Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category

~ I’m afraid of losing my obscurity. Genuineness only thrives in the dark. Like celery. ~ Aldous Huxley

When I started writing fiction as an adult thirty-five years ago, I did so for the love of it. I wrote because creativity wanted to pour out of me that way. My “certain set of skills” happened to lie with prose and that’s where I ran wild with the giddy rush of youth. I was not preoccupied or clouded by the need for publication. I wrote to explore the parameters of my imagination, to see where I could go, to travel to far-flung places and report back. The possibilities and the horizon were equally endless.

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Five years ago, when I began my first steps into the world online and social media, I set up author pages, started making friends and finding out more about the online writing community. It wasn’t long before I felt the pressure to have something to show for my years of writing effort. I needed something to hang my shingle on. In 2015, I made the death-defying leap from unpublished to Indie author.

What I didn’t know then is that once you pass over that threshold, you leave innocence at the door. After that, the gloves are off; you have entered the arena of life. And life is brutal. It wants to eat you. Every move you make as an author or artist these days is public and hung out to dry in the open marketplace. Whether you make it or break it is global, everyone’s going to know. As the Indie author, you have become your own middle man; you manage everything from advertising copy, to every aspect of book production, to hawking copies at book fairs. The marketing machine never stops and you can never feed it enough.

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If you’re a savvy Indie, every step you make after that has an angle. Every friend you make is a prospective customer. Every post, every tweet, every conversation is another way to sell your product.

What this does to my creative soul is like toxic gas, it slowly poisons the ground.

Author and teacher, Lan Samantha Chang, addressed this phenomena in her speech, Writers, Protect Your Inner Life*. ‘We are taught to believe that the publication of a book is the happy ending to a long journey of working and striving, but according to many new authors with whom I have spoken, publishing is only the beginning of the journey of learning to navigate the world as a public writer, which is the opposite of making art, and it requires learning to protect that inner self from which the art emerged in the first place.’

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This is something I’ve really been thinking about a lot lately, is how to preserve and keep alight this flame of purity inside me.

How do I protect my dignity, my artistic integrity?

How do I maintain my ability to enter the shaded places of childhood, the secret inner recesses of my soul, in order to write the rough draft?

It pained me that in my reaching for public attention, I had forgotten the innocent joy of writing for the sake of writing, not for the buck. Not for the fan. Not for the “likes” on Facebook. Not for the bestseller list. Not for status updates. In my struggle to be heard, in my fight to get my book on the front shelf to be seen, I had lost sight of what was really important. Or why I started this journey in the first place, to ‘live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories,’ as Ray Bradbury put it so eloquently in his day.

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Like the celery that only grows in the dark, the artist, the creative soul requires time in stillness and solitude and retreat in order to gestate.

I have learned the only way to preserve and protect my inner life as a writer is to carve out regular prolonged time away from marketing and (if possible) social media. I call them ‘net breaks,’ and they’ve become as necessary to my creative spirit, as walks outdoors or glasses of water are necessary to my health.

Sometimes I need to turn off all my devices and get out into nature. I need to forget about the end point of the sale and refocus on the love of writing – that eternal spark. Only then, can I truly re-enter my own private Eden from which I can create worlds.

How do you protect your inner world?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Cherish yourself and wall off an interior room where you’re allowed to forget your published life as a writer. There’s a hushed, glowing sound, like the sound coming from the inside of a shell,’ said writer Lan Samantha Chang

*http://lithub.com/writers-protect-your-inner-life/

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When we start out as lowly newbie writers, knowing no one and nothing, we tap away at our stories in our towers of isolation and let the stories flow. We dream of being picked up by traditional publishing houses that will put on a full media blitz into trumpeting our shiny debut novel the length and breadth of the land. We go on to make scads of money, have our books in libraries and on bookshelves. We live forever. We conquer death.

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We get our book handed to Peter Jackson, the famous New Zealand movie producer. He reads it and decides to make a movie out of it with Weta Studios. We go to the theatre with our family. We see our world and our story played out on the big screen under the glittering lights.

We make enough money to buy our own island, to which we retreat purely to write and paint. We make enough money to pay for the kids’ education and then to buy houses for our grown-up children.

