Friday, December 6, 2013

Lost in the Story

Surprisingly enough, though I haven't been diligent on writing this blog, I have been writing. Mostly technical stuff for the website development that I do on the side, but I have started working on the second Bimini book again.
In that though, I've been faced with a few issues. I'm kinda torn on how I want the story to go now. My thoughts and feelings from the original story line have changed a little bit and suddenly, I'm reading what I've written from a different perspective.
I want to keep the overall romantic involvement the same, but add a few different dynamics to our leading character's relationship with her leading male.
It's true that we write what we know, but in my case, that might be a little false. While I definitely have the Paganism and Craft experience necessary to keep the content of the book fairly accurate on a loosely based fictitious scale, I don't really have the in depth knowledge about the romance aspect of it. For that, I draw from an imagination that has made my parents cringe as well as proud at different times since my birth and a sense of empathy that I've gained watching various friends struggle with their love lives before finally meeting and coming together with the perfect person. I've witnessed first hand, the electrical spark between two people the second they laid eyes on each other and the grieving, heartbroken tears when one or both of them ran from the emotional vortex that high chemistry creates.
It's terrifying, it's beautiful and there are times I alternate between being grateful and envious that I never had to experience that high or low. My romantic life has always been pretty cut and dry and I'm okay with that but it would make for a pretty boring book. Besides that, I have enough love stories to draw from within my close circle of friends, without adding anything about my own life, which I'm a stickler for keeping private.
Anyway, back to the story...
While reading over the initial start of the relationship between the second Bimini's main characters, I was struck by how easy the communication in the relationship flowed. Too easily. They're from different worlds. She's a successful well known actress; he's a paramedic living on a tiny, obscure island that most people have no idea even exists. He also has a past that paints him as a little bit of a bad boy, while she's got a rebellious nature of her own with an independent streak a mile wide. He's overprotective; she's determined not to be protected. Even in the face of their differences, dialogue between the two flowed effortlessly and maybe that should have been a red flag that there needed to be more friction there. More spark, more chemistry and maybe
even a little venom.
Changing the ease of their relationship means a rewrite is going to be necessary and though this is not the five year project that the first Bimini was; it's still taken longer than I intended and the idea of backtracking is kinda frightening.
So, I admit, I'm a little lost in the direction I want to take because rewriting the relationship could lead to rewriting the entire story; which might not be such a bad idea either. I'm decisively indecisive about this so I've just been painting and sculpting instead. When in doubt... avoid. But it's getting to the point where my avoidance is getting on my own nerves so I'm going to have clamp down and just get to it.... maybe.

We'll see.

