About mestengobooks

Welcome to Mestengo Books, a gathering place for my work. I wracked my brain for hours to come up with a designation that represents both me and my work. With so many blogs and websites already out there, it was a challenge to come up with something original. Mustang is a popular online moniker because it speaks to strength and endurance. The horse has been a totem animal since I was a child, so I knew it would be a good symbol for me because it represented much of my character: freedom, travel, strength, endurance. Mustangs have survived the wilds of the Americas since the Spanish first brought them here, making them, by nature, most durable. The word mestengo has a neat history; its origin is from 16th century Spanish that translates to wild, stray, ownerless. I knew the moment I saw it I’d found the right name. And anyone who knows me can certainly attest to the fact that I am, without a doubt, una mestenga. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing. Regards, Denise Thunderhawk Denise was a second prize winner of the Southwest Literary Center’s 2006 New Mexico Discovery Awards for her nonfiction, A Bump in the Road.

Serendipity

serendipity

Source: Google Images

Serendipity, defined as fate, destiny, luck, kismet, fortune, coincidence or karma – if you believe in that sort of thing, presented me with an interesting (and not coincidental?) meet this morning.

But first, let me back up.

Last night, the little red battery on my Jeep’s instrument panel popped up while driving home, around 10:30pm. Once parked, I perused the 500+-page manual (a huge pdf on my phone) to find out why. Seems it was telling me there was an issue with low power. Okay… I was taking the car to the garage this morning anyway for an oil change and figured I’d have them check it out.

battery light

The car started no problem this morning and the little red battery didn’t come on. Okay, I thought, maybe it was just a fluke or an electrical fart, used cars can have these issues. About ten minutes later, there it was, taunting me, daring me to continue driving. I arrived at the parking garage of the local Co-op where I have breakfast when I realized I hadn’t had my lights on while on the highway (it was around 7am and still a bit dark). I turned them on just to make sure there wasn’t an issue and BOOM – dashboard lights went crazy and the car died in the parking spot. At 7:15am. When I tried turning the key, all I heard was a ‘click’ sound – oh, joy; that  likely meant the alternator was the culprit and had eaten up the battery power (which would explain the little red battery on the instrument panel).

I called my insurance company and requested a tow – a 45-minute wait. I was surprisingly calm, considering the situation. I decided to forego breakfast and instead gathered a few things from the car that I would need while it was getting fixed at my regular garage, luckily not far from where I was stranded. The tow truck showed up almost exactly 45 minutes later, a jovial fellow at the wheel. The sticky problem was that he couldn’t get his flatbed tow truck into the parking garage, so he had to push my car with me behind the wheel steering, out to the road. (Poor guy; awfully early for that kind of physical demand but he managed wonderfully.)

Fast forward:

I knew there was a Starbucks up the street from my garage so I made for it with the intent of getting an overpriced breakfast and latte. Being a Saturday morning downtown, it’s usually slow (it’s more of a Mon-Fri business district) but hordes of women were piling in and the line came close to running out the door. While waiting for my order, a woman standing nearby struck up a chat with me. Turns out they’re here for a health and wellness convention and she’s a certified nutrition counselor. Hmmm…..

Needless to say, we got to chatting and I told her about my nutrition book, that I’d published three books, taught nutrition classes, etc. She told me that she’s writing a nutrition book (outline complete and chapter 1 in the works) and speaks about her personal experience (she’s lost over 200 pounds) at universities and other small venues. When she explained she was considering self-publishing, I launched into a short explanation of the self-publishing process and offered more information if she had any questions down the road.

We ended up talking for about half an hour and exchanged emails with a promise from her that she’d contact me. I offered proofreading and editing services and also offered to provide her with more in-depth information about self-publishing and traditional publishing based on my twelve years of delving into it. She also gave me the title of book she highly recommends I read, The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. I recognized the title but forgot that I’d perused this book when it came out and found it to not be a good fit for me. It’s a good book and I recommend it if you haven’t read it; it just wasn’t for me. Maybe something about his writing style, but I found his information useful only if you have a strong financial foundation (meaning you’ve got a good amount of money in the bank to invest or available credit cards with high limits, and I have neither at the moment) and a strong support base (which is important for success in any venture).

