Not Another Nano Post!

nanowrimo
First of all, a quick summary of Nanowrimo. National Novel Writing Month. Na-No-Wri-Mo. This is an online community that coalesces every November in an attempt for individuals to type up a 50,000 word novel in a single month. Whew!

Five reasons you need to sign up for Nanowrimo 2013:

1. Nano allows writer newbs a chance to dip in their toes to the wordy water. If you are unsure or just beginning in the writing community, Nano is a great way to try it out and meet the regulars and not so regulars of the writing world.

2. Nano puts your story on paper. If you have a story knocking around in your head like a pinball machine on crack but don’t know what to do about it, Nano is the perfect solution. The team running Nanowrimo are some of the most enthusiastic, helpful people I have ever read. They give a step by step tutorial, inspiration emails and messages, and encouragement throughout the month.

3. Nano puts your butt in the chair. If you love to write but fall to the prevalent procrastinator munster, Nano is a good choice. It gives you a month where “No Excuses” is practically a motto! It forces you to sit down and create.

4. Nano puts a deadline in place. Sometimes as writers, we elongate a process to the forever degree. Though scary, a deadline should be used as another tool for us to get our crap done. And it feels SO good when we reach that goal with success.

5. Nano is fun! Come on. Smothering yourself with words and allowing your imagination balloon to fly free while you take your coffee intravenously. What’s not to love?

Nano is a single day away but you still have time to sign up and brainstorm the story that you know the world needs to read.

Happy Writing!

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The Introvert Conundrum

I can’t help that I’m an introvert.

I once took a personality test. Not anything crazy accurate like Myers-Briggs, but a simple school psych questionnaire that I volunteered for because my sister needed test subjects. There were numerous columns holding groups of positive or negative description words that I had to choose from to describe myself. Jeez, those freakin’ tests suck. I am probably the worst person to describe myself because I do not see myself clearly. Course, neither does anybody else.

I guess we are all just perspectives when you get right down to it.

When I took this test, I made sure to mark creative, messy, loyal, smart ass et cetera. But when I read the word introvert, I paused. It was placed in a column along with various other words constituting weaknesses.
I’ll admit it. I was offended. I had check-marked smart ass…so I also told everyone I was offended. How could a societal psych test that reached probably thousands of people at the least, rightfully list introvert as a negative aspect of a personality? They might as well say I will never be smarter than the average bear because I am blonde. Currently. (I have a hair color changing problem. Is there a picture on my page? That’s not what I look like anymore.)

Incognito notation aside, I do not think that introversion should be listed as a major personality weakness. If you disagree with me, stop reading right now because I am going to do my best to offend you.

Nah. Just kidding. If you’re reading this then I like you.
What I Think

Growing up, I was a quiet, oblivious kid utterly average in every way. Once I got old enough to think, incorrectly, that average didn’t win you friends, I started losing any natural confidence I possessed. Just a typical sob story of a preteen, I know.

When I turned fourteen, I met a girl. In my eyes, she was the epitome for living life to its fullest. This girl was funny, confidant, loud, shameless and she attracted people like a dumpster attracts raccoons, or flies, or whatever other creature would make this analogy seem the opposite of what I’m going for. This girl had the best damn-the-world attitude I had ever seen and I envied her it because it made people stop and watch.
I thought, if only I could be more like her. Me, myself and I started forming a plan to make this happen. I had no idea at this point that I had natural tendencies towards certain personality traits, no idea that becoming a loud, upbeat, abrasive type of person might actually work against me.

Any information I had on extroversion and introversion was minimal, and like any teenage, didn’t apply to me. To sum it up in one sentence using an over appreciated cliché that doesn’t explain anything, extroversion is an inclination to feel at home in a crowd, while introversion is the inclination to feel alien in a crowd.
So many people long to be the type of person that takes life by the gonads and drags it along on all sorts of adventures. At fourteen years old, I thought I was flawed because I had a hard time raising my hand in class. I thought I needed to change because others said their thoughts aloud while I kept mine to myself. I thought I was broken because I was an introvert.

introverts-comic

I so badly yearned for a shift in my own personality, that I worked for years to perfect the outward appearance of an extrovert. I did my best to portray only a specifically crafted portion of myself. In some aspects of my life, it worked like I planned, in others it at least gave me the confidence I needed to play it off for awhile.