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Then we wake up one day and realize, that in reality, we’ve run out of money, we’re eating beans for dinner every night, the rent’s overdue, and there are bills to be paid. We move back home to live with our parents. We resign ourselves to using the public transport system and to being a bottom-feeder, again.

We console ourself, it’s okay. We’ll re-start the editing cycle. We’ll join a new critique group.

We drag the dream out of the dirt, dust it off and revive it again. We go back to work on the book in earnest.

We resolve we’ll work on this story, make it the best we can do, and it will be discovered by a traditional publishing house, and it’ll go on to become a bestseller.

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The dream’s still alive.

We finish the book and submit our precious baby. We get rejected. This gets repeated ad nauseum.

We wake up one day, thirty years later, and realize, the original dream isn’t going to happen the way we thought it would. One of our parents has passed over already, two lots of our friends have divorced, and our kids have turned into teenagers as if by magic, seemingly overnight. As the song lyrics go, ‘my children are getting older, I’m getting older, too.’

Only when we’ve exhausted all hope, and run down every street to find only dead-ends, do we consider the mountainous obstacle of self-publishing.

The bitter reality is that going Indie is a ton of work, and only a select few authors get to live the first tier of the dream: getting that golden deal, hitting the bestseller status, and signing a book-to-movie deal. Not everyone will be the next Hugh Howey.

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The rest of us get to evolve.

Isn’t that wonderful?

What’s the alternative? To give up? To abandon the dream that has warmed our nights and sustained our days through the long hours of typing? No, of course not. We are indomitable. We are writer.

We write. We learn. We observe. We write. We learn.

And now, whether we like it or not, we are going to be a publisher, as well. We’ll get to wear many hats: to don the apparel of book producer, promoter, like an old-fashioned hawker of your own goods. “Roll up! Roll up! Hot off the presses. Get your copy quick!” and to bash people over the head with a verbal press release about our book at every social (media) occasion.

It’s either go Indie, or go home.

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We can see by the veritable tsunami of self-published books flooding the market these days that we are doing these things ourselves. We adapt and survive and thrive. And, some Indie authors are climbing to the top of the literary mountain and attaining the first tier of the dream, under their own steam. So, it can be done!

The immutable truth however, as stated in The Drunkard’s walk, by Leonard Mlodinow, is that there is a certain random element in who gets to make the bestseller list. ‘There exists a vast gulf of randomness and uncertainty between the creation of a great novel and the presence of huge stacks of that novel at the front of thousands of retail outlets. That’s why successful people are almost universally members of a certain set – the set of people who don’t give up.’

In other words, while hitting the big time may be a game of numbers, there’s one way of getting there and that is to write and continue to write.

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Keep on creating…

Yvette K. Carol

@yvettecarol1

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Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell

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It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

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When the upper-ups at IWSG headquarters decided to bring in the Question of the Month, earlier this year, I admit to not exactly clapping my hands with glee. I opted out at first.

You see, I like to write every post from the point of view of sharing either what’s been going on for me, or what I’ve been thinking, or doing creatively, or experiencing through my kids and my family. As ‘the Question’ was only a suggestion, not a given, I decided to make my own choice as to this blog’s content.

I wanted to remain true to my ideals. Yet, as the year went on, I noticed other #IWSG bloggers I visited always answered the Question. I began to feel like the only kid on the playground, while all the other kids are jostling for elbow-room in the sandpit.

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Long story, short, last month I answered the Question. It was fun. I imagined myself one of the big gun authors being asked a question about my writing career by a newspaper reporter.

December 7, the IWSG Question of the month – In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

Great question!

I see myself with the series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, finished and published. I see spin-offs from the series, evolving naturally. I can see the books being made into some sort of local production, either theatre or movie, or maybe artwork springing from it, or the series being made into some sort of video game.

I see myself blissful at work on the next book/s.

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Have you heard of making a “vision board?” I saw the idea on an Oprah show back in the day. You create a pictorial poster of what you hope to achieve. I preferred writing down my dreams. I call mine a “wish list.” Each year, on my birthday (which was the day before yesterday) I update my wish list for future dreams and goals. For more than ten years now, at the bottom of each list, I’ve written the same line. “Peter Jackson turns my books into movies.” That’s a big dream, however if we’re talking about what I really want to achieve in five years, then!

My plan to get there is to keep on writing. Write. Write and learn. Learn and write.