Serendipity, For Sure

Anyway, I felt it was a serendipitous meeting for both of us, as it lit a lightly dampened fire within me in regards to marketing my nutrition book and finishing some projects and, it motivated her more to complete her nutrition book. Her light and enthusiasm were genuine and contagious and I hope to make contact with her again. Who knows what the outcome can be, but I’m sure it can only be good. People like her are destined for success and I would consider myself fortunate to be able to go along for at least part of the ride.

Has karma surprised you lately? Have you had an unexpected but positive meeting or conversation with another like-minded writer/artist? Like attracts like, after all; perhaps some folks are just meant to connect.

May you have serendipitous moments in the near future to help move you along your writing path.

The Devil’s in the Details

writing a book_jerryjenkins

Source: Google Images/ jerryjenkins.com

Finally, Back At It

I’ve finally gotten back to working on my unfinished novel, a second book in what might turn out to be a series, since I carried my protagonists from Rescue on White Thunder over to my current in-the-works adventure. But I noticed something is missing in some of the chapters – the descriptive details, especially in the surroundings, locations, and buildings in various scenes. I didn’t leave them out completely; I just didn’t build much detail into multiple scenes, which I noticed during recent edits. I fondly remember picturing then describing in detail such scenes in my first published work so I’m not sure where or why I strayed. The following is from a scene I set up where I visit to a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and my impression of his office:

“He led me from the reception area to a room decorated with antique Asian décor; the scent of sandalwood swirled about the room. In the far right corner sat two camelback chairs upholstered in a bold, China red silk fabric embossed with gold Chinese characters. A simple wooden table placed between them held little clutter: a metallic miniature desk lamp, a small red statue of Buddha, and a jade green Chinese teacup containing several pens. On the opposite wall stood a handsomely carved mahogany bookcase crammed with textbooks and other academic works. Some of the books were at least three inches thick and I wondered if he’d read their contents. Most likely. Okay, I’m impressed, I thought. The area rug covering the polished wood floor was noticeably Persian; its earthy tones complemented the bolder colors of the furniture. Placed on top of that striking rug, in the center, was the treatment table. Light in the room glowed softly from a torchier lamp in the corner behind one of the chairs.” (Excerpted from A Bump in the Road, 2007, Lulu Press, Inc.)

You can picture the office decor and layout, right? 

Those Devilish Details

In the current book I’m reading, The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry, all of his scenes are written so vividly I feel I’m there, even though I’ve never been to any part of Russia. This is central to a story’s success – the settings, the backdrops, where characters interact, where antagonists meet up with protagonists, where protagonists escape antagonists, where locations change or merge, etc. Cityscapes, landscapes, seascapes, weather patterns, popular locales – these hold up the story as it moves characters through the plot. Somewhere along the way, I seem to have forgotten that, focused too much on the plot itself and not the intricate details of where events are taking place.

What can make those all-important details a bit difficult is unfamiliarity with certain subject matter, say, architecture or aviation. Some research is necessary to learn the lingo and how to describe them in such a way that every reader can clearly picture where your characters are, what they’re doing, etc.

This is a small example of an architectural description from Steve Berry’s The Romanov Prophecy:

“The Russian consulate was located on a trendy street west of the financial district, not far from Chinatown and the opulence of Nob Hill. The consulate, a red-brown sandstone two-story with an end turret, sat on the corner of a busy intersection. Balconies lined with richly scrolled metal balustrades adorned the upper floor. The roof was trimmed in a cast-iron cresting.”

Even though I’ve been to San Francisco only once, I can picture exactly what this building looks like and I might even be able to find it just because of the detailed description (especially since I looked up the words turret and balustrade and realized I’d seen them before but didn’t know what they were called). This is one of many descriptive paragraphs in the book. I can picture exactly where the characters are, what the weather is at the moment, what they’re wearing, driving, etc., all while watching the plot unfold.

Detail Detail Detail

Attention to detail is the hallmark of a good writer. Noticing this absence is part of my learning process and I fill in the spaces when I edit chapters. It’s a work in progress … in many ways.

My advice? Don’t be afraid to under- or over-describe a place, person, or action; you can always go back and add/remove the adjectives or adverbs. Just make sure the finished product is vivid enough for readers to ‘see’ where the story goes.