For years, I did this. My husband married an extrovert. When things in my life settled into the routine of adulthood, I slowly started to realize where I had erred in this grand scheme.

I asked a question online to friends. Am I an introvert or an extrovert? It was, roughly, half and half. Nobody seemed to know, least of all me. My own mother told me that I was a true contradiction because so often my physical responses were different from my verbal ones and my worldview clashed with my impulses. To this day, I have no clue what I will wake up as. Perhaps today I will go skydiving with a group of friends and then out to the city to make an evening of it. Perhaps today I will stay inside alone, because the thought of facing other people terrifies me.

I started writing like an addict during this time, which solidified one thing. I was an introvert. No matter what I had attempted years to dissolve, my core personality is introverted. Any variant is a habit, nothing more. And as with every habit, if it is not encouraged it will fade into oblivion. No, I am not saying that every writer is introverted, though it does take a little something to sit by yourself for hours with only the voices in your head to play with.

My husband asked me one day shortly after we married what happened to the girl he fell in love with. He didn’t ask in a mean or spiteful way. Let me assure you, my husband adores me as much as I do him. But he was curious and probably a little concerned at the obvious withdrawals in me. Withdrawals that were nothing more than me being alone, processing the world. And yet, they were something he wasn’t used to. And why would he be? I was an extrovert. I was a doer, not a thinker.

I answered that I didn’t think that girl ever really existed.
I was sad. He was sad. We moved forward.

One morning two-ish years after our wedding day, he woke me up and showed me a video he found on being an introvert in this world. He laughingly told me that this was obviously me. The world suddenly seemed beautiful. My husband loved me, even though sometimes I liked to sit alone while he would always choose to immerse himself amongst people. Shortly thereafter, I found a book by a woman named Susan Cain titled, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”
You should read it. Don’t put it on your list. Read it now. Like, go. Now. I will wait….
http://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking/dp/0307352153

Once I realized that I had strengths that didn’t involved lying to myself and everyone around me, my world became clearer every day. For years I functioned as an extrovert, exhausting myself in what felt like a never-ending cycle of throwing my body against walls and shouting about how fun it was. Now I can utilize the best of both worlds. Head out with friends, recharge alone. I can do this because I comprehend what is happening in my own mind.

To know me, one must understand that I am an outgoing introvert, and a solitary extrovert. Sometimes, I am a contradiction and that is okay.
Let me know what you think.

Also, here is the video my husband found that made us both realize how natural being an introvert is!

CoolVideoYouShouldWatch

Calista Smith speaks!

First off let me start by saying thank you to Calista Smith for not only giving me her writer bio but also allowing me to edit her novel “Rocky Romance”! She has some amazing writing talent and I think we will be seeing her name in print soon! If you want to talk to Calista more about writing, head to her FB page!

Now, on to Calista.

Author Journey by Calista Smith
Calista Smith
When I was younger, writing was my escape. I was a pretty reserved child and writing helped me to express what I was feeling. I started out mostly writing poetry. The older I got, the more I wrote…until my collection grew to well over 500 poems, in my early teen years.

As life went on, I had less and less time to write. Usually, when I would write, it was when things weren’t going so well and I needed a way to express myself, because I wasn’t able to articulate it aloud. My emotions propelled me to put pen to paper. Eventually, even that dwindled away. Maybe I didn’t need it as much, as I matured. Regardless, I stopped writing for a while.

Sometime last year I got the itch again. I didn’t want to write poetry, though. I had these characters rattling around in my brain, waiting to tell their story. Anyway, here I am. My first book is written and after getting some more feedback from my awesome Beta Readers, I will be tightening it up and sending it off to an editor. So far the feedback I have received has been incredibly helpful and I’ve appreciated all of it, both the good and bad. I have to say, sharing my work was quite terrifying. I’m not sure I’ve gotten the hang of it, even still.
Each time I’ve sent it to be read, I get so anxious to know what the person will think of it. I pretty much drive myself nuts worrying.