I shall also keep on networking, which is a necessity these days, to be active on social media and create an active digital footprint. I’ll carry on blogging, tweeting, putting content on my YouTube channel, and pinning on Pinterest. I’ll keep on building my email list for my *Newsletter and putting out quality content.

(*For Newsletter, e me at yvettecarol@hotmail.com put “Subscribe” in subject line, you will automatically be added to the family!)

I think it’s important now that I have overcome my fear of public speaking to keep up the public speaking to improve my self-confidence levels.

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Then, we come to the most important thing I intend to keep on doing. Those who have known me on the ether for a while will have heard this story before, however, I always find its worth repeating. Back when I was into multi-level marketing, our very wealthy, mega-successful, charismatic leader took me aside one time, to pass on a gem of her wisdom. I remember we were standing in the car-park, after an evening meeting.

She said, she was going to pass on the single most important thing I had to do.

‘I don’t mean just in business, I mean in life. Forget about the money, building a business is not about that. You must think one way and one way only. There is only one thing you need to do. And that is, Spread the Love. Everything you do, everything you say, every action every day, you Spread the Love. That’s all you need to do.’

I really took the message to heart. I went away from that night and I have applied that principle to everything I’ve done since. It works for me.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘New Zealanders by nature of our isolation just go ahead and do things our own way. That’s the New Zealand spirit.’ ~ Peter Jackson

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‘Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think.’ ~ Brené Brown

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A year ago, I lived with a debilitating fear of public speaking. In other words, I was paralyzed by the fear ‘of what other people think.’

Yet, two weeks ago, I delivered my ninth speech, ‘The Phoenix,’ at Toastmasters. I achieved something I thought impossible, through the help of my local Toastmasters club. I thought, yes, I’m doing so great. I can memorize a whole ten minute speech. I can get up on stage without falling flat. Yes! I’ve made it. Uh, no. You haven’t. Why? Because there’s always more to learn.

Part of the Toastmasters leadership program is the “CRC” system, or “Commend, Recommend, Commend,” by way of oral and written evaluation. My evaluator’s “recommendation” after watching, ‘The Phoenix,’ was that I looked like I’d rehearsed to a mirror and had simply written and learnt a speech by rote. I needed to learn how to connect with the audience.

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I’d never thought about it that way before.

My sister sent me a bunch of links for incredible talks on the TED channel. I could see the difference and began to understand what the next level of speaking could look like. My evaluator was absolutely right.

I realized I had bumped up against another of my own self-made limitations.

At our club’s 20th anniversary celebration the other day, founding member, Bruce Powell, gave a speech about the formation of the club. He told us stories, like the one about the girl who, upon hearing the “recommendations” of her evaluator, burst into tears and ran out of the room, never to return. Or the one, about the aspiring politician who joined our club, he later became elected to parliament.

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It’s true. Even on a good day, the “recommendation” part of the process can be hard to stomach. I had worked so hard on my speech, and when I got my evaluation it felt as if he burst my balloon. Yet, sometimes, a bit of balloon-popping is just what we need. You can either run from it and stay the same, or you embrace it and grow.

It’s good to prune the ego sometimes, to go, ‘hey, I’m not always right.’ That’s a stable, balanced way to go through life.

It’s wise to cultivate within ourselves, the ability to say we’re wrong. Not to just to pay lip service to a nice idea, but to really then put in the work as well, to make change.

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At the moment, I’m taking a free writing class, Story Fundamentals, with Daniel Jose Older. The brief for our writing assignment was given during the video presentation, and then, we were to post our efforts in the online classroom. There, our beloved, sweated-over prose would hang out in the public forum, waiting for “likes” and/or “comments.”

The assignment was to write a short story. My least favourite form of fiction. My taste lends itself to the epic form, I like to sink my teeth into a meaty book or writing project. I’d also traditionally shied away from writing short story, believing I wouldn’t do it justice.

But, sometimes, I think when we have an instant, “no, I can’t do that” reaction, this can be a pointer, a sign-post to a hidden limitation we’ve held about ourselves.

My dear friend, writer and artist, Steve Attkisson, said, ‘Someone told me that the stuff you try to avoid makes for the most powerful literature.’