The devil is in the details but those details make a successful novel!

In a Competitive Mood? Get Your Write On!

Came across this nifty bit of information in my weekly emails from The Book Designer. If you like writing contests or would like to try one out, here’s a good list for fall 2019 writing contests from Writer Unboxed.

What have you got to lose?

https://writerunboxed.com/2019/08/23/fiction-writing-contests-worth-your-time-in-fall-2019/

Will Illegitimate Books Tip the Scale Back to Traditional Publishing?

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Source: Google Images/eff.org

Counterfeit Books on The Rise

An article on Twitter by Publishing Perspectives caught my eye today while reading posts from Writer Beware®. Written by Porter Anderson, the article outlined and discussed illegitimate online book sales and Amazon’s response (since so many of these deceitful sales take place in their bookstore). It all started when journalist David Streitfeld of the New York Times wrote in June that “Amazon takes a hands-off approach to what goes on in its bookstore” in reference to the surge in counterfeit books on Amazon.   

In his article, David recounts his purchase of “numerous fake and illegitimate Orwell books from Amazon.” I’m not surprised; the advent of the Internet brought with it a host of ne’er-do-wells intent on making money off the backs of legitimate authors. The global marketplace is vast, to say the least; tracking a counterfeit copy of one of your books (or by someone famous like George Orwell) can be time-consuming and expensive, and many authors simply don’t have the resources. It’s a Digital Wild West – every man (or woman) for himself (or herself). The digital gold rush is ON.

After reading this article, one question that concerns me is, how can we be sure that what we’re buying is the real deal?

Make the Old New Again?

In trots the old workhorse: traditional publishing. I believe that at some point, authors and their readers will tire of the con jobs, counterfeits, price gouging, and other deceptive practices running rampant online. Perhaps going back to the way things were with traditional publishing, at least to some extent, can possibly protect authors from the shady side of self-publishing in a digital world.

“While Amazon is the company that has, he’s right, made it possible for even the most marginal books to be suddenly available to everyone everywhere from the most earnest but artless authors (self-published or from the trade), it can also enable the chicanery of ruthless forgers.”

I personally have had my first fiction novel illegally downloaded and offered for free (not illegitimate but definitely illegal) and it was difficult to get the cons to stop, especially since they know there’s not much we can do about it other than request a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) takedown. To my knowledge, my book was not forged in any way. However, deceit is deceit and authors can lose royalties and fan bases as a result of these illegal acts, especially if the thieves are halfway around the world.

The integrity of the written word is under attack and we must diligently protect our works.

 

Copyright Issues

Amazon responded by stating there’s an issue with the “differing copyright timing between countries and sometimes even different titles within the same country.” They also wrote that “there is no single source of truth for the copyright status of every book in every country that retailers could use to check copyright status.”

Should there be a central body where authors can list copyrights for their intellectual property (IP)? What do you think? Amazon is at the forefront of this issue because they created it to begin with – they gave access to everyone (too much of good thing, perhaps), including liars, cheats and counterfeit thieves looking to make a quick buck.

As written in the article, perhaps there is a need for a “central international registry of published works’ copyright status that can support the burgeoning book publishing industry with a reliable test of copyright status.” Would that mean they’d catch all the illegitimate books? Maybe some, maybe not. It would be naïve to expect that every book thief/forger intent on making money from our work would be caught. Part of the problem is the absolute explosion in book inventory. Once a manageable almost one million titles in 1998, according to Bowker’s, there are now more than 40 million titles to track.

We’re needles in a global haystack.

The Bungling of Bundling Book Reviews

Another problem is that Amazon bundles its book reviews together, David writes, “regardless of which edition (legal or not) they were written for. That means an unauthorized edition … can have thousands of positive reviews, signaling to a customer it is a valid edition.”

I can’t help but think that this illegitimacy issue might work in favor of traditional publishing, that it might strengthen their stance in the global and online publishing worlds. It might even help cull the aforementioned “earnest but artless authors” inundating self-publishing book sites. Perhaps traditional publishing will once again become the vanguard and the proverbial measuring stick.

Someone needs to be.

 

To read the Publishing Perspectives article in full, click here.

Where Art Thou, Art?

create quote1

Source: Google Images/sclance.com

I was right.