I can’t wait for it to go live…and yet, I am so nervous for that day to come. Rocky Romance Series will be a three book series. Book one – Breaking Down should be available pretty soon. Book two – Breaking Away is already halfway written as well. So, hopefully there won’t be too long of a wait in between.

This has been an incredible journey so far. I have met wonderful people all along the way, and I look forward to what the future holds. I feel very blessed to be on this path and I’m so thankful to all of the people who are on it with me, including my amazing family and friends, who are so incredibly supportive of me. I’m especially thankful for my husband. I know I couldn’t have done this, without his love and support.

For more from Calista, check her out on Facebook!

Nobody Wants to be a Dud….

Some people are happy little bees who whistle while they work and smile at strangers and find joy in persevering through the tough times. Some people. Oh, how I envy those damn workers bees. Unfortunately, others have more resemblance to me. I hate bees, can’t whistle worth crap and avoid all people like the plague.
Don’t get me wrong, work is cool, or whatever it is I’m supposed to say for all you positive minded people who need reassurance of life goals. Wide eyed interviewee responds, “Well, Person I’d like to Hire Me, I think my biggest weakness is that I just work too hard.” Shucks.People Suck

Come on, people. This is the circle of trust. If I had to answer honestly I would say that one of my biggest problems (Yes, there are so many more than one. Stop being judgey judgers!) is starting projects. Is this something you want to tell your potential boss? Nope. I barely want to tell myself. Nobody wants to be the kid that sits there like the dud while everyone else glitters their construction paper with a plethora of brilliant ideas that sprung free from their creative minds. Nobody wants to be a dud.

See, the problem with a dud is that it doesn’t hear the starting shot. There are loads of reasons why it didn’t hear the sign shouting GO! NOW! KABOOM! Sometimes there are mechanical issues. Sometimes that bomb just wants to sit on its ass because it’s tired and wants a break. Sometimes it’s conflicted about its end goal and perhaps it has decided to become a humanitarian.

I know I am leading you to believe that t really is okay to be a dud and stand stupidly while everyone else runs forward, but that is not my plan! Do not be a dud. Duds do not accomplish anything.
So let’s relate this to something interesting.

I wanted to write a story a few years ago so like a good writer, I grabbed a snack, browsed the internet for awhile, texted my husband half a dozen times and sat down to write. The blank page can be one of two things at any given time. It can be an unexplored land teeming with new discoveries, or a barren wasteland with no water, food or conversation. A dud will always choose the latter. That day, when I sat down to write. I became a dud. And it sucked.
thirsty-vader_o_996830
I will say this again. Don’t be a dud.

Soooo, how does one a take a momentous task such as creating a story from scratch and not freeze at the starting line. How does one start? I have narrowed down a list to five items that could help a writer go as kablooey at the next writer. I mean that in the best way possible. :/

1. Start with a prompt. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Grab a writing prompt. They are everywhere online and off. I wrote a short story about an alien love affair from a prompt I created myself. The parameters? Girl who can hear thoughts. Boy who is alien. Go.

2. Start with a coffee. I would never lie to you. For certain people all it takes is a Pumpkin Spice Latte and an Everything bagel to find the groove. People’s brain juices flow differently. Some need a wheelbarrow of inspiration and others need pumpkin spice. But the jokes on them, folks. They may write more in fall…but we have the rest of the year! So there.

3. Start in medias res. Begin in the middle. Leaping into the fray of a tense fight scene or tip-toeing through a suspenseful escape gets the reader involved immediately. So how can it NOT absorb the writer? Be a brave little storyteller and jump in!

4. Start with a character. A lot of times it is not the story that captures our souls but the characters. They are begging to have their stories told. If the plot is eluding you, get to know your characters better. One thing will always lead to the other.

5. Start with the end. Endings can suck. I’ve never been particularly good at them. They are a super necessary evil though and they hold a lot of power. As a writer your last words are what is going to stick with your reader. If they are bad…yikes. Let’s not think that way. Make them count! Starting at the end can give you a more cohesive view of your story and by doing it first you can keep the goal in mind while writing.