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I decided to go boldly forth and tackle this assignment, regardless of whether I wanted to or not. I sweated over my short story, ‘Birdma, she Taniwha’ for two days and posted it. I’ve returned and edited the story every day this week. Still no likes, no comments. Sigh! Yet, despite the lack of response, I still feel good. Victorious, even. Because this story represents yet another hurdle I’ve overcome. Another thing I said I couldn’t do.

These personal milestones are what we live for. Or they should be. Because, it’s in proving to ourselves first that we are worthy that we disengage from that old fear of ‘what other people think.’

It starts to become more important what we think of ourselves.

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Some of our self-made armour comes off with each limitation we overcome. Is it frightening? Yes. L. Frank Baum once said, ‘The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.’ Even a single display of bravery towards oneself carries rewards, and brings more courage. We grow incrementally. We start to build our first real foundations of self-confidence. Know thyself. Healer, heal thyself.

If you think of the opening statement, by Brené Brown, that our armour was keeping us from really living into our gifts, then we’d imagine that by releasing some, and putting ourselves out there, we start to achieve things. We can connect with an audience. We can write a short story.We can get elected to parliament. We gain the forward positive momentum we want in our lives.

Just think of all the unexplored adventures ahead! What do you want to achieve?

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See you in the funny papers!

YC

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Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.  ~ William S. Burroughs

The hero’s redemption (and ultimate victory) hinges on their transcending their self-concern. ~ PJ Reece

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“If I were to write a play I’d write it any damn way I pleased and it would come out all right.” ~ Charles Bukowski. ~ “It makes me nervous to read those articles on playwriting, ‘A play must have a premise’ and so forth. I am afraid that the problems of our playwrights … is they are TOLD the proper way to do a thing.”

My thoughts exactly, Charles! Yes, folks, once again we get to visit one of my pet peeves, upon which I’m going to bestow a grand name – #WhySoManyRules?

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Story is not born of convention or following the rules. Yes, we writers must be neat and tidy and write within the lines. To a point. Award-winning kiwi author, Kate de Goldi, put it this way. “I don’t care about the classifications of what constitutes children’s literature. I want to write articulate, textural, demanding fiction. I think current stories are lacking in complex structure, and nuance. Kids need more than a limited diction.”

Kate is my writing hero and I admire her attitude fiercely. She’s how brave I aim to be when I grow up.

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#WhySoManyRules?

You see, I feel stifled a lot of times by the laundry list of modern do’s and do-not’s for writing fiction. The “was police” won’t allow a single use of the word. Using gerunds is never allowed under any circumstances. Descriptive passages are an absolute “no-no.” Flashbacks should be avoided, the same goes for prologues and epilogues. The new one I hear is don’t include maps. And so on, and so forth.

Sometimes, I feel reduced to a kindergartner, unable to make a single coherent decision unassisted.

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I’m immersed in the happy process at present, of refining the original vision of my book, ‘The Sasori Empire’ i.e. making presentable fiction through the steady process of attrition: the edit-critique-rewrite-critque-edit cycle.

The polishing is necessary but what I question is, do we really have to take out every ‘was, were, had?’ Can’t I use ‘ing’ once, or twice, or maybe thrice?

Why are there so many should’s and should-nots these days?

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When I read classic bedtime stories to the kids, I realize how comforting the old style of writing was for the reader. The boys and I are currently reading Paddington. We all agree how much we’re enjoying the story.

Here’s a sample of the text (italics, mine):

‘The Browns were there to meet their daughter Judy, who was coming home from school for the holidays. It was a warm summer day and the station was crowded with people on their way to the seaside.’

This is a perfect example because a passage like this from Paddington would never get past an editor or critique reader today. You’d have to take all of the italicized words out. This is the sort of constrictive thinking I’m talking about for a writer in these times.

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It was Maya Angelou who said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This is the truth. Any creative person will know this deeply. The wellspring within must find its outlet.

What do we do when the walls and structures of modern fiction hem us in, watering down our work? Diluting our inspiration?

We compromise. I do take out a lot of was words and gerunds and description in the editing process. But I don’t take them all out. I pick what goes and what stays by how it feels to me, and how important it is to the telling of my story.

As my dear friend, James Preller said when I wondered whether to quit early on editing my first book, “It’s your name on the spine.”

We need to seek that particular middle ground which will serve the spirit of this project.

A delicate balance can be found, I believe, between the popular expectations, and respect for the muse and our own writer’s voice.

