Those Who Find….

Those Who Find…

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” ―Oscar Wilde

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!!

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!!

http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/07/31/harry-potter-birthday/

This really made me smile today. My Dad was the one that introduced me to Harry Potter (Initially the books were really marketed towards kids, especially at the bookstore I went to. I remember thinking he must be off his rocker if THIS is what he’s reading! He told me I had to find out for myself. I still have the first edition book I gifted him with that says “Thank you for returning me to the magic…”) and I fell in love with the books,. I know the first movie by heart to the point where I can recite it in its entirety no matter where I am in the house. In fact, I can recite most of them that way. It’s a little disturbing if you’re not used to it.

hp-slide-16

Doing Things MY WAY…..

Doing Things MY WAY…..


While doing research for the first four novels in my Locke & Keye’ series, I was informed that publishers would not be even remotely interested in so much as looking at my final product (we’re talking the first completed novel) unless I had a blog. Not just “a blog”, but one that I manage entirely on my own, update regularly (which means more than once a month), where I connect with my readers, and that they want to see that people are interested in the every day things I have to say, not just what I write for them in printed format.

There were some other “musts”. One of which included Facebook. I have an author’s page. You won’t see me say a whole lot on there, but you can certainly friend me if you want to., just be sure I know who you are because I am not the type to just accept every single friend request sent my way. It is not a popularity contest for me in ANY way.

Twitter was another “must”, and there were a few other things I rolled my eyes at.

It is somehow the belief that you gain readers via social media, and ONLY via social media. I call BULLSHIT on that, and I’ll tell you why.

#1- Unless you have absolutely no life, you don’t care what I say or don’t say on Facebook. Why would you? There’s nothing special going on there. Anything you want to learn about me you can learn via my work, via sending me an e-mail, or via responding to the things I post. I will always answer a person, so long as they’re being respectful. If you’re going to be a jackass, I respectfully decline to communicate with you. Period.

#2- I am a reader and a writer. I read what my favorite writers’ have to say on their own blogs and web-sites, but when I’m busy and haven’t had the time to read their blogs, I stick to their books as they are released. I don’t care what they say on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else. I don’t care about their political views (In truth I think it’s important for publiuc figures to keep their political and religious views to themselves. That’s just me though.), what they had for lunch, that they just found a pair of cute shoes, or whether or not they got to the gym today. That doesn’t sell me a damn thing, the stories they write are the selling point. However, it does let me know at times that some people have way too much time on their hands and really need to quit discussing their sex life via Facebook. Why does anyone feel the need to share every single detail of their lives like that? When did we all become the Kardashians?! (And I say this despite the fact that I follow Khloe’ on Facebook and adore her.)

#3- If you have time to “tweet” all damn day, I really don’t care. It doesn’t prove anything to me, other than the fact that a lot of people can knowingly embarrass themselves in 140 characters, or less. I refuse to join Twitter. Do not expect me to be tweeting EVER. It’s not going to happen, not even on a bet.

About seven months ago I met an amazing guy who has the same thought process I do regarding Twitter. His exact words were “One day I’ll get drunk, post something completely inappropriate or rude on Twitter, embarrass myself and my family, and do I REALLY want to explain that to my mother when she sees it, even at my age? No. So I will take a pass on that whole thing. I think it’s a great promotional tool, but it’s not for me.” Agreed. Did I mention he’s amazing? 

#4- I did start this blog because of a publishing mandate, but I have grown to LOVE my blog. Unless I am really sick, or obscenely engaged in something I’m doing, I post at least one thing a day on here. I try not to miss too many days in a row without posting something. I probably lost 10 “followers” in May because I was unable to post every single day as I normally do, which sucks, but not for me, because I see it as defining the true from the fake.

I have met some really wonderful, kind, caring, hilarious, genuine, generous people because of this blog, many of whom I now have friendships with off the blogosphere. You all know who you are. For a person who values friendship to the extent that I do, for me to call you a friend is a big deal. I don’t call every single person I talk to in this world a friend. I do not use the word lightly, not ever, so if you’re my friend, be loyal and don’t discuss me behind my back. If you want to know something, ask me directly. I am an extremely private person, but I’m also incredibly direct and blunt. I will give you honest, kind, caring advice. I treat everyone the way I want to be treated in kind. If I see someone is hurting, I try to be supportive. I don’t say things to be cruel to people. That’s abuse to me, and I would rather keep my mouth shut than come off like some kind of crazed, cruel bitch. I can save that side of myself for those deserving of it.