These five ways to start are not difficult. If one doesn’t work for you, try the next. Heck, try them all at least once. One thing I love about being a writer is the ability to trudge various paths and know that none of them will lead me to the same spot. New scenery will always be waiting a writer’s journey and that is so sick! So take the chance, start your story and see where it will lead you.

Happy writing!

Author Zoltan Istvan Speaks

I want to first thank Zoltan Istvan for taking the time to write this blog. It is an in-depth view of the personal writing journey through his novel The Transhumanist Wager.
Check out my Review of the novel here. https://wringingink1.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/review-of-the-transhumanist-wager/

By Zoltan Istvan

When I set out to write The Transhumanist Wager five years ago, I did not intend it to become an edgy, controversial book. For much of my adult life, I have been a journalist covering environmental, wildlife, and human rights stories. My articles and television episodes—many for the National Geographic Channel—were welcomed in any culture and in any country. My stories were the type that a family could amicably discuss over the dinner table, or watch on television while happily cuddling together on a couch.

Perhaps it was the effect of the war zones I covered as a journalist, but The Transhumanist Wager soon took on much more contentious ideas of human endeavor and culture. For a human being, most conflict zones highlight a simple fact: Once presented with horror and death, one tends to quickly discover degrees of emotion and experience never imagined or thought possible before. For me and the difficult moments that I still vividly remember, those incidents gave me the powerful conviction that human life should be preserved indefinitely, at any cost.

Jethro Knights, the main protagonist in my novel, also realizes this early in his life, after almost stepping on a landmine in a war zone (a similar incident happened to me in Vietnam’s DMZ while filming a story on bomb diggers). The revelation for Jethro is so sharp, so penetrating, so intense that nothing will ever be the same for him again.

It is from this vantage point that The Transhumanist Wager was written. And it is from the landmine experience that Jethro discovers the mortality crisis not only in himself, but in every human being alive. That crisis takes on the form of a wager—a choice that every human must make in the 21st Century: to die eventually; or to try to live indefinitely. And if we try to live indefinitely, then we should use every tool and resource of science and technology available to us, Jethro insists. And we should do it immediately.

This is the quintessential message of The Transhumanist Wager—as well as my own message to the world as an author and philosopher. A rational and scientific-minded society owes itself the strictest dedication to applying its resources and minds to overcoming that which has been the greatest downfall of our species: our mortality.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Transhumanist-Wager-ebook/dp/B00AQQSY60/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381192394&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Transhumanist+Wager

Follow him on Twitter! https://twitter.com/zoltan_istvan
For more information on the novel go to his site http://www.transhumanistwager.com

Review of “The Transhumanist Wager”

Review of The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan

“Istvan demonstrates great adeptness at crafting complex characters.” -San Francisco Book Review
“I enjoyed The Transhumanist Wager…an adventurous suspense-filled semi-sci-fi about sailing, love, and life extension.” -The Huffington Post

I would be hard pressed to try and categorize this novel in a specific genre. Even novel doesn’t seem like an adequately encompassing word for it. But if you’re interested in Sci-Fi or Philosophy or Thrillers or a combination of the three, this book if for you. Zoltan Istvan created a truly powerful, horrifying, tempting world in TTW and maintained an unadulterated vision of the transhumanist view throughout. A view that can be defined as elongating the human life using any means possible.

The story centers on a few notable characters and how they relate and revolve around a man named Jethro Knights. Jethro is an extremely intelligent philosopher libertine that wants to find his ultimate self. In order to do that he needs an infinite amount of “hours of life” at his disposal. The transhumanist movement is a small percentage of society that make up the scientists who work in the fields on prolonging life, whether through stem cell research, cryonics, biotechnology, cloning, et cetera. Ninety-seven percent of the world’s population is made up of extremist church-goers who are persecuting this minority. When the world comes out the other side of this epoch involving threats, friendships, bombs, religious fanatics, love, and torture, a fresh society is established and an introduction takes place for a new Earth.

