Are you a Part-Time Writer Looking for Inspiration for 2014? You’ve Come to the ‘Write’ Place!

I’m starting of the year with a guest post from Nikolas Baron, from Grammarly.com. Have you heard of them? It’s a great site for writer’s who need help proofreading their work. From blog posts to essays, they’ve got the tools you need! But first, get inspired to start 2014 off the ‘write’ way!

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The Part-Time Writer

part_time_writerBeing a writer is, for many, a lifelong dream. Writing for payment is a thrilling accomplishment, but it’s usually soon followed by the realization that most writers do not make a living from writing alone. In fact, many writers pursue a separate, unrelated career while writing part-time, whether as a hobby or as a secondary source of income. For the part-time writer facing deadlines, a quality online spelling, grammar, and plagiarism checker can be a valuable tool. Saving time is just one aspect of creating success as a writer, however. Writing takes dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn the craft.

Being a writer is an admirable goal, but it’s not a realistic one. How does one become “a writer”? There is no pill, no bottled potion to be ingested, that will magically bring about the transformation. Becoming a writer begins with picking up a pen; but, having taken that first crucial step, the aspiring writer will discover that the journey has just begun. First, the writer must decide what type of writing he or she wants to do. Fiction or nonfiction? Short stories?

Articles? Novels? Each type of writing requires a unique skill set, and there is a distinct path to follow to the individual definition of success for every writer. It’s important to study the craft and read within and outside the genre to become a well-rounded reader and a better writer. Wanting to be a writer isn’t enough. It’s important to decide upon a genre and a style that best suits the writer’s individual dream. Becoming a writer is a dream. Transforming an abstract desire into a concrete success takes deeper thought.

Once the budding writer has decided upon writing mystery novels, for example, the next step is to set some goals. Novices may want to keep the goals reasonable, setting themselves to the task of writing for a set amount of time per day or obtaining a certain word count, depending on the time that can be found in between other obligations. Some professionals suggest that writing every day is critical to success, while others claim that a certain amount of time must be invested. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Time and discipline are important, but the definition of success is an individual one that only the writers themselves can create. Goals create personal milestones, giving the writer a measuring stick against which to check progress. Setting the goals is entirely up to the writers themselves.

Time can be a precious commodity in our fast-paced world. Between work, family obligations, hobbies, volunteer work, and other commitments, the idea of finding time to write might seem out of reach. However, it can be done. It may be necessary to write out a simple schedule, noting work, family obligations, and other time constraints, and then consider the blocks of time that are not already committed to other pursuits. Television viewing might have to be sacrificed. Getting up a little earlier in the morning, for a morning person, or staying up a little later in the evening, for a night owl, might be an option as well. Moreover, a shorter lunch break might provide some time to indulge the muse.

Time, however, is not always the only consideration. Many writers need to “warm up” to the page, to shift gears from their day jobs into the mental work of writing. It is necessary not only to find time to scribble a few words on a page but also to find long enough blocks of uninterrupted time suitable for writing. Indeed, protecting the quality of one’s writing time is as important as finding time to write in the first place. If writing is not a priority and if the commitment is not as firm as the Saturday-morning golf game or the monthly martini lunch with the girls, it will never get off the ground.Marjorie Facklam, author of numerous children’s books, began writing while raising her five children, with several still in diapers. If a harried mother of five can find time to research and write rhyming science picture books like Bugs for Lunch while chasing toddlers and maintaining a household, any writer can find time in their schedule. Often, the question isn’t one of time, but of commitment.

Connect with  Nikolas Baron on Google+      Plagiarism Checker

nick-Grammerly Guest posterAbout the Author:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 1

Before reading any further, take the next three minutes to watch this video. Get your laugh on, then watch it again and get your learn on. Not only will you be entertained, you’re going to learn something new because afterwards, I’m going to break it down!

DATE NIGHT! -THE VIDEO

(Video via Facebook share)

Hilarious, right? It’s the typical men see things differently than women story of a date through the eyes of two very different couples. The difference? The back story. Knowing what each character is going through before, during, and after a scene helps you, the author, know what experiences should be included in a scene and how to present them.

Remember those pesky and time consuming character outlines I’m always referring to? Well, here is how they work for the characters in this short video.

THE BREAK DOWN:

COUPLE A:

HER POV: The Date SUCKED!

Woman A was looking forward to a romantic interlude. She did her hair and make-up, took the time to prepare a meal, and set the table. She expected her date to arrive looking nice, probably bearing a vase of flowers, and taking the time to appreciate her appearance and the meal. Next would have come some small talk, flirting, and no doubt, some personal fun time.

What did she get?

A quick hug, no compliments on her appearance or the meal. Instead he made a beeline for the food, woofed it down without any conversation besides grunts that seemed to ruin her appetite. And when it came to fun time…well, let’s just say Mr. Happy was there and back again in less than 3 seconds, or as she said, before she could unhook the back her dress. And to top it all off, he finds his way to her bed and passes out from what has to be over eating and rapid blood loss to the brain.