#5- Deciding to commit to this blog and keep it going has sparked something in me and given me a fantastic sharing and sounding board. It is something I love doing and look forward to continuing. I do not expect every single person that “follows me” to buy my books. It’s an unrealistic expectation, so do not feel obligated. Buy only what you want to. I am not going to push myself on you. Everyone has the right to use their entertainment dollar as they see fit. If it’s your deal and your genre, or you simply want to check it out, then you will. You’ll give me honest feedback, maybe even come to events and introduce yourself to me in person. I will never treat you like I don’t know who you are. In fact, I will be happy for the support. I will appreciate your effort in showing up and I will listen to what you have to say. I’m invested in this, so please feel free to communicate with me whenever and however you choose.

#6- My books are important to me, but so are the people that will eventually read them. I will always do my best to communicate with readers and respond to their comments, just as I do here.

A lot has happened to me in my life. A lot has happened to me since I started this blog, and those I have linked to it. I have grown, I have changed, I have become a better, stronger person. I like and respect the woman that I look at in the mirror, even if I occasionally cringe and say “Where the !@#$ did that line come from? It wasn’t there yesterday!” I am by no means perfect. I suffer from Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain every single day of my life, but being a writer has saved me more times than I can count. I do it because it’s what I want to do and I will always do things MY WAY. Any of you with a strong personality knows what I’m talking about and why. If I don’t do it myself, it will never be done right, and I feel like I’ve got a great handle on “doing it right” here.

Thank you to everyone I can call a friend, to those that have supported me here on WordPress from day one, to the small group that supports me in my creative endeavors, to those who send me e-mails and leave me comments, and to the new people that have started following me in the last few months. I appreciate it and hope that I will continue to keep you interested, intrigued, laughing, smiling, and nodding your heads. And of course, to those who have been in my life for so long, you know what you mean to me.

Respectfully,

Lisa

My Writing Roots

My Writing Roots

We all start somewhere, especially in terms of writing. My roots are steeped in tradition in the sense that I come from a family well versed with the written and spoken word. I, myself, have a way with words. There’s not a lot I won’t say. I’m direct, I have no time for bullshit, I speak the exact same way that I write, but I wasn’t always like that.

At an extremely young age, I was painfully shy and introverted. My extroverted self only “came out to play” when she was completely comfortable with those around her. There had to be a measure of trust, and even still, I held back a lot. Today, I am an introverted extrovert, but I’m also an extremely dominant personality. I can’t even begin to count the times the word “intimidating” has been used to describe me. The people that know me best know that I’m actually not like that, but it’s something I can turn on in an instant. We all have built-in mechanisms we use when dealing with others. If I have to amp up my intimidation factor, I go with it. Dumbing myself down and playing the pathetic card aren’t things I do very well, which is probably one of the reasons I’m single. What can I say? I didn’t major in drama, and I’m not an actress. To quote another Scorpio woman, “I’ve never faked it for a man, and I’m not going to fake it for anyone else.” Exactly.

I started writing as an alternative form of communication. I’d been given a school assignment at the time and I put it off for as long as humanly possible, until my mother was finally clued in that this assignment was way past due, and my Mom, God Rest & Bless Her Soul, was not the type to let her kids fail. She also never sugarcoated anything. If I had no talent in any area, she’d tell me not to quit my day job. If I had talent in an area, she was the first person to tell me to run with it. More parents should be that way.

I was convinced I did not have the ability to do said assignment, but my mother said “Honey, you’re over-thinking this. Just write what you think and write what you feel. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s their problem. You’ve still done the assignment and given it your best.” It was a very simple, honest statement, but it was as if she’d opened some kind of gateway for me, and in many respects, I know that she did. How many parents ever tell their children to say what they think and feel?! None that I know, but she opened a door that day, a door that has always remained wide open for me. I’ve been writing ever since.

I might have been kind of raw initially, but that grew into talent and ability very quickly. People commented on it, people took notice, and I started winning small awards. I was known for the fact that I was a writer, and I was also known for the fact that keeping my mouth shut when a voice needed to be heard wasn’t high on my list of priorities.

As I previously said, I was quiet, shy, and observant. Most writers are great observers of others, as well as observers of behavior and body language. I immediately realized that people responded to my opinionated take on all things, and I went with it. That eventually led to me operating my own “by-subscription-only” publication. It was not a magazine, but it wasn’t a flimsy joke either. A year into that project I was faced with a decision, realizing I could not run two publications simultaneously, and soon found myself the founder & President of a non-profit fan organization specializing in an individual’s athletic career (and at this point, I say “athlete” with a very thinly veiled cough. I’m not naming names. If I did, you’d throw rotting fruit at his house. I’m actually all for that, really. I’d be happy to give you his name and address. Ok, so I’m actually too classy to do that, but I’d still love to see someone hit him with an over-ripe tomato, or 400.).