Monday, July 29, 2013

When your inspiration dies... Literally

From time to time, someone will ask me who the inspiring characters of Bimini, The Romance were. A lot of people have assumed that Laurel, the main character in the first Bimini book was patterned after myself, something I explained in my introduction blog Caribbean Dreams as being untrue. I also said in that first blog that John was patterned after someone as well who's name I'd promised never to give up. While it's true that the major parts of John's physical features and some of his character traits as well were taken from one person, other aspects of John and those that mostly comprised Rick, Laurel's elderly friend, were inspiration taken from another close friend; probably one of the best friends I've ever had.
Charlie "Hollywood" Hackney and I met 15 years ago. He was 50 and I was 22. Sometimes, in life, you're lucky enough to meet someone and in those first few moments, you know that this person is going to have a gigantic impact on you. That was what meeting Charlie was like for me. I was a lowly kennel tech at the county animal shelter back then and he had just "retired" from law enforcement after receiving nearly fatal wounds during a drug raid, only to take a job as an animal control officer two months after making a full recovery. There were a lot of things that Charlie was tolerant of; but doing nothing wasn't one of them as I later learned. The very idea of being retired was deplorable to him.
If you know me personally, you know I had a rough adolescence. Not only was I a punk in the true sense of the word, but around the time I was 17 and already had my feet firmly on a clear path to a life of crime, my brother, who was also my best friend, died from a terminal illness. This loss left me broken, full of anger and with a total lack of regard for my own life that I still maintained full possession of on the day that Charlie walked through the back door of the shelter and into my world.
I was standing at the front desk on the phone with the mayor of our little town, whom I'd have several confrontations with in the past, yelling through the handset about bullshit city ordinances when I looked up and there he was.
To some of you, this may sound like the start of a love story and maybe in some ways it was, because Charlie and I did come to love each other very much, just not in that "hey, I want your body" manner that most people associate with that emotion.
He was about 6'1, his grey hair was cut in the military high and tight way and he had a thin strip of a beard that ran up both sides of his jaw. He was in great shape for his age, which seemed really old from my perspective back then, though as I continue to stare down the barrel of 40, I realize how young he was in reality. For his age, he was nice looking man in a rugged kind of way. They called him "Hollywood" because Charlie was the kind of man movies were made about. He had charisma.
This man, dressed in an animal control officer's uniform, leaned against the wall between the door to the kennels and the front office where I stood, with his arms and legs crossed, a sort of half-smile on his face, while he waited for me to slam down the phone.
When I finally finished my berating of our city leader, I took a deep breath, smiled at him and sighed, trying to shake off my bad mood. I walked forward, held out my hand and introduced myself. He knocked my hand away and hugged me.
"You looked like you needed a hug instead," he told me.
A little shocked and more than a little weirded out, I mumbled something and went back around the counter trying to put space between us, while he continued to watch me with that half-smile. We spent a few minutes in awkward, mostly one sided conversation before his training officer came up from the back and the two left on another assignment.
After a while, as I got to know Charlie, I learned that he had a unique way of dealing with people. He could be a total hard ass when it was called for, but for the most part, he had a gentleness about him that not only worked to endear him to many, but was accompanied with a special kind of intuition that allowed him to recognize the lost and broken; it was also in his nature to try and fix those people. He fixed me.
I resisted Charlie's charm for a while, but it seemed like every time I turned around, he was in my face. If I went outside to take a break, magically, there he'd be, asking me how my day was, if there was anything he could do to make me smile. He poked and he prodded until he could get the smiles he asked for, and I didn't smile a lot back in those days. Somewhere in the next few months that followed, Charlie Hackney became the one person I could confide in. The one person I could really talk to. He became my best friend.
He was a hard guy not to love. He spent the majority of his youth in the Vietnam war, where he was a sniper and after that, he went straight into law enforcement. He worked his way up from road patrol to later doing undercover work with the DEA. His face and neck were crisscrossed with deep lines where he'd gotten on the wrong side of a knife a time or two; a wicked looking scar ran from collar bone to jugular vein while another ran the length of his forehead from a night when the king pin of a local drug dealing operation resisted arrest. He had scars from bullet holes and also from four operations that resulted from four different types of cancers associated with agent orange exposure.  He'd beaten every odd he came up against. He'd been married to the love of his life since he was 18, had raised two boys, was a farmer as well as a business man in his spare time.
People looked at Charlie and I's relationship with suspicious eyes quite frequently because we were always around each other. Most of them believed that there was only one reason a man and a woman would be that closely knitted together. But they were wrong.
Charlie saw how shut-off and shut down I was. He saw that I lived every day on auto-pilot and where most everyone in my life at the time was content to let me drift away, Charlie dug in and forced me to hang on and open up. He made me talk until I was hoarse at times, knowing in the way he always seemed to, that there was this dam of anger and pain that I needed to let go of.  He always listened. He never judged.
When my anger got the better of me, as it sometimes did, and I ended up in a dangerous confrontation with a large group of angry Hispanics over a goat, Charlie charged in, literally threw me over his shoulder and physically carried me out of a situation that was way over my head, all the while giving me the longest, and probably the most hard nosed lecture of my life about controlling my temper. It was the most angry I'd ever seen him.
Over time, he told me stories of the lives he'd taken in Vietnam and how the guilt of that had stayed with him over the years and what he'd done to make peace with it. He told me about the fears he'd had when he was diagnosed with cancer and how each time he worried that he would have to leave his wife and his sons on their own if he lost those battles.
Charlie gave me his friendship unconditionally but the most important thing he gave me was courage.
For two years, we were inseparable. We worked together, we fished together, we refinished furniture together, we talked about everything. I listened to his stories and he listened to mine. There was a wealth of wisdom passed down in those days; from him to me. He taught me not only how to handle life, but how to be present in it and to appreciate it.
Once, I'd stepped on some broken glass that I'd thrown when I was pissed about something and had let it go so long that wounds on the bottom of my feet had gotten infected. When he could take no more of my hobbling around, he demanded that I sit on the counter in the treatment room of the shelter where he systematically stripped off my dirty work boot and sock. For about an hour, he picked out pieces of embedded glass, reminding me every time I hollered not to be a baby and that someday I'd learn that losing my temper didn't hurt anyone except for myself. He also reminded me that while I believed I had nothing to live for, I had a daughter that needed me. He pushed me to take better care of myself.
Not long after that, I found out I had inverted cyst on my spine. It had wrapped around my spinal column and was penetrating the nerve sac. It was a complicated surgery that I almost didn't survive. For a month, I was bed bound and kept pretty drugged up to restrict my movement while the incisions healed. Charlie came to see me. Sometimes, while in that drug induced haze, I would hear his voice and even though I couldn't wake up enough to talk to him, I knew he was there and that was enough.
When I decided that I was going to leave North Carolina and move to Georgia to pursue a career in Journalism, everyone thought I was crazy and no one thought I'd be able to do it. There were bets on how long it would take before I'd be back begging for my job.
"Go," he said, when I'd explained that I'd been offered a position at a small weekly newspaper. "You'll regret it for the rest of your life if you don't. You were meant to write, not to chase dogs and get mauled by cats."
Leaving Charlie was the hardest thing about leaving North Carolina. Every day for five years after I left, we talked. When I became so homesick and wanted to quit and move back, he'd remind me why I needed to keep going. He'd remind me that giving in and quitting was giving in to every person who said I'd fail. So I stayed and when I won the state award for Best Investigative Reporting, I thanked him for never letting me give up.
I'd come up for visits when my scheduled allowed and spend them chasing dogs on his beat with him. Eventually, he left animal control and went into his wife's family business in the funeral industry and still, whenever I could, I'd go visit him there too.
But, as it happens sometimes, even with the closest of friends, we fell out of touch. The last time I talked to Charlie was about five years ago when I told him I was starting on Bimini.
"If you can't get there, at least you can write about it," he laughed. He knew about my obsession with the small island.
I told him I was using him as the inspiration for one of the characters and as part of the inspiration behind the lead male character.
I apologized that I was going to have to make him old and ugly, but he just laughed at that too.
"I am old." he said.
"You'll never be old," I said, "But I can't have a supporting character as handsome as the love interest and while you'd make an excellent leading man, I can't write about you in that way. It'd be weird. So I'm going to make you really old and sorta craggy."
"Not only do I understand, but I agree." he responded. "Do me a favor and leave out the war stuff. No one needs a rehashing of history."
He'd been undergoing his fifth battle with cancer, which had spread into his lymph nodes, when that conversation took place. Because of his request, I focused Rick's character around Charlie's love of fishing and the sea.
When Bimini was finally released last year, I kept meaning to call him and tell him, but I never did.
Charlie died in April of this year but I just found out about his passing on Friday. He'd been on my mind the last few weeks almost constantly so I decided to look him up. His obituary was the top search result on Google. I'd lost his number when I'd switched phones a while back and life got in the way so that I never seemed to find the time to track him down. I could have called his work. I could have showed up at this house; but I didn't.  I knew Charlie well enough to know that he'd be pissed at me for giving into guilt so I'm trying hard not to.
I talked to a family member of his this morning when I could finally get the breath back that I'd lost when I saw that obit.
"He was proud of you. Proud of everything you'd done. Your friendship always meant a lot to him and he never forgot you."
I never forgot him either. Charlie believed in me in a way that no one ever has. I haven't felt such a profound sense of loss since my brother died. Though I'd lost touch with him, I liked knowing that he was out there doing his thing and just being Charlie. The world feels a little emptier with the knowledge that he's not in it, anymore; but there's also a sense of relief too.
Charlie, for all his toughness, had suffered a multitude of sickness these last ten years. He'd been sick more than he'd been well. He was a strong, capable man who didn't take being an invalid gracefully. He was a doer. Always into something, always on the go. I'm grateful that his struggle is over and unlike when my brother died, I can accept Charlie's passing with an understanding of death. I understand that not only is it necessary but sometimes, it is merciful as well.
No matter how bad it hurts to know he's gone, I'm forever grateful that the Universe saw fit to put us together during a time in my life when I needed someone to believe in me and I'll always be grateful for  the man that he was; for all the experiences he'd had that enabled him to shake me from my place of apathy and make me live again. For the never ending patience he had in befriending a militant, mad-at-the-world female bent on self-destruction and for the fact that his friendship never wavered once in all the years we knew each other. He was always my strongest supporter.
Our relationship was unique. Not one of lovers or family, but deeper than friendship. We understood each other in a rare and mysterious way.
Finishing this second Bimini book is going to be a little bitter sweet now, as Rick, the character most inspired by Charlie, still plays a role but I think it's the best way to honor a man who gave me so much and who believed in me unfailingly.
Rest well, my friend.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Bigger Picture