That Saturn Opposition Moon kicking my butt through November? Evidently it’s an opportunity (though inconvenient, as usual) provided by the Universe for me to get off my butt and make art. Write more, paint more, create, create, create. On a whim, I recently sat down with a reader, Debra, who used Tarot, Numerology, and palm reading to give me some perspective. She validated and reinforced that I have an opportunity, in the midst of a difficult and emotionally charged personal crisis (yep, another one, sheesh), to create whenever I have free time. She explained how my parents set me up to be someone else (and it’s NOT working, I’ll tell you that)…and maybe yours did, too.

Debra also told me that selling/sales (my current gig) is the ‘lowest form’ of vibration and I should be doing the higher form, which is making and selling my art, possibly even starting my own company. Hmmm…seem to remember that Redbubble site, with some of my artwork on it, not doing so well (maybe the wrong format, is all). But I get what she’s saying…I’m under-selling my skills, my art and myself by not actively creating.

Are you guilty of this as well? How many of you are following your true path? How many of you are following a path set by your parents (and their best intentions for wanting us to succeed according to how they defined success)? Artists, painters, writers, and such didn’t raise us all. Most of us were raised by parents who set us on that conformist path of ‘success’: college (Bachelor’s), then more college (MBA), then off to a swanky white collar job that is sure to suck the life out of anyone with even a hint of creativity because we were taught that art is NOT a way to earn a living, that art is NOT for serious-minded folks.

Hmmm…

No wonder there’s so much unhappiness in the world. We’re living false lives. We’ve been deluded into believing there isn’t a place for our art, so we trudge on to the respectable, reliable job to pay the bills and bury the artsy stuff in a box in the back of the closet behind an outfit that hasn’t been worn in three years.

The tricky part is getting back on track after being off that track for so damn long. If you veered off your artistic course, what did you do to get back to your calling? What did you risk? What did you lose or gain?

Saw a sign somewhere today…it read:

“Success isn’t the road to happiness. Happiness is the road to success.” (Buddha)

Happiness in the form of creating our art, perhaps?

 

Getting What We Want, Getting What We Need and a Leap of Faith

believe in yourself

Source: Google Images/ successserieslic.com

Pondering

Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell the difference between something that feels good and something that feels right.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to distinguish between something that I need and something that I want.

So when a serendipitous moment or situation arrives, is it truly so? Or am I too focused on it being something I want? This is what scares me: that I will make a decision because I believe it to be an opportunity when really it’s not, when it’s something I want over something I need. Or just the opposite, when I make a decision based on believing it’s something I need over something I want.

I believe the Universe gives us what we need, not what we want (wouldn’t that cause a host of problems in already too-self-centered world), so maybe all situations are serendipitous, and how we respond is where we succeed or err.

Saturn Opposition Moon is still kicking my ass but has backed off somewhat since Mercury (the planet of communications) left retrograde on August 2nd and is moving forward again (big sigh of relief; no more miscommunications, misunderstandings, for a few months). I still feel philosophical, though I’m working more hours and writing/creating less – which means more money but less time for creative projects. My mind is constantly wandering off to some creative adventure I’d like to begin or complete.

Reviewing

I like to reread my posts; they can often inspire a new blog topic. As I reread my July 12th post on freely living a creative life, one of the quotes I included in the post bothered me. Author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote that whether or not we earn a living from a creative life isn’t the point.

I suppose it’s easy for her to write that, since she does earn a living from her writing.

How many writers/artists/creatives would agree with that statement, I wonder?  

Are you truly happy just creating? I am, to a certain extent, but I admit I’d like to be able to rely, at least partially, on my creativity to support me (I’ll bet many of you would as well). Because creating something (a new novel, a painting, refinished furniture, a sculpture, etc.) is important but to earn a living from that creativity would allow us to be self-sufficient, independent, and not reliant on some J-O-B (with idiot bosses and stupid rules) so we can live our lives as we choose. Earning a living from our creativity would provide the freedom to work to live, not live to work, as so many Americans stuck in the daily grind must do.