We respect that our name will be on the spine of a book which may outlive us.

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Chuck Wendig said, “Writing involves a series of stylistic choices. Sometimes these choices mean breaking rules. It’s okay to make these choices as an author. It’s okay to not like these choices as a reader. The end.”

When I started blogging, author and film-maker, PJ Reece responded to my first post. “The writing world needs more unedited truth. I can see it all now… fans showing up to hear ever more about the king with no clothes on. Is there not far too much conventional thinking in the wannabe writing world? Your site could be the antidote. I`m in! And all the best!

I don’t know about ‘unedited truth’ however, I can visit and re-visit the heck out of my pet peeves.

#WhySoManyRules?

Do we need so many rules for our fiction? Agree or disagree?

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Don’t tell me what I’m doing, I don’t want to know. ~ Federico Fellini

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‘In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. Now, I know when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth…Pursue relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.’ ~ Steve Jobs (last words)

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Here in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the 24th of December, Christmas and the end of the year are mere days away.

 

In the past, when we were an agricultural society, the 25th December determined the point when the sun started to move again, and thus, it bore the promise of planting and reaping the crops. This serves to remind us even today of the passing of time, the cycles of nature.

 

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With the coming of the Romans, and then the Christians each utilizing different calendars, New Year’s Day was a “moveable feast” back in those eras. After the Gregorian Year was introduced to modern thinking, however, 1 January was generally accepted in most places as New Year’s Day. And that’s the way it remains to the present.

 

From Christmas to New Year’s Day, this is traditionally a period of introspection, a time for reflection, and a time to refresh one’s spirits before moving forward again.

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At present, a dear old friend of mine is dying of liver cancer. She has decided to die at home rather than stay at hospice. This dire situation has given me a lot more to think about during this festive season.

 

On the way home from visiting her last week, I noticed there was a marked difference in attitude and body language between the kids and I. My boys sat in the back seat, singing. I, meanwhile, drove along tense and upset, completely fraught about the fact my pal was soon to be entering the dark forest and leaving us behind. And the difference between my kids’ chirpiness and my somber contemplation was “time.” My kids have the “blissful ignorance of youth.”

 

I, meanwhile, am a lot older than they are. My mother died this year. My father thinks he’s losing his memory. I know that time is running out. I wrote to my critique partner, Maria Cisneros-Toth, about this dark night of the soul I was walking through, and about my dying friend.

 

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With Maria’s kind permission, I will relay our email conversation:

Maria CT: ‘I am so sorry about your friend. When these things happen, whether I know the person or not, it’s a reminder to me to get done with the writing project I want to complete.

‘Life is so precious; there isn’t a moment to waste. It’s so cliché, but very true. And this is your first Christmas without you mum. That’s tough, too.’

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Yvette C: ‘Yes, it has been a big year, 2015. You’re so right! With Ma’s passing, I decided to draw a line in the sand. The finish line is here. I wanted dad to be alive to see me launch my first book, and, indeed, by pushing ahead to professional proof-reading and self-publication, I did achieve that goal this year.

 

‘Dad was there at the launch of ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and he gave a speech about how proud he was. It was a wonderful, emotion-filled moment for me. Ma didn’t get to be there in physical form but she was there, nevertheless.
 

‘Sometimes, you get a reminder that life is short. Your mother dies suddenly of stroke in the night. Your friend is dying of cancer. Your husband has a heart attack, right? That’s when you realize our dreams need to be put into action. Now. Today. There is no tomorrow!

 

‘Then it came to me, I understood what my friend, and mentor, Erin Lees was trying to tell us, when she said last year, that we should ‘live as if death were always at our shoulder.’ Aha!’ mum

 

With this perspective, I need to take clear, focused, heart-motivated action towards my goals in 2016. Remember, that Steve Jobs, one of the most successful men in the world said we should ‘pursue relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.’

 

While I remain heartbroken for my friend who is sick, I am realigned with my purpose and my willpower to strive towards my dreams.

 

What does the essence of this Yuletide and New Year distil for you? Any revelations to share?

 

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Talk to you later…

…in 2016!