I did everything from dealing with fans one-on-one, to handling personal appearances. Public & Fan Relations is no joke. I was also responsible for a fan based publication, which went out to roughly three thousand people all over the world at a time at its height (yeah, the post office loved me!). Sounds like no big deal, but it is, especially when you have to write more than half of it, do the layout and design, approve everything for print, and take it all by hand to the copier yourself. I had gotten to the point where I was turning people down because membership was out of control. If someone hadn’t said to me one day “You’re far too talented to be working for the likes of this asshole. You need to be doing your own thing, promoting yourself and your own work.”, I might still be in that job, which is still one of the most under-appreciated, but mind-blowingly amazing things I have ever created and done.

I did not have staff assisting me with any of that work. Not unless you count the fact that a handful of people submitted work, photos, and art for the publication, most of which had to be re-written, re-vamped, heavily edited, etc. And don’t get me started on all of the fan mail, because I answered all of it, every single bit of correspondence, myself. Not in a “form letter” kind of way, but in the most personal, professional way I knew how. I would never have been able to grow if it had not been for the fans, for word of mouth, for people being hooked on the work I produced. The work was mine. Every single second of hard work was mine, and mine alone, and in turn, people tried copying it. Many took my hard work and did exactly that without offering me so much as a “Would this be ok?”, and they quickly found out that the word “copyright” isn’t a lame or tame expression, it means “I own this, don’t F!@# with it.” True writers and artists do not appreciate or respect theft of their work. Plagiarizing someone else’s hard work because you yourself possess not an ounce of talent is cowardly, pathetic, and a host of other things I am lady enough not to say here.

After many, many years of this work, which resulted in carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, and ulcers, I then went through a series of personal & professional loss, and I had to take a step back. That step turned out to be a huge step away, a step I needed. It was a huge turning point.

Time doesn’t heal everything, but it can certainly help you see clearer than you’ve ever seen, to the point where you say “I’m done.” The only difference is, I meant it. I was done being unappreciated, I was done with the severe lack of respect, I was done catering to people who only wanted to get closer to what I had earned. It’s an extremely unattractive thing, riding someone else’s coat-tails. I went from being a sought after friend & advisor to having just a handful of people left in the world that I valued. More would continue to slip away, but after a while, you no longer think about it any more. It’s done, it’s the past, and I don’t spend a lot of time looking back.

At that particular point in time I chose a different career path and even started writing a book about my experiences in the new career. I had a lot of things I wanted to accomplish there, and only in the last year did I discover that someone else came up with a similar idea and is now turning a profit on it, which just goes to show you that there’s some truth to the saying “Everything under the sun has already been thought of.”, and yet, I am still fiercely protective of my work and ideas. I’m a writer, I have to be.

I shelved the book after getting my degree, not because I couldn’t finish it, but because my father was losing what would be a 15 year battle with cancer. I couldn’t write, constantly be at the hospital, constantly care for my mother, and maintain a decent level of sanity. The day I got a phone call from an Emergency Room physician telling me to get to the hospital immediately, I was prepared for the worst.

I stood there with my family, my father out like a light in cardiac care recovery, as a doctor quietly told me that the cancer they THOUGHT they had gotten through multiple operations, through several rounds of radiation, and the experimental treatment that landed him in the hospital for over a month that didn’t rid him of cancer, but brought all of his heart problems to light, had spread throughout his body. She was a fine physician, truly, but the next year and a half was hell on my father & my family. In the middle of all this, my Mom became sicker than she had originally been, so it was a constant back & forth. I was pretty sure I’d never write again, and at that point, I didn’t care.

I knew for quite some time that I was going to lose my father young. I always knew he would never see me get my degree (I graduated between semesters so that I could be close at hand, just in case.), that he’d never walk me down the aisle, that he’d never get to see his Grandchildren. I’d known this to the depth of my soul for a very long time, and yet the morning the phone call came, I was prepared and unprepared, all in the same breath. When I had gotten the final notice that it was time to move him to hospice, I fought like a vicious animal over it, I refused to do it, until he finally agreed that it was time, he’d had enough. By then he could no longer speak, the only person who understood him was me, and it was an extremely upsetting time for all of us.

Right about that time I picked up a newly released CD at my local Target and these incredible lyrics popped right out at me from the CD jacket. I read them to my Mom and said “Do you think I could write the eulogy? Would that be ok?” Traditionally at Jewish funerals, even the most relaxed, laid back ones, the only person who speaks is the Rabbi. I’ve always found it cold, a bit phoney, especially if the Rabbi doesn’t truly know the deceased, and I wanted to do something that I knew would honor my father when he eventually did pass away. It took me about two months to piece it together, and the night before the funeral I was up until way past my bedtime putting the finishing touches on it. It’s truly one of the finest things I have ever written, and I know I not only made my father proud that day, but I pretty much brought the house down. People who’ve known me my entire life came up to me afterwards and said “I had no idea you could write like that!”