Fear of the (Necessary) Big Leap

My biggest fear is to make the leap into 100% creativity, 100% of the time. When I think about it, I question whether I want or can create 100% of the time, since creative juices naturally ebb and flow. Caution in making deep-dive decisions come with age; thirty years ago I would have leaped into the unknown without thinking twice. Now I have responsibilities. Yet something continues to gnaw at me deep inside (could be that Saturn Opposition Moon thing). I’m not living an authentic life because I’m too concerned with that “just get a job” mantra drummed into me by my parents (that I cannot seem to let go of, for some insane reason).

What I want, then, is perhaps exactly what I need – to live creatively, freely, without doubt, without fear, always creating, always moving forward without regrets.

That is the leap of faith I (and you) must take.

Beating the Heat, Posting Book Ads & The Dark Side of Writing

Source: Google Images

The Heat Is On

OMG…summer is definitely HERE. Mid-90s to high 90s, then on up to triple digits (108 the other day), then back down to 90-ish today. No better time to catch up on some summer reading (indoors where the A/C is, of course). I’m currently digging into a Steve Berry spy novel and just finished devouring the latest in Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series (one of my all-time faves). Summer reading is a nice respite from both work (if you have a day job) and writing. The heat can sometimes ‘gunk up the works,’ leaving imaginations stalled. Summertime reading can reignite that engine. So pick up a few good books at your local library or bookstore, grab a large lemonade with ice, a nice lawn chair, and you’re good to go.

What are you reading right now? Some people like to save certain books for summer reading – are you one of those? I’d love to hear what titles people are reading; who knows, you might hook me on one of your fave authors.

Posting On Book Ad Sites – Are They Worth It?

I got this idea from an email newsletter I subscribe to and decided to check out the four options they listed. You know how you ‘just know’ when a website, due to its layout style (too busy, not busy enough, asymmetrical, etc.) turns you off? That’s how I felt when I visited the some of the sites. Nothing impressive and they seemed already full of a lot of books I’ve not heard of – then again, I’m not exactly worldly when it comes to global writers and authors. They just didn’t feel right to me. Suggestions on some good sites for posting book ads are welcome.

Bookswifi.com and creativedesignwriters.com are two paid sites that seem decent enough. Books Wifi offers four options: Premium, Featured, Standard, and Basic and the prices are reasonable. How many hits you’ll get on your book, I have no idea. You can decide whether it’s a worthy expense.

Source: bookswifi.com

Creative Design Writers (.com) is definitely international; there are classifieds, company ads (realty) and fan pages (do people really look at these?); one even reads like a resume/dating site ad. There are ads in other languages, too. Something for everyone, I suppose.

Source: creativedesignerswriters.com

Also offered are SM marketing ($100 USD/month) and SEO ($150 USD/month) but I prefer to work with people I know and who live in my area. Not sure how safe some of these international sites are or who’s running them.

The Dark Side of Writing

A good place to learn about the shadowy world of writing is Writer Beware®, a brilliant website where writing and literary scams are tracked by a team of writers. The current article is on vanity publishers – you know, the companies that make you pay up front for marketing, printing, and other expenditures, only to not receive royalty payments, inaccurate accounting of sales, refusal to print more books, etc. The complaints have been rolling in on these vanity publishers and you should do your due diligence in checking out the site on a regular basis. This is one of the recent articles on vanity publishers that is a MUST-READ:

https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2019/07/from-writer-bewares-files-seven-most.html

Once upon a time, back in the early days of self-publishing, I almost fell for a vanity publisher called Tate Publishing (a Christian-based company, which I was unaware of until I read the heavy Christian verbiage in the publishing contract and changed my mind), now touting itself as Christian Faith Publishing , and is connected to another vanity publisher, Page Publishing. Lots of five-star BBB ratings to go with the numerous complaints, but the good does not outweigh the bad in these cases.

Basically, these vanity publishers take your money because that’s how they make theirs. They don’t follow through on their promises of sales, royalties and book exposure. If you’re new to self-publishing, DO YOUR RESEARCH and AVOID VANITY PUBLISHERS. These days, it’s fairly easy to get your book out there as long as you spend some money on a professional editor, book layout, and book cover design.

“The secret of these vanities is that they present themselves as publishers. Their target customer doesn’t want to self-publish…what they see is the validation of being chosen by a publisher, and because they don’t realize that reputable publishers don’t charge fees, they are vulnerable to this kind of deceptive advertising.” Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware®

Summer is a busy time for writers, readers, and booksellers. Take the time to enjoy a good read and don’t fall for literary predators!