Before I'm a writer, an artist, a mother, a friend or anything else, my spirituality comes first. I found that when I'm practicing my path to the fullest, I become better at being what I need to be for others. That said, this blog isn't about art; it isn't about writing- it's about the bigger picture of all of that.

I've had a few dreams over the last few months that were wholly spiritual in nature. Dreams of beautiful people covered in stars that give messages of love and wisdom. The first message of these dreams was, "Fear is a house unworthy of living in".
That message came during a time when I felt I was suffocating in fear. Fear of the jagged edge of poverty I constantly teeter on; fear of my daughter's impending separation as she approaches the end of her childhood and moves on toward adulthood; fear of not being good enough at anything I do or good enough for anyone in my life.
We all go through these cycles but I've been luckier than most. I normally have about five second rebound rate from those kinds of fears until this last time. Whatever negative energy I'd moved into, surrounded and engulfed me until I just wanted to hide from the world. It lasted weeks this time, rather than the usual few minutes. And then, one night, I laid down and went to sleep and I had the most beautiful dream. Like any dream, it morphed from one scene of a house and some friends into me standing in the darkness looking at the other half of myself; that spiritual twin that few realize they have. From that, it moved to me laying on my back in the ocean at night, staring up at the stars as they began to rearrange themselves into patterns that resembled human shape. The shapes took on definition and character until seven or eight of these star-made beings were looking down at me in that dark ocean from high above. The only thing that was said; and it was said in a collective voice rather than the voice of just one of those star people was the message that fear was a house unworthy of living in. That message stayed with me all the following day, echoing in my head. The next evening, I dreamed that I was being chased through the darkness by something I couldn't see. When finally, I'd run enough, I turned into that darkness, toward that unseen pursuer and repeated the message from the dream of the previous night. I woke up as soon as I said it; those fears I'd been experiencing completely gone.
Last night/ this morning, I had another dream about those same star-people. I can't remember any specific conversation or messages, I just know that where ever I was in that dream was beautiful and there was a profound sense of love and peace that came from spending time with those beings. I didn't want to wake up, but when I did, I carried that sense of peace; of love back with me into the waking world.
I get asked a lot what exactly my spirituality is and some people confuse the fact that I'm pagan in my practice with my actual spiritual beliefs. For me, they're two separate things that come together once in a while to make a better whole.
I "practice" witchcraft; specifically, the ancient celtic versions of it. You know, herbalism, charms to help a plant grow where normally it wouldn't, spells for clarity or vision, spells for healing and love for those that ask for it; etc. I do rituals to honor the God and Goddess, rituals for healing the earth, rituals to honor my ancestors...
Though belief in these things are important, it's not the very fabric of what I'd consider my "religion". My religion is Love, Tolerance and Compassion. Love to all things that are conscious, living beings; Tolerance for those living beings I don't understand and Compassion for those that I don't understand, don't agree with and can't seem to get my mind around. The platform that these three things stand on is a desire to see a unified race of humans who aren't concerned with color, orientation, or social status but rather the giving and the receiving of love from their fellow man that is ours by Divine right. It blends a little with my pagan practice when it comes to the "Harm None" law but even that is more of a universal law rather than a specific commandment of belief.
I sincerely believe we all came here with a Divine purpose and a Divine assignment; especially now in this day and time when the energies of the earth are changing along with the people in it. We are waking from a very long, very ignorant sleep in which we lived a nightmare of separatism and materialism. Where we allowed our jobs and our material needs to keep us from our families and work ourselves into an early grave so that we couldn't enjoy the very things we worked those 12 hour days for. We're waking up and systematically jumping off that hamster wheel of slavery to a broken system and paying more attention to the things that matter; those we love and even more, extending that love to those we don't even know, which is what we were put here to do all along.
We are not separate unless that is reality the masses wish to live. We are one race. Before color, before sexual orientation, before social status, we are human. This is where our focus needs to be and where it belongs. Bit by slow bit, we're waking up. It's a slow progress, but progress is being made everyday.
I learned a long time ago that love doesn't have to be a two way street and that I can love someone with all of my heart without them loving me back. It wasn't that I needed their love... it was that they needed mine.
I don't worry or get upset when I express my love to people and they don't reciprocate. I understand that maybe I'm not here to be the one that is loved but rather, perhaps I'm here to do the loving. To love someone enough that their acceptance of that love isn't mandatory on a physically conscious level. After all, their higher self and their soul knows what I'm about, so I don't need to try and wade through the ego and the indoctrinated belief systems in order to make them see why I love them and why I'd continue to love them even though they don't love me back.
Sometimes, people interpret my expressions of love in the wrong way; sometimes, they don't try interpret them at all but rather run from the idea that love on a soul level is a viable, sane expression and sometimes, they "get it" and the connections that form as a result are beautiful and long lasting.
I've learned to accept that whatever the reaction, it's THEIR reaction. My job is to just keep loving, no matter what. So I do, because THIS is my religion and your hearts (collectively) are my place of worship and I recognize the Divinity in you as surely as I would hope I would recognize any Divinity should it materialize in front of me. I worship humanity unapologetically. I revere it in all its complexities, beauty and militance.
I open my home and my heart to it regularly. I keep the door of my friendship wide open so that any human who wants to walk through it finds warmth and welcome waiting there.
I would gladly give my life for my species because in the end again, this body, its perfection and imperfection is just a dying bag of protein that has an expiration date, while the spirit that lives inside of it doesn't and will keep the scars of sitting idly by and doing nothing on it, forever.