Yvette K. Carol

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This was me on my way home from an audition for King Kong where I was told I was too “ugly” for the part. This was a pivotal moment for me. This one rogue opinion could derail my dreams of becoming an actress or force me to pull myself up by the boot straps and believe in myself. ~ Meryl Streep

 

 

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Sturge-Weber Syndrome is a rare brain disorder. It is characterized by a port-wine birthmark. It can cause seizures, paralysis, stroke, blood clots, glaucoma, and a host of other problems. The Sturge-Weber Foundation is a place where parents can go to find information. ~ Robyn Campbell.

 

Since meeting writer, Robyn Campbell, through our “tribe,” Writing for Children, over on Wanatribe, we’ve learned about her brave son, Christopher, who lives with Sturge-Weber Syndrome, a rare brain disorder. Though doctors predicted Christopher would not make it to the age of two, he is twenty nine today.

 

One fine day, in October of 2014, WfC member, Teresa Robeson came up with the idea that we put together an anthology, to benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation, and in that way, she started the conversation. Lynn Kelley, Catherine Johnson, myself and of course, Robyn, jumped aboard the project.

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Robyn loved the idea. She said, ‘The seizures in Sturge-Weber kids are really mini strokes. I really hope that the research finds better treatment options. The slogan has always been, the stronger the wind, the tougher the trees.  Maybe folks will donate and at the very least maybe when they see a Sturge-Weber child or adult, maybe just maybe they won’t stare. 🙂 That’s worth it all.’

Her words galvanized our effort. As we worked on our stories, over the months, more and more writers came on board, from other areas, until we had eleven contributors.

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In celebration of the fact that our anthology is soon to be released, I interviewed Robyn Campbell about her feelings and thoughts.

In your own words, what sort of book is KBAA?

 

First off, let me thank you Yvette, and all the contributors for over a year of solid work for the Kissed by an Angel Anthology. I feel so blessed to know all of you in such a personal way. This past year has been a struggle as doctors have tried to find the reason Christopher is having these latest problems. To me, Kissed by an Angel is a book of hope, magic, love, joy, and the belief that anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it. The stories are the best of the best. You writers are the best of the best. I will miss our family after the launch. That’s what it is, you know? We’re family.

 

Definitely! I’m grateful to have had something concrete to do, Robyn.

Tell us what this anthology means to you? How did you get involved?

 

The anthology means so many things on so many levels. This is our chance to do something for research. We know the gene that causes Sturge-Weber (GNAQ), so now we are chomping at the bit for better treatment options and dare I say it? A cure. I want to know that I had some say in this. That I made a difference toward finding a cure. It makes my heart cry to hear of these deaths from Sturge-Weber that we’ve heard about. It brings it too close to home. Way too close. I got involved after Lynn Kelley (who has worked on formatting and everything else, she needs a medal), Yvette Carol (that’s you), Teresa Robeson, and Catherine Johnson (our tribe) started tossing around the idea of doing an anthology to benefit the Foundation’s research. And may I say that Christopher just wants to give all of you a colossal smooch on the mouths. Well, except Erik. Haha Actually, Christopher loves Erik and his family. He KNOWS they pray for him. That means a lot to him. He prays for them and for Sam and for all of you.

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Thank you, Christopher!

Robyn, your story starts the whole book. What is your story about and why did you choose to include it?

 

My story is titled Kissed By An Angel. It is real life turned into a fictional story. But it is very true. It’s about Christopher before he got his black belt. When he was having many seizures. Every day he would have seizures. All day long. He’d end up in the hospital. It was a trying time. Especially, because he was trying to test for that belt.

The anthology stories are about special powers of middle-graders. I wrestled with writing a story on magic. But it didn’t feel right to me. I always believed Christopher had his own special powers. So I decided to write the story that is in the anthology. It was hard. I cried so much while writing that first draft. All those memories came flooding to the surface. I wrote his neurologist into the story too. I dedicated it to Dr. D’Cruz. And to someone else. Shhh. I can’t say anymore. All of those seizures are why Christopher will always live with us on the farm. He will never drive. But he can read and write. He can do much more than doctors ever thought he would. I give all the credit to God. Christopher had a very special request of the authors in the anthology. That they all sign his copy. Poor Yvette lives in New Zealand. But they all agreed. He is so excited to get his anthology.

KBAA, cover art, 2015

Tell us a little about the idea of the charity initiative behind KBAA, with all proceeds to go to the Sturge-Weber Foundation, as a lot of people are unfamiliar with either the syndrome or the organisation.

