moment it’s all about multi-tasking. It is not unusual to find me standing in the kitchen stirring pasta with one hand and have the other hand holding an open book away from the steam. The only problem with this is chicken tends to get a little too done at times. [Insert sheepish shrug]

The same comes with my writing. I am a horrible blogger, this I know. I see other ‘professional’ bloggers who post nonstop and I bow to their mastery. I just can’t do it. If I manage to read, and finish, a book, I will write up my review and post my thoughts. If something comes to mind that I feel needs to be shared with the masses, I will post. Doing it every day, or multiple times a day, just doesn’t happen.

Working on the WIPs falls into this as well. I do my best to find time on the weekends to dedicate even just an hour to writing a new chapter, or editing a chapter, with the WIPs. This usually happens while I have an ear on the washing machine as well. Write a paragraph, pull clothes out of dryer, clothes in washer go to dryer, fill washer, write a paragraph, rinse, repeat.

I have also been known to abuse down time at the day job. Shhhhh… Don’t tell anyone, K? *grin* I keep my updated goodies on a memory stick that travels everywhere with me. OCD? Over protective? Slight problem with control? Um…yeeeaaahhhh. Wee bit. So when there is down time in my day, I will plug the memory stick in, crank up the iPod, and discretely disappear into my imaginary world for a paragraph, or page, or even a full chapter depending on how dull the day is.

So now I ask, is this normal? Do any of you out there suffer from the same time management issues? How do you fit in writing into a busy world of full time demands? Is it possible to be a full time professional, full time mom, AND a full time writer? Or even a part time writer? But then can you still fit in the ever important READING? What tricks have you learned? What is the weirdest place or time you have managed to fit in your passions?