So, this is what I believe. Specifically and without shame.

I honor myself by honoring you and for me, that's the best religion.

anyone could have.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

We are "Indestructible"....

A few months ago, when I started this blog, I did it with the intention of keeping up with it. Time gets away from us and life takes hold and I've not written as much as I'd have liked to. I apologize for that. 

This blog post isn't about me, though. It's about Indestructible, a soon to be released Indie book about the world of self publishing. Indestructible is a series of complied essays by Indie publishers like myself who were lucky enough to be a part of the project headed by Indie publishing guru, Jessica Bell. Jessica had the idea to put Indestructible together to inspire, educate and motivate writers who may be holding out from taking the Indie plunge out of fear, or even writers like me, who might be a little lazy and need a fire lit under them. 

Indestructible has some formidable names attached to it. Up and coming YA author, Jadie Jones, whose debut novel, Moonlit knocked the socks of the YA genre; Jessica Bell, whose own works of creation are fun and interesting. I didn't know Jessica before the Indestructible project began but because of it, became a fan of not only her personal blog but her professional writing as well. 

Other authors like Leigh Talbert Moore, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Ciara Knight, just to name a few, were also a part of this project. Indestructible is sorta the who's who of Indie authors and I don't really include myself in that. Bimini the Romance does okay in sales. It's a good book. I not only wrote it, but I've read it; but like I said, I'm lazy and haven't marketed it nearly the way that I should have and in comparison to books like Moonlit and some of the other authors who were involved in Indestructible, I sorta feel like the swine among the pearls. Before I'd even worked on this project, I'd actually heard of and read a few of their novels and stories; some I've been following on Twitter for over a year. I can honestly say, I'm humbled to have my name show up along side theirs. 

I'd like to say to say that my ego loves the idea of this but that would be partially untrue. The real reason that I loved this project from the beginning was that one woman decided she would dispel the myths and the fears that other potential writers might have about the Indie avenue of publishing and encourage them to take the leap by sharing her own experiences with independent publishing, as well as the experiences of others like myself. 

Indie publishing has brought a lot of good writers to the forefront of the creative writing industry. In the old days, many writers, good writers at that, were turned down by publishing companies not because the story wasn't great but because it was possible that their sentence structure/grammar wasn't, or they didn't know how to properly sell themselves to a group of editors and publishers who had 500 other query letters and manuscripts to wade through and those editors and publishers couldn't afford the time, or didn't want to take the time to see the diamond in the rough, much less do the polishing necessary to make it shine. Indie publishing has made it possible for those authors to get their work not only read by the public but has given them an opportunity to really profit from it as well. Indie publishing has opened a lot of slammed doors for a lot of fantastic writers and for that, I'm grateful. Some of my favorite authors are independent writers.

So when I was asked if I wanted to participate, my answer was yes. Not just to have my name alongside those other authors, but because Indie publishing has given me back as much as I've put in it (for better or worse) and I wanted to take part in maybe inspiring another writer out there who might be intimidated and daunted by the idea of publishing their work, to simply go for it. 

I hope you'll read Indestructible when it releases on Sept. 16 and I hope that you'll find it useful. If not as a writer than as a reader and patron of Indie books so that you can fully understand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into our work in order for us to bring, you, our readers, a good quality story that entertains and enchants. 