I remember e-mailing my best friend a copy and she was so floored by what I’d written. Unable to be present herself for the funeral, we immediately made plans for her to be present for the unveiling the following year, not knowing that my mother would pass away five months later, making her even more intent on being present, because she knew & loved my mother.

I gave the eulogy at my mother’s funeral as well. A cousin I don’t really speak to came up to me afterwards and said “Ypu have a real gift, you should do something with it.” Yeah, because my incredibly expensive degree is just plain useless!! Backwards comments are so insulting.  For my parents’ unveiling, I gave an 11 page speech to my best friends (my brother’s & my own) and the few family members that deigned to show up who I share blood with, and not much else. My Aunt being the exception in the family, we’re very close and I love & respect her. I absolutely adore my Rabbi as well, and he has been an immense support from day one. He too encourages my progress as a writer.

It was right around that time that I started praying more than usual. I would often say “Mom, send me an idea I can work with. Send me something we’d both love to read.” My Mom was the person I shared books, music, movies, and TV with. We’d fight over books, we loved so many of the same things, and sometimes she’d read something and say “You could do this. You’ve got what it takes. Don’t box yourself in to a genre, you’re better than a lot of what’s out there.” Sometimes I wrote that off as my Mom being my Mom, and simply being proud of her daughter and believing in me, but eventually I did start believing that she was right. Most of the time, she was, so why couldn’t she be right about this as well?

One day, a tiny idea blossomed inside my head. I shook it off, but it became persistent and it was my mother’s voice basically saying “I like this. You can write it. Start typing, here’s an idea, see what you can do with it.”

I spent a lot of time after that writing, researching, and four months in I presented the first few chapters to my Aunt for her opinion, and because I desperately needed feedback I could trust, feedback not my own. She liked 90% of it and recommended some minor changes. A few months later I was back with the changes she had recommended and the additional chapters I’d been working on. She loved it, every bit of it, and said “You need to finish this. If I was flipping through this book in Barnes & Noble, I would buy it, and so would a lot of other people.”

Like my mother, my Aunt isn’t into the sugarcoating. If I lack the talent, I’m told I lack the talent, whereas when I’ve got it, I am encouraged to keep on pursuing it. She’s been that way with me my entire life, she’s never played games with my emotions or bullshitted me, so I respect her advice and value her opinion.

Book 1 has since received an official title, and despite being in re-writes, it will eventually be ready to be shopped around. When you begin a book and it’s not a stand-alone novel, it’s important to do the groundwork for future novels, and to think about the back story to your characters. I’ve got most of the series story-boarded out and I continue to write and do research on where the story will take you, what you will learn about each character, all while taking you on a believable adventure that you can get lost in. I, personally, prefer stories that, while fiction, are still pretty honest in the telling. There is a LOT of truth in the first book and in each of the books I have started writing chapters to. In many respects, these books are therapeutic in how they have helped me write out my anger and hostility about certain things, but also tell a story I believe in.

Writing hasn’t just given me my voice and a great deal of strength & confidence, but it’s also how I met my best friend, and many other friends that I am close to and would do anything for.

Marion found me through a mutual acquaintance when I was doing Public & Fan Relations. Four years into our friendship (this was before e-mail became so huge, believe it or not we actually wrote *gasp* letters to one another. And by “letter” I mean 6-20 page letters on a weekly basis. Marion blames me for the length, apparently I’ve got a lot to say. LOL.), she & her sister, who I am also friends with, flew here, though I was living in another state at the time, and spent a week visiting. We did everything from shop, goof off, laugh, enjoy great food, and I took them to the original Yankee Stadium where we took in their first official baseball game. It was a great week, despite the serious late July/early August heat/humidity, and we have been friends from day one. I have other friends that have also come in to my life through my writing and remained my friends through thick & thin, not caring what career change I may have made at any given time, but caring about who I am as a person, and knowing that at the end of the day, I say what I mean and I mean what I say, and that I am there for them no matter what, that my love and support will not waver. I can travel to a lot of places in this world and I have family in those countries, people who I’ve known for so long that they are closer to me than blood, and I think that’s a fabulous thing. Writing has gifted me with a lot, and I will always be grateful to my Mom for giving me the confidence to realize that this gift was in my arsenal.

So there you have it, my writing roots. Trust me when I say that as a writer, no matter what we may write about, we tell some of the best (true) stories.