 

Not That Kind of Blog

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Source: Google Images/geekwire.com

Saturn Opposition Moon is Kicking My Ass Right Now

I don’t know how many of you are into astrology or accept its veracity but I’m in a Saturn opposition Moon situation through November that has me re-thinking some very personal issues (career vs. personal happiness is one aspect; others are some specific security/insecurity issues and it’s during this time that I’m to work this all out, lucky me). I feel more philosophical these days (which is what comes with age, oh joy) and it shows up in my writing more and more. I’ve realized it’s who I am (and have become more so) and my writing reflects that aspect, even in this blog. I feel a greater need to be even more creative (like it’s pushing everything else out of my mind lately; this is my 3rd blog in the space of a week because the words keep flowing) and often find myself daydreaming about creating in other ways (painting, fabric painting, mosaics, photography, etc.). My creativity seems to have worked its way to the forefront of my life; I’m still not sure if it’s a good thing (because it’s the road I’m meant to be on) or just some wishful thinking (as an escape from those pesky issues). I think it’s part of what I’m forced to work out during this transition.

Not That Kind of Blog

Mine is not a how-to-be-a-better-writer kind of blog, I never intended it to be. Though I might pepper in a few how-to posts, my blog has a more philosophical, narrative and personal style. Since the beginning, I’ve gained and lost readership as a result of writing this blog from a different approach. As with many (insecure) writers, I’m learning to be okay with the ups and downs and continue 1) as if it doesn’t matter in the long run, and 2) believing that some readers will gain new perspectives on their own writing from my personal perspectives.

What Do You Gain?

Are you gleaning anything positive from my posts? Do they help you become more introspective in relation to your writing skills and style? Do my posts help you look at the work you’re creating with a new set of eyes, with a renewed sense that what you’re creating is good enough? This is my hope, my goal. Sharing on a deeper level, to me, is more profound than focusing only on the technical aspects of writing (how to be a better writer, how to sell more books, etc.). Depending on your genre, philosophical or narrative posts may be more helpful; maybe not. It’s all a crapshoot anyway, right?

Walk With Me

So there it is. I hope you’ll stay with me even though I’m not trying to ‘teach’ you how to be a better writer (at least not directly). If we travel this road together long enough, something will stick.

And that’s all that really matters.

A New Addition to the Family

I’m passionate about many topics but the subject of homelessness has moved to the top of my list recently. Here in California there has been an exponential increase in people losing their homes, for a variety of reasons. Three of the main reasons are 1) increased rents (and illegal evictions); 2) wildfires/natural disasters; and 3) loss of jobs or loss of full-time jobs.

Loss is Loss

While it’s easy to feel compassion for folks who have lost their homes due to wildfires (or other natural disasters, as seen around the world right now), there seems to be less compassion and understanding for people who have been priced out of their homes (mainly apartments) here in California, creating a surge in homelessness (including many who work). Sadly, one of the largest increases in recent months here in northern California has been in the senior/over 65 community – it saddens me to think about elderly people forced to move out of their homes because they can no longer afford rent, food, and prescription medications. But it’s true.

Jobs are also getting more difficult to find and many people are scrambling to work in any capacity. I currently work a part-time job for a company that, for the most part, does not offer many full-time positions. So many part-time employees are scrambling to make ends meet with ever-changing schedules that don’t allow room for a second part-time job. (On any given day, you’ll see jobs posted on Indeed where it’s written in the posting they’re accepting only the first 700 applications! Who can compete with that?)

I’m seeing it everywhere: TV, SM, newspapers. So I can’t help but want to write about it, tell a few stories, and hope to be a small but positive effect on changing attitudes and finding solutions. So I had a brainchild: why not blog about the situation? Why not tell people’s stories? After all, everybody has a story, right? I’m bothered by the lack of serious action by our local government (and the national one as well, since it deems national security and warfare far more important than caring for its citizens by raising their standard of living) so I need to speak up.

Follow Along, If You Like

If you’re interested in following the journey into homelessness and what stories I may find there, please follow my stories at  The Homeless Project. At some point, I may even hit the road to find the stories that need telling. In the telling, perhaps, I can awaken whatever sensibilities need awakening to push people into action, whether large or small. Every step forward is progress on the road to success.