To Jessica; Congratulations. It always makes me happy to see someone's hard work come to fruition. You worked your ass off on this and I'm proud to be a part of it. Thanks for putting up with my laziness with grace and kindness. I hope this is more successful than you could have ever dreamed. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Passion

I said at the beginning of my very first blog that eventually I'd get around to discussing the other things I do besides writing. The time has come.
I love writing and believe that I was born to do it because no one can have an imagination like mine and survive it without an outlet. Writing IS that outlet for me. When things get overwhelming or I just need a break from my reality; I write and in that writing, I can let my imagination go where ever it wants to. There are no boundaries, no rules and sometimes, no rhyme or reason. I write songs (though I never share these) poetry (I'll share that now and then) but mostly, I'll just write a story. Sometimes it's reflective of what I'm going through at the time and sometimes, it's purely a work of fiction or, as someone once told me, the lies my imagination yearns to tell but my guilty conscience won't allow it to.
As much as I love and take pleasure in writing; it's not my greatest passion. Nor is authoring a career path I'd like to be on. Yes, I enjoy seeing people buy Bimini the Romance and yes, I'm working on the sequel, but this isn't what I want to do with the rest of my life. Not even close.
First of all, if you know me- really know me, you know I'd never be satisfied just doing one thing. I'm not a fan of structure and I'm not a fan of rules or regulations. I march to my own beat. I always have and I'm happier that way. Nothing irritates me more when people assume they know the direction I'm going in. I don't even know where I'm going, I just know that I'm having a spectacular time on this journey and I don't see the point of plotting a destination when the detours my life takes have been so much fun. I wouldn't trade any of it for the world. Nothing annoys me more.... except when they try to set my course FOR me.
My life is deliberately disorganized and deliberately chaotic because that's not only how I choose it to be, but that's also how I want it to be. There's beauty in this chaos that isn't found on that straight and narrow, neatly packaged, black and white road that some pick for themselves. Those lifestyles are okay, and I even admire those who live them, but it's not what I want for myself.
If I stayed too focused on one thing, I'd miss the other things that come my way as well. Where's the fun in that?
So today, I write... but tomorrow, I might paint; and the day after that, I might go into a cleaning frenzy and the day after that, I might go fishing and somewhere in that, I'll sit down at my piano and play for an hour or two or just stand at my kitchen counter and talk to my friends in person and online or I might throw myself into my latest job. I never know and I like moving in the direction that my spirit takes me.
But if you want to know what my greatest love is? Where my true passion lies?
It's in my spiritual growth. It's in my love for humanity. My greatest passion is life and all that encompasses it.
A happy soul is a healthy soul and while yeah, I do have my days like everyone else, for the most part, my life is a great big ball of bright, shiny beautiful and that's largely due in part to the spiritual work that I do on myself and others every day.
I see the world differently than most. Where someone might see a threat or a potential danger, I see a chance to learn something; to experience something... a chance to grow. I don't worry about being hurt in my interactions with other people because I do trust enough in the Universe (God, if you want to call it that), to believe that every person I interact with has a purpose in my life and I in theirs. From the neighbor next door, to the woman at the grocery store who cut her eyes at my holy (not religious holy, but seriously swiss cheese holy) shirt and braids with a look of disgust while I smiled back at her. She doesn't know that A. I'm wearing my favorite shirt that I can't bear to throw away or B. My straight, blonde, scraggily white girl hair doesn't allow for a lot of fashion savvy styles. C. I'm lazy... you can't get easier than braids and likely, I put on the first shirt that my hand came in contact with in the drawer that morning.
Where some people might be ashamed or angry for being treated that way, I appreciate her view and that view doesn't affect mine in the slightest.
I don't judge her for being on the hamster wheel society has laid out for us because I recognize that this is the life her soul chose. It's okay that she doesn't approve of the one that I chose for myself.
That said, I take great interest in those reactions and interactions. I compare and contrast the differences in our lives and the likely differences in the circumstances that surround both and I wonder what it would take for a woman like that to be genuinely, down in the gut, happy.
Because for each of us, our bliss comes in so many different shapes and sizes. She may have all the money she needs to live a very comfortable life full of most anything she wants, but is she truly happy? Is she fulfilled? Does her soul yearn for something more and she's just stuck going through the motions?
I don't have the answers, but the answers aren't where it's at. It's the questions these interactions bring up to me that make me learn the most; not just about them, but about myself as well.  I take those questions, and I turn them back on myself. Am I truly happy? Am I fulfilled? Does my soul yearn for something more and I'm just stuck going through the motions? If I'm honest with myself (sometimes it's not always easy to be) then my answers usually lead me in the direction of doing something about it.
I don't want to go through my life only seeing MY life and what's directly in front of me. I want to see everything and that includes the options I have that might take me down a path I'd never considered before. And I also refuse to live my life in fear of being hurt by others. Hearts are made to be broken and they're made to heal and love again.
So what am I passionate about? I'm passionate about living and not just existing. I'm passionate about being a participant in the world around me and those that live in it and not chaining myself down by being the perfect model of anything. I'm no role model, that's for sure, and I'm about as imperfect as a person gets, but that's what this life is about. Discovering our imperfections and the imperfections of others and loving ourselves and them anyway.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Full Circle