Though I would like to go into more detail on the various plot points that make this novel a page turner, I’m not much into spoilers. If I were I would definitely be mentioning Zoe Bach. And I would definitely be admitting that I shed a few tears for such a perfectly crafted love of two intensely opposite human beings. But I’m not a spoiler so you must read the book if you want to experience it.
Back on point.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Transhumanist-Wager-ebook/dp/B00AQQSY60/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381192394&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Transhumanist+Wager
In an expert portrayal of extremes in the human psyche, Istvan capitalizes on warring traits in all of us. A protagonist and antagonist that epitomize two ends of one spectrum help the reader to differentiate between the varying principals of thought. I for one would find myself pondering exactly which side of the line between religion and immortality I am standing. So often I was firmly in Jethro’s corner with his transhumanist views and single driven focus to seek immortality. However, my personality many times shies away from such acute views of black and white as I’m sure many people’s do, which is in direct opposition to the main character’s aims. Perhaps I am without value, as Jethro states in the novel about those unwilling to find the strength to, above all, be useful to transhumanist ideals. Highly logical, Jethro is so convincing it’s scary. But as with the Earth we currently live in, society dictates a huge portion of our thought processes, many of which are entirely subconscious. Istvan does a very good job of showing how our minds work to find stability where there is none and seek the thing that shouts safety, even if it is all a lie.

TTW follows a non linear plotline with changing narrators which I found well done and an interesting read. Beyond the appealing cosmetics, Istvan’s writing weaves a very real world in the reader’s mind that is not so far off from where we are residing today. The prevalence of the latest technological advances has given rise to a new direction for Sci-Fi novelists and I think The Transhumanist Wager is merely one of the books out that combines the philosophy of human thought and the infinite frontier of potential discoveries.

For a view of Istvan’s own detailed description of his writing journey go to Valerie Rian’s Blog category “Don’t Take My Word For It” or click here https://wringingink1.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/author-zoltan-istvan-speaks/

Follow Istvan on Twitter! https://twitter.com/zoltan_istvan
Also, for more info check out his website http://www.transhumanistwager.com

Babies Don’t Eat Steak

I’m not a mother yet but almost everyone, mother or not, will tell you that babies do not eat steak. Sure, they might eat mashed up chunks of goodness knows what labeled as steak and kidney bean pie with squash on the side. But last I checked there was no 16 ouncer on their high chair tables. There is a reason for that.
Babies don’t have teeth.
Post complete. Those are my words of wisdom.
HA! Right.

So what the heck do I mean by all these baby and squash references? Simple. Babies can’t eat steak and new writers don’t write best sellers. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I hear you… But what about J.K. Rowling? E.L. James? STEPHANIE MEYER?

Well let me clarify a point. First book published does not a newb writer make. We don’t know how long it took that writer to make it to that first published darling. Example: I might work on a novel for ten years, learning and growing in the craft as I went. If that novel were published I’d have years of experience put into it and it could be an instant best seller because of that.
Could that happen to me? You ask.
Excuse me while I quell my laughter.
Okay let’s talk real time. It probably won’t happen to you. Might. But probably not. Sorry to break the news.
There is one exception to completely crushing your dreams. If that dream keeps you writing, ignore everything I just said. Because writing is everything.

When I first started seriously writing I thought publishing was the only way to prove my writing’s worth and my own worth. Although that isn’t that best way to view your craft, seeking publication is not in itself a bad goal. It is still my goal in a lot of ways. However, I was an infant writer. And I wanted steak. See the problem?
First of all, publishing should be seen as simply another step in the long process of making a difference in the world by writing. No matter what you write, there should always be more than the end goal of publication fueling your writer tank and leading you to a land of published writers flowing with chocolate and down pillows and Yorkie puppies.

My first forays into story telling were tainted by the journeys of successful writers. When I should have basked in the written word and the amount of imaginative growth happening in my writing world, I was frantically typing to catch up to others who had already sacrificed the time, blood, sweat, tears and probably their own Yorkie puppies. 

So what am I trying to express here? Babies don’t eat steak. We stand before we walk, walk before we run. Writers have to tackle their imagination, break it in, explore it, teach it, and then let it go to learn and create. Don’t rush the process for something that will come eventually with determination and learning. Bask in every step of your writing journey.

If you want a more in depth view of some of the steps writers go through check out http://www.nat-russo.com/2013/03/can-anyone-be-writer.html

Happy Writing!