 

The Sturge-Weber Foundation is a place where parents can go to find information. Karen Ball started it after her daughter was born with Sturge-Weber. She works tirelessly for the families. The foundation has research irons in the fire. We hope for better treatment options. 100% of the proceeds from the anthology goes to the Foundation. I will set Karen up with CreateSpace as soon as we’re finished with everything. That way, all money goes into the Foundation’s account. I’m super excited. I want this to be huge. I want this to help bring answers. Please buy a copy. It will be in print and ebook. Thank you, Yvette. For everything.

Thank you, Robyn!

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The anthology is due for release Dec 13. In the meantime, to whet your appetites, here’s a cover reveal for the anthology. Ta da!

Our hope is that we have given people a simple way of helping an awesome charity. Spend a few dollars on a really great book you can read with your kids this Christmas. 100% of the money goes straight to the coffers of the The Sturge-Weber Foundation.

Easy as!

 

Yvette Carol

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‘Every story started with just an idea in someone’s head. Isn’t that a fantastic concept?’ Bob Mayer

Here’s what other contributors are saying:

Robyn Campbell – http://robyncampbell.com/

Sharon Mayhew – http://skmayhew.blogspot.com/

Theresa Milstein – http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com/

Erik Weibelg – http://ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

Vivian Kirkfield – http://viviankirkfield.com

Ellen Leventhal – http://ellenleventhal.com

 

 

 

The launch of my first book at the weekend was a tremendous success. The good vibes and happy feelings continue to ripple outward. This post is for all those who were unable to attend the event in person. Even my close-knit family and best friends were unaware of the ‘whole story’ of my journey so far as a writer. This address was my chance to step out of the shadows of my writer’s cave, and share what it’s taken for me to get this book ready for the world….

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“A dream”

A long time ago, I had a dream of being a writer and publishing a book.

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When you are living the creative life, you carry this little torch inside, of hope that your work will reach the public one day and make a difference. You’ll get to stand up and be counted.

I set a glass ceiling for myself, when I wrote my first novel at the age of 17 that I would get a book deal.

At the age of twenty, I took a writing course. I remember the tutor, Maria, said to me, “Put down your pen, and stop writing. You’re too young. Go out and live your life, then you can write about it.”

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I did my best. I raised my son. I studied fashion design and photography, I managed a bar in town and a drycleaners, among other things. Yet, in my spare time, I was always writing. Sorry, Maria, but I never gave up.

From the time I moved home in my late twenties to live with my parents and work on my fiction, to the time I spent writing on the side-line while raising my children, to writing as an escape from the gruelling anxiety over my boys’ health troubles – steadily working on the craft has ever formed the backdrop of my life. Writing and submitting stories and being rejected a hundred times. Year-after-year, I persevered.

Initially, I wrote chapter books for early readers. Then I moved on to writing and illustrating my own picture books. I have a number of beautifully-painted manuscripts stacked in boxes underneath my desk from those days.

That book deal, you see, was proving elusive.

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In 2005, I attended a children’s writing workshop with Kate de Goldi. Kate challenged me to decide what I was, an illustrator or a writer. She wanted me to choose a path.

I chose writing. I stopped illustrating then, not out of slavish abeyance but because I really felt in my bones she was right. And looking back, I realise I needed to do just that. It’s a powerful thing to pinpoint ones focus.

In that workshop of 2005, Kate asked us to write non-stop for a regular period each day. To my surprise, I found I was writing a novel for 9-13 year olds. I didn’t have to worry about continuity. Every time I picked up my pen, the story would carry on from where it left off. The story flowed, and the characters that came out in this fully-formed world were the same insects who had peopled my picture books, but they were slightly older.

I wrote every night after the kids were in bed, from then on, and for the next few years. I ended up with a vast epic, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, which I chopped into three. ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ is the first book in that trilogy.

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Then, I ventured into the world of social media. I started my online group, “Writing for Children,” and my American friends encouraged to set up a website, to start my own blog and to join with writing partners and online critique groups.

Because the development of this book was done through critique and endless rounds of edits with my American friends, the terms, the spelling, everything gradually evolved, and what started out as a fantasy adventure firmly rooted in an alternate NZ became a story more and more suited for the American market, making this story a rare hybrid.