I really didn't have a picture to go with this particular blog so I decided to share one that I often use as "go-to" for visual relaxation. I rarely get to see the beach except in my mind, so when I visit that place in my head, this is what I see. 
When I decided that I was done working a typical 8-5 job, I swore I'd never work another office job. I know better than to say "never" but I did it anyway.
Last week, I started a new job. It's only part time and I have the most flexible boss and schedule on the planet, but it's an office and I have tasks to do, no matter how fun they might be to me.
Yesterday, it occurred to me that I was reliving the early days of Bimini, The Romance. I'm working two jobs... again.
The first one is for myself with three partners who also happen to be a few of my best friends and it's doing really, really well. We're getting new clients and sales are up.
This second job is in a field that's near and dear to my heart, Environmental/ Geological and it's also with a person that I've had a long term friendship with. Someone that I respect and enjoy being around. The work doesn't feel so much like work at either job but still, over the last two weeks, it's been a challenge to find time to write in between. That's more so my own fault than the fault of the jobs I have. I've come full circle with my work-a-holic tendencies. One job has never, ever been enough for me; even when I was in high school.
I'm the type of person who has a tendency to immerse herself in whatever I'm doing at whatever given point in time. I get easily tunnel-visioned, and while, no, I'm not the most ambitious person, I have my own brand of dedication to the things I decide that I want to succeed in. I never do anything half-assed and that's both a blessing and a curse.
If I decide I'm going to clean something, I'll do my best to make it sparkle.
If I start a painting, everything else goes on hold until it's finished; the dishes and laundry will pile up, the dogs will beg me to feed them, the plants will nearly die of neglect until that final stroke of the brush.
If I give my commitment to a person, I'll do my very best to move mountains to see it through, even if it puts me in a difficult decision in the end. I can't always guarantee fast results, but I can guarantee that I won't give up until the mission is completed and that it'll be done right when all is said and done.
I was always what my dad called a "roller-coaster" kid. When I wanted to do something, it was done to stellar perfection. When I didn't want to do something, I just wouldn't do it. A lot of the time this depended on the day and the attitude I woke up with. In my older age, it's a matter of my integrity to do even those things I might not want to do, to the best of my ability, even if it takes me longer to get motivated in the process.
That's sorta where I'm at with the sequel to Bimini. I want to write, but I honestly don't want to find the time to sit down and do it. I'm doing it anyway and I'm not half-assing it, but I have to be honest when I say that the excitement of my business doing well and the excitement of a new job is sorta taking priority right now with me and while that's a little worrisome because I definitely don't want to be consumed with something else for another five years, I also see the difference in my drive and determination these days versus those childhood or teenage years.
Take this blog for instance. I made a commitment to Jadie Jones and an associate of ours
The sequel is almost finished. Once the last words are down, the editing will come into play and that's another drawn out process, but it's been less than a year since I started this project so it looks as though we'll be sliding into home four years earlier than the last time I played this game.
While my business is a commitment to the three other women that I share ownership of it with as well as the clients that we take on; and my commitment to my new job is another facet of the commitment to my friendship with the person who hired me, finishing this sequel is a commitment I've made to myself and I'm firm believer in never letting myself down either. How you treat yourself is often times how you'll treat others and vice versa. So while I ask for patience from the fans of the first book, I also ask for patience with myself because though I'm not working on it diligently every day as I should be, it's still getting done and done it shall be.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What it takes

One of my best friends and soul sisters, Jadie Jones, just recently had her first novel published by WiDo   Publishing. For me, it was probably almost as exciting as when I published Bimini, The Romance; maybe even a little more so.
You want your friends to succeed. At least, I do. The way I look at life and view the world is that when the people we're close to do well, they elevate us and inspire us to do well also. Our successes and joys should always be cause for celebration and when "my" people are happy, so am I.
I was privileged to be able to read the first draft of Moonlit. When Jadie and I had first met three years ago and I'd told her I'd been struggling to finish my first book, she'd confided that she'd been working on one as well for quite some time and that she, like I had with mine, would work on it sporadically and then put it down for months at a time.
When she started working on it again, I hoped that she would finish it and she did. When I read it, I was completely blown away by the sheer force of her talent and her ability to draw the reader into a story... and this was just the rough draft.
I'm not particularly a fan of YA fiction, or I wasn't, but she changed my mind by engaging it in her story. That said, much as I love her wordsmithing and her imagination; it's been her sheer determination that has honestly impressed me more than anything.
I didn't have it easy with the writing of Bimini, The Romance. I worked two jobs, I'm a mom, and had various other things going on in my life at that time; but Jadie, wasn't just a mom... she was a BRAND NEW MOM and she didn't just work two jobs, she worked THREE. She's also a wife and a pretty damn awesome friend. I don't know how she found the time to pound that book out with everything that she was doing outside of writing, but she did.
A few months ago, Jadie, our other soul sister Ashley and I went to Kitty Hawk, NC on a research trip for Moonlit's sequel so I was able to witness first hand the enormous dedication she has to her craft. Long after Ashley and I had gone to bed, she sat up two of the three nights of our trip working until the wee morning hours on the rough draft for book two. During the day, even while we were sight seeing, she was gathering information. Her mind never wandered and she never became distracted from what she was there to do. As I drove part of the way home, she sat beside me in the front seat and typed the final few words of the sequel. Her shout of joy almost caused me to sideswipe the line of traffic in the other lanes, but it was worth the near heart attack to know that she'd completed what she'd set out to do when we left Georgia for North Carolina just a few days before and it will always be one of my favorite memories. Had it been me, I know that I wouldn't have done it. I'm too easily distracted; too easily thrown off course by the thought of a good time.
While she is working on the edits for the sequel now, the first book, Moonlit, is for sale and Jadie will have her launch party at Barnes & Noble this coming Thursday. I'll be there; nothing short of death would make me miss it and even under that circumstance, I would still do my best to find away to watch her come in to her own. She's going to be a best seller. I may not be the best writer in the world, but I am a pretty great reader and I know a good story when I read one.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Finding your Inspiration

All artists, writers and musicians lay claim to one particular thing that acts as a muse or an inspiration for them in their creative process. I'm certainly no different, though I maybe just a tad bi-polar in my approach to creativity.

I write.
I paint.
I draw.
I play music.