Hope some of you will take the journey with me.

 

Breaking News: You Don’t Need Permission to WRITE/PAINT/DANCE/LIVE CREATIVELY

artistic image3

Source: Google Images/Art Inspirations by Debra at passthefeather.org

Big Magic

I recently finished (with much sadness, it was such a wonderful read) Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic (she wrote the delightful book Eat, Pray, Love). Basically it’s about the magic of inspiration, the freedom to create without another’s permission, and the magic of living a creative life. I devoured each chapter, dog-earing so many pages it looks more like an accordion than a book!

Somewhere along the way, like she writes in the book, I got it all wrong. I believed, wholeheartedly, that I needed the RIGHT desk/workspace/ideas/inspiration/subject, etc. to go ahead and begin creating. That I needed someone to tell me that what I was doing – actually, creating – was okay. I needed permission to create.

Turns out I’ve been creating all my life. I still have sketches from grade and high school (but I stupidly got rid of my oil  and acrylic paintings because I thought they weren’t good enough to show anyone) and a few poems I wrote. I re-discovered them while cleaning out a box during one of my many moves to another new place a few years back. (And I still keep them tucked away, out of sight, for some unknown reason.)

sigh…

Don’t Be Afraid

Then I reached the “You’re Afraid” chapter and found many of the same excuses I’ve used over the years to not create. Let’s see if you find yourself in any of these (there were many more but I think you’ll get the gist):

  1. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or – worst of all – ignored.
  2. You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it.
  3. You’re afraid somebody else already did it better.
  4. You’re afraid everybody else already did it better. (You know, you’re not original enough…)
  5. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline.
  6. You’re afraid you don’t have the ‘right’ [quotes added] kind of work space, or financial freedom or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration. (This was and has always been one of my lamest excuses for not creating something. That I was always so sensitive to my artistic environment; that the ‘wrong’ time or place or direction I faced with my desk would surely ruin any chances of creating something GREAT that would be enjoyed by ALL; that without all of the ‘right’ things necessary to SUCCEED I would, after all, definitely FAIL.)
  7. You’re afraid you neglected your creativity for so long that now you can never get it back. (It must be my fault – since I couldn’t get the setting ‘just right’ and now I’m doomed to never create again. Hurrumph.)
  8. You’re afraid of being a one-hit wonder.
  9. You’re afraid of being a no-hit wonder.

And so on….

You Don’t Need Permission, After All

But here’s the BEST part, the REVELATION that so many of us (especially me) need to hear (more than once,obviously):

“You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life. Maybe your parents were rule-followers or too busy being melancholic depressives, or addicts, or abusers to ever use their imaginations toward creativity. Maybe they weren’t makers…maybe just pure consumers. Maybe you grew up in an environment where people just sat around watching TV and waiting for stuff to happen to them.”

This was my childhood: mom and dad plunked in front of the TV at the end of exhausting days of housework [mom] and construction [dad], smoking cigarettes and barely speaking to each other (or us) while watching variety shows or sitcoms. Art was what hung on someone else’s walls (our living room was decorated with my parents bowling trophies, including the back end of a donkey for my dad’s team coming in last place); I certainly wasn’t encouraged to follow that road. Go to college. Get a job. Those were my parents’ mantras all through school. How on earth could I escape that fate? I’m still struggling to make room for creativity, to give myself PERMISSION to create WHATEVER I want to create, regardless of what you or whoever thinks about it. My sister was even more talented than me and she, too, was forced to become a square peg in a round hole, to abandon all artistic dreams for a future where putting bread on the table was the most important (and only) thing one could do with one’s life. It was the sensible thing to do, after all, right? (sneer)

“You want to write a book? Make a song? Learn a dance? Draw a penis on your wall? Do it. Who cares? Let inspiration lead you wherever it wants to lead you.” 

In other words, stop worrying what others will think; you don’t need their permission or approval; just create, damn it! And damn anyone who believes differently! Because, in the end, it’s all just creativity. So it really doesn’t matter all that much. Get it?

Good.