When I finished work the first time on this book, I sent it to acclaimed kiwi author, Fleur Beale, for her assessment. She said, ‘Excellent story, but lose the insects!’

I couldn’t lose the insects because it was the fact that The Chronicles of Aden Weaver was set in this microscopic world that made it so unique and interesting. However I came up with a new concept – of making the characters shape-shifters – able to move between human and insect form.

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Eighteen months later, after a major overhaul of the script, I met Frances Plumpton, NZ representative of The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators. I gave the Tane Mahuta novel to her to assess. I’ll never forget what she said. “Every writer has that book in their bottom drawer that should never see the light of day. This is that book.”

My next writing partner was an author and musician. He said, my story “went clunk” and “sounded like the equivalent of riding over cobblestones on a horse.” His advice was scrap the whole thing and start again. And so it went on. The knocks in this business are legendary.

In fact, there’s a wonderful site, called literary rejections dot com where I discovered I was not alone. To name a few, Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women, was told Stick to teaching.” Richard Bach, author of Jonathon Livingston Seagull was told, Nobody will want to read a book about a seagull.” L. Frank Baum was told, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, was Too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.”

Thankfully those authors didn’t listen to the naysayers! And neither did I….

Though a couple of years ago, I went through yet another crushing defeat that did stop me in my tracks for a minute. I had submitted this book to an international contest for the prize of publication. I didn’t hear back from them. Then, on their website, the organizers said, those who don’t hear back are the finalists. Whoopee! This was cause for great jubilation! Until upon further enquiry, I discovered that not only had I not made it to the finals, but the organisers had not received the manuscript at all, due to my fatal error in calculating the time difference between countries.

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In my mind, I had thought I was this close to breaking through that glass ceiling. Instead I was back at square one. AGAIN. Devastated, I fell into a black hole that lasted for seven days.

At the end of that week, I got a phone-call. I heard my mother’s voice. She said, “The darkest hour always comes before the dawn. You may think all is lost right now, but it isn’t. This is just the start of great things opening up for you. You’ll see!”

Ma, I always hoped you’d be here for this, and yet I know you’re here in spirit.

Even though my mother was failing in her later years, she always knew when to ride in on the silver horse!

I have to thank my parents for so much. I know that my journey to publication has been a long and winding road. And yet mum and dad still believed.

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When, as a writer you feel everything is taking too long, and the frustration mounts, there’s this expectation of you and yet you’re not delivering, you could literally wallpaper your house with the rejection letters – you actually do need more than financial assistance to keep going sometimes, you need love. My parents gave me both.

Thank you to my father for driving up from Rotorua just to be here today. Thank you to those who have postponed personal milestones to help me celebrate mine. To you I say I am humbly grateful. Thank you to my friends for your patience, for putting up with me when I miss all the get-togethers, or on the rare occasion I do show up, that I’m always the first to leave. Thank you, Simon, for bringing Aden Weaver to life. I really appreciate you all being here to help me mark this moment, this crossing of the threshold. I am sure a great many of you – don’t worry I don’t need a show of hands – had begun to wonder if I’d ever publish anything. You might have been forgiven for wondering if this day would ever come.

The only reason this day is here now is because I stopped waiting to be picked up by a traditional publisher. Along the way, I had realized my glass ceiling was holding me down. So I let it go. I let the dream of a book deal go, but I didn’t let go of the book, nor the insects, nor the vision of how I wanted it to be. The dream is still alive in a new form, and it’s even better, I have total creative control.

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One of my writing tutors, Bob Mayer, once said, “Failure is the start point for future success.”

Hugh Howey had ten novels in print before he published “Wool” which became a big hit. The estate of Jack London, the House Of Happy Walls displays some of the 600 rejections he received before selling a single story.

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In other words, the only thing that separates the published from the unpublished author is deep determination and a touch of insanity. Lucky for me, I’m endowed with both.

It was Sir Winston Churchill who once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

By those standards, I’ve been WINNING for the last 33 years!
A long time ago, I had a dream…of being a writer and publishing a book. Today that dream has become a reality! Thank you for being here with me to witness this moment.

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. Tell the truth about yourself no matter what the cost. Own your reality without apology. Be bold , be fierce, be grateful. Be gloriously free. Be You. Go now,and live” Jeanette LeBlanc.