Each one of these things is inspired by something different. Some might think that my inspiration for writing comes from the work of other authors. That's untrue. While yes, I have authors that I admire and whose drive and dedication make me feel like a major procrastinator; Jean Auel being my top number one and new author, Jadie Jones for both personal and professional reasons, I don't really get my so called "creative" inspiration from them. Music is my muse and what inspires me to write creatively, specifically, an independent European band that I discovered years ago. Suzy's Field.
I found Suzy's Field's music after they'd changed their name to the OK's and I quickly became a fan of both bands, though there were more resources out there for the OK's music than SF. I identified with a lot with lead singer/songwriter Alan O'Keeffe's lyrics, especially the song "Grace" which talked about writing for the sake of trying to purge or release feelings of pain or regret (maybe that wasn't his intent when he penned the lyrics, I never asked, but that's what I took from them when I heard it), which I can definitely relate to because my grief over the loss of my brother in 1993 was what actually started me on my path to writing and eventually lead me to live his dream of having a career in journalism later on down the road.
I credit my brother's death for helping to me to find many of my talents and abilities because I desperately needed a benevolent way to process the emotions and pain I felt over his loss. Music was the first, writing came second and much later on, painting joined that mix.
But of all the creative muses I might have, "Grace" reminds me of why I started writing and when I'm blocked as I sometimes can get for weeks at at a time, I'll listen to that song, which I downloaded years ago and made back-up copies of so that I could be sure to never lose it and the blocks disappear. Because of that song, I can tap back into the emotions and that place inside myself that remembers what it was like to need that mental release of words on paper.
I was thrilled with the recent news that Alan, Paul and the rest of the gang were getting back together after all this time to produce a new album and I hope it's so successful that they'll be compelled to continue producing them in future. There's a simplistic, yet very complex quality to their music that inspires me in a way that no other music does. I had hoped when they gave hint about an announcement that it would be an OK's reunion, but this is just as good and it gives me an opportunity to listen and explore the SF side of the band.
Independent artists, and this includes writers as well, don't get nearly the credit they deserve for the blood, sweat and tears that they put into their product. We don't have agents that promote us or advertise for us. Most of the time lack of funds ensure that the only marketing we get is word of mouth and social networking done by our own hand or the hands of our fans. While it's never easy pushing your own product, there's a sweetness to every download, every "Like" and every "Follow" you receive that might be missed should you have the luxury of being more hands-off.
I look at SF's return to the music scene a little like I look at my return to writing after the long break I'd taken once I'd published Bimini, The Romance. If they can get it together and organize studio time between six people when they're living separately in three different countries, surely I can devote a little time every day to getting my own words down on paper to make sure this sequel isn't another five year project.
In return for the inspiration this band and its music gives me, I offer my gratitude to them and my wish of success and longevity for this reunion of theirs.

If you'd like to follow them on facebook, you can find them at
Or to follow them on Twitter: @SuzysField

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Falling in love with your character...

I think it's necessary when writing a story that you genuinely like your characters... even the bad guys. If you don't like the product of your creation, in my opinion, you might want to review why you've even created them. That said, I've found it doubly necessary since romance is my chosen genre of writing, that you must not only like your lead male, you need to love him as well.
If you're writing romance, the point should be that your readers understand and become as emotionally involved with your leading male as much as the leading female has to in order for it to be considered the least bit romantic.
In the first Bimini, The Romance, it took me awhile (and a lot of tweaks to the character) to fall in love with John but by the time I finished, I was as over the moon for him as Laurel was. He epitomized the stead-fast, ever conservative male who loved deeply but wasn't sure how to show it and so his methods in expressing that love left a lot to desired. He was a little repressed in a cute way and even a little up tight so that when we finally get a chance to see him let his proverbial hair down, not only is it endearing but it's sexy too.
While writing the sequel, falling in love with this new leading male has been instantaneous. He's so opposite end of the spectrum from John with his passion and his humor that almost before I had his character fully outlined, I was in love. He's a man I think most women would be attracted to. He's a mixed bag.... part bad boy, part wounded dove, part instinctual protector and caretaker. Where John was just a little out of his element, this new guy IS the element.
In my first blog on this site, I talked about patterning my characters off of people that I've known or know. I think it's important to note that even though you're patterning your characters after someone, it doesn't mean that they ARE that person. Your patterns should be just that... a pattern. You take certain parts from those people and sometimes, parts from others as well and you mix them and shape them into what your readers should see as a man they could easily become entangled with. So, where I had a little trouble in the beginning of the first book seeing myself with John, I've had no trouble emotionally entangling myself with this new character from the get-go. He's more my kinda guy, I guess. Easy on the eyes, good to the core and has a love of life that matches my own with a little bit of a hot temper that puts the right spin on his passionate nature.
Someone once told me that it's not good for writers to become emotionally involved with their characters because it makes the process of ending the book difficult or Heaven forbid, killing them off should a later story line call for that. "Emotional investment," they said, "is for the reader."
I don't remember who it was, but I do remember disagreeing then and I still disagree to this day. If you can't fall hopelessly in love with your characters as you're creating them, then how can you expect your readers to?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Backwoods Southern Speak

You can't tell it from my writing; or maybe you can, I don't know, but I've got a heavy Southern accent. It's one of the reasons that I detest talking on the phone. I hate the way my voice sounds over a recording, video or any sort of play back- so when one of my close friends, Sin Jones, radio host, author, and critical thinker extraordinaire invited me as a guest on her program 'Poison Apple Radio', I was petrified.
I can usually wiggle out of voice conversations by telling people that I "think better with my fingers", which isn't a lie, I do; but it's also because my multi-state linguistics comes off to me as just sounding weird.
I hesitated to do the show even though I was grateful to Sin for the opportunity to plug my book. She's a phenomenal person but she's an incredible interviewer and host. She's garnered quite an audience with her show and I knew that everyone would be able to hear my backwoods, north Georgia speak. I was caught in this weird vortex of fear where on one hand, I really wanted the publicity for my book but on the other, I really didn't want to open my mouth, come off sounding like a hick and turn off any potential readers.
So what did I do? I did the show anyway. You don't know this about me, but I WILL NOT turn down a challenge and I began to see the idea of doing the show as just that. A challenge for myself. I'm big on doing self-work and I knew that this was a confidence issue I needed to work to try and overcome if I wanted to generate an audience for Bimini, The Romance. I literally white-knuckled my way through the show, with dogs barking in the background and my neighbor rocking out loudly to some serious bass while he cleaned his yard. In the end, it was a fun experience that I wouldn't trade and I thought I'd share it with you in this blog.
If you're interested in any of the other Poison Apple Radio shows, you can find them on or
Listen to the show about Bimini, The Romance here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Caribbean Dreams

I've been meaning to start this blog for ages and just haven't gotten around to it. Now that I finally have, at the urging of a new author who is also one of my best friends and soul sister, Jadie Jones and a mutual associate we now have, I'll take a minute to introduce myself.