Entitlement (the right kind)

That said, you need to understand the concept of entitlement – not the narcissistic American ‘I-deserve-everything-I-want‘ kind of entitlement but the kind of entitlement that lets you live freely with your creativity intact:

“… in order to live this way – free to create, free to explore – you must possess a fierce sense of personal entitlement… Creative entitlement simply  means believing that you are allowed to be here and that – merely by being here – you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.”

A Final Word

These are two of my favorites from the book – because they’re true, no matter what anyone says:

“Pure creativity is magnificent expressly because it is the opposite of everything else in life that’s essential or inescapable (food, shelter, medicine, rule of law, social order, familial responsibility, death, taxes, etc.). Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting… a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.”

This is a woman deeply in love with her creativity. This is a woman who knows she is FREE to create without boundaries, permissions, critiques, etc. This is the kind of person I aspire to become and after reading her book, I know I am several steps closer to the clarity that I am FREE TO CREATE simply because I MUST CREATE. Because it’s who I AM.

“You can live a long life, making and doing really cool things the entire time. You might earn a living with your pursuits or you might not, but you can recognize that this is not really the point. And at the end of your days, you can thank creativity for having blessed you with a charmed, interesting, passionate existence.”

Amen, sister.

So get out there, folks, and create SOMETHING.

I dare you.

Amazon Gets Bulk of Complaint in AAP Filing With US Trade Commission

amazon complaint pic2_LI

This just in from Publishing Perspectives:

An interesting read!

The Association of American Publishers filed a statement with the FTC supporting scrutiny of big tech companies, especially Amazon and Google.

Source: Amazon Gets Bulk of Complaint in AAP Filing With US Trade Commission

Freelancing Part 3: Would This Work For You?

20 ways to freelance-elna cain

Source: elnacain.com

Here are the final 3 lessons on finding freelance work, especially if you’re a beginner. I was skeptical to begin with (I tend toward cynicism naturally) and wasn’t all that impressed with what she offered. Not that she doesn’t offer quality information or lessons. It’s just that I can find what she’s offering all over the Internet so her services/products aren’t unique. Honestly, once I finished perusing her 6-day lesson, I got the impression that she moved quickly from freelance writing to selling her ‘secret to success.’

Lesson 4It’s all about you.

Again, Elna touches on something that many bloggers and writers before her have discussed – the lack of confidence in your ability to earn money by writing for other people. The DOUBT and FEAR that people have about getting themselves out there, that they don’t really have something to offer. Heard it before but I agree it’s an important aspect to face and move beyond in order to succeed.

Lesson 5Time to source freelance jobs and apply for them.

Assuming you’ve worked out the doubts and fears, she emphasizes the best way (actually, I think it’s the only way, in the beginning) is to start applying for freelance gigs on various sites. A no-brainer; how else might you find work? Once again, she inserts her call to action in the middle of the narrative (the hook). Good advice re free job boards and she lists some sites to visit. Then she offers another 53 sites by clicking on a link to a page on her website that is chock full of information. Overall, some useful information for beginners here.

Lesson 6Step up to pitch.

In this final free lesson, she details successful pitching habits, including her “proven five-step pitching formula”:

  1. Pitch often – make a goal to send 10 pitches a week, or if you’re super competitive, try sending 10 pitches every day before 10 a.m.
  2. Cast a wide net – pitch to any job ad that you’re somewhat qualified for. In the beginning, you’ll have more success if you’re not too picky.
  3. Pitch in the morning or on the day the ad is published. Heard the saying, the early bird catches the worm? Well, the early freelance writer catches all the gigs.
  4. Do some research about the company or startup. Many job ads tell you the name of the company so run a Google search to check them out. This can prove to be helpful when pitching.
  5. Include a name in your pitch – make it more personable by finding out the name associated with the job ad. This can be tricky but looking at their company website is a start.

She closes with some good advice on how to write that pitch letter.

All in all, the information in the last three segments is useful, including the 53 sites for finding freelance work. I like the details on building a pitch letter. And, of course, she closes with another call to action to sign up for her class and ends with an offer for a “special exclusive lesson + gift for you!

Take away the sales pitches and you’ll find a few good pointers.

Will I sign up for her class?

No.

Will I continue to subscribe to her website?

No.

Does she offer anything NEW that isn’t already out there on the web?

No.

That’s my pitch to you. Take from it what you will.