My name is Lori Ann Robinson (just Lori for short). I'm a lot of things and I have a lot of hobbies, which I hope we'll find time to discuss eventually, but my biggest passion and the reason for this blog is the novel I wrote, Bimini, The Romance.

Bimini, The Romance came out in April of last year after many years of being a work in progress and through the writing of it, I made numerous self-discoveries about myself, some of which I also hope to share with you down the road.

All of my life, I've been obsessed with the Caribbean, specifically Bimini, which is a tiny little island off the Grand Bahamas and about 45 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  I've read about it, studied topographical maps of it, looked at pictures of it for hours on end as well as studied the native wildlife, flora and fauna and the migratory patterns of the fish and birds. I can recite to you its holidays, its history and the demographic of the people who live there though I've never set foot on it myself. I can't explain to you why Bimini has always been that "place" for me; it just always has.

The closest I've ever come to getting there was a cruise that my entire family had taken several years ago. We landed in Nassau and there were boats available for day trips to Bimini. I was out-voted and overruled when I announced that I wanted to go, so I didn't. I don't have very many regrets in my life, but that's perhaps my biggest one. I should have just hopped on that boat and went. But I didn't.

I believe wholly that there's a reason for everything and maybe the reason I didn't go against the family pledge to do everything together on that vacation was that I hadn't yet finished Bimini, The Romance at that time though the story had really begun to develop at that point. Had I actually went to the island and saw it for myself, maybe it would have lost the sparkle it had maintained throughout my life or maybe it would have changed my perspective so much to the point that I would have scrapped the entire project. So, while I regret not visiting it, I'm also glad that I didn't. For whatever it was worth, that mysterious, never seen by me island, gave me so much in the way of journeys through my imagination that real life might have never been able to compete with. I am forever grateful to that place and its people who have no knowledge that a southern girl living in Georgia, fell in love with their island way of life via the internet and wanted to pay homage to it.

There were a few different directions that I could have taken with the novel but I chose the avenue of paranormal romance. I wanted to bring together my first passion with my second; which is my spirituality. I am a pagan, more specifically an eclectic Wiccan. It seemed only right to combine the magic of the island with the magic of my everyday life and as far as combinations go, the two made for a very happy marriage, tied together with a big dose of romance between the two lead characters, John and Laurel.

Both characters (and pretty much the rest of the cast as well) were inspired by people that I've known or still known in real life. Laurel, our heroine, whom many think is a portrayal of myself was actually patterned off of a girl that I knew during my first year of high school. She was very petite, very pretty and there was something about her, just an air of confidence that I immediately liked and admired. During the early years of writing Bimini, The Romance, the main character's name started off as Maeve but as I got more in depth with her, and then stood back and examined her as a whole, I realized that through that brief association with that high school friend of mine, years and years later, I'd actually made her come to life in the pages of my manuscript. I renamed the character for the girl she'd been patterned after as a tribute to someone whom I'd long ago lost touch with after she moved at the end of our ninth grade year. I can't even remember her last name.
John's inspiration will always remain nameless because his real life counterpart asked that it be so. This character was born out of my respect and admiration of a close friend, who's dedication, morality and values were always something I appreciated. In my mind while I was creating the relationship between John and Laurel on paper, I could see the real life Laurel and the person John was created from, actually being a perfect match had they ever met in their real lives. The two seemed to fit perfectly together and the dialogue between them flowed effortlessly from my mind and onto the screen.

Even the cottage where Laurel lives in the book was taken from a real life home on the island.

When I published the novel, I honestly didn't expect the overwhelming support that I'd received and still do receive. I thought it was a good story when I wrote it and I was very much in love with the characters; but characters to a writer are almost like children. As a parent, you're biased (if you're not, you should be). By rote of creation, you're entitled to think your kids are great and that they're worthy of recognition. Writers feel the same way about the characters they create, but when the first stranger who read Bimini, The Romance emailed me and asked for a sequel because she "wasn't ready to let go of the characters yet", and then the second email came in as well as the third and so on, I realized that maybe I wasn't just being biased. Maybe I had written something that others wanted to read.

So, in answer to those questions; Yes. I am writing a sequel. I started working on it this past August and no, I'm not finished with it yet. I said in the beginning of this, I have a lot of hobbies and those do take up my time as well as being the mother of a seventeen-year-old girl who is very active in school. I write when I can and when I absolutely cannot deny myself the escape that writing provides, any longer.

Like the first Bimini, The Romance, these characters are also inspired by people I know and I'm so grateful for their presence in my life. The inspiration for the new lead couple in this yet to be named sequel are active in my life and their friendship is of high value. It's been fun taking these two personalities and throwing them together because of the oh, so different dynamic of who they are and the wide chasm of differences between them and the characters from the first book, who still play a large role in this sequel. Hopefully, it won't take so many years to complete this one.

I hope you enjoyed this first blog and continue to read them as I have an opportunity post. I look forward to getting to know all of you.