His POV: IT was AMAZING!

Man A wanted exactly what he got: A good looking woman who cooked for him (free food), had nothing to say, and stood there long enough for him to get his rocks off. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the comfy bed. In his eyes, major score!! And he got to leave with his needs satisfied in time to watch the big game at home without interruption.

 

COUPLE B:

HER POV: Most ROMANTIC DATE EVER!

Everything about the evening was different than being with any other man. First, he paid for a cab. Dinner was an amazing experience. After, instead of hailing a cab, they took the scenic route, walking along, holding hands, and experiencing the night life from another point of view. At his place, the romance continued with lit candles to set the mood, a very intense love making session that lasted longer than anything she’d ever experienced. And the best part, he didn’t pass out when they were done. They lay there wrapped in each other’s arms and talked all night.

In a nutshell, everything was magical and perfect, just what a girl could ever want.

 His POV: EPIC FAIL!!!!

It’s been a long day full of one frustrating event after another. Failure to pay his light bill lead to to spend money taking her out instead of having her come over. After paying for a cab, dinner was so expensive he could no longer afford a taxi cab home. He plays off the whole broke thing by suggesting they ‘sight see’ and walk to his place, (is this chick gullible or what???). No electricity leaves him improvising again with candles. Frustrated by the series of mind numbing fails, he has too much pride to say let’s call it an evening and tires to play it off by ‘making love’ when what he’s really doing is stalling for time to work himself up for that magic moment. By the end of it all, he doesn’t feel like finishing the act, but he’s literally ‘in the game’ and has to figure out how to play it off, because hey, Ms. Gullible is having the time of her life. Again, frustrated, pissed off, and ready for it all to be over, he can’t sleep which means he has no choice but to be subjected to Ms. Chatty Cathy.

This date sucked so much he probably would refuse to see her ever again.

Pad of Paper & Pen

 

 

 

Now, how does all of this tie into writing?

First, let’s review the definitions of Point of View and Perspective:

 

 

 

 

 

POINT OF VIEW: The position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator’s outlook from which the events are depicted and by the attitude toward the characters

PERSPECTIVE: the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship

(Definitions via dictionary.com)

DETERMINING USE OF POINT OF VIEW:

When telling a story, you must know which character’s voice you want the readers to experience. If the entire story is being written from one character’s POV, then it’s simple. Everything that happens comes from them. If your story is being told from more than one character’s POV, then you must decide how much of is being told and from who’s POV. This can be done in several ways:

  • An entire scene or chapter is told in one character’s POV
  • A scene or chapter is told in split POV’s
  • A section, or portion (meaning more than a few chapters in a row or Part 1, Part 2, etc. of the manuscript) are told from various characters’ POV

Knowing the story your telling (story line) and what your characters experience and how those experiences will affect their decision making (back story) determines who’s POV is shared at certain points. The character’s reactions to their environment and scenarios they face will be based on that back story.

Of the four characters portrayed in the video, the best example would be Man B from the second couple. An unfortunate event (failure to pay his light bill) led to changing his date night plans (paying for cab, expensive dinner, walking home, candle light sex, aggravation to the point of failure to perform for an extended point of time, and sleeplessness). Lack of electricity set off a catalyst of events that when told from his point of view, led to the date from hell. His POV was much more entertaining than Woman B who saw things from a fairytale perspective.

Now, how does perspective come into play?

Come back tomorrow where I’ll break down that portion of the video, as well as share a scene from my bestselling novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, where I demonstrate the use of perspective from three characters POV in one scene. Until then, Happy Writing!!!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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SORMAG Online Conference 2013- Readers and Writers, will you be there?

On the panel add

Have you heard about the SORMAG Online Conference ?

If not, you have to check it out!

SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine) is hosting its annual conference which gives authors the opportunity to learn from one another. Readers, here’s a chance to talk to some of your favorite authors! The event last November 1-3rd!!!

Workshops will be held online as well as by phone.  Each day will have a theme:

November 1st: New Writers

November 2nd: Readers

November 3rd: Published Authors

I’m excited to say that I am not only attending, I’m also on several panels! You will find me on the Social Media and Readers panel on November 2nd, and the Marketing panel on November 3rd. Both are live phone panels, so stop by and say hi!

Follow this link to learn more about the conference topics and what authors will be participating!

Register

Have you ever attended a conference without leaving your home?
Register for SORMAG’s Online Conference for readers and writers. Learn from published authors, network with fellow writers. Pitch your manuscript. Mix and mingle with avid readers. Win a few door prizes and never leave the comforts of your home.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#WritingTips- Use Your Microsoft Word Doc Tools to Make Writing Easier!

When my Muse wakes me up in the middle of the night, or I have an epiphany of a new scene to add more life to my manuscript, the first thing I do is search for any means of recording my thoughts. Paper and pen, notes on my iPhone, voice recordings if I’m driving, or sometimes I just grab my laptop, open up a blank word doc, and let my fingers fly over the keys. Then I file it away until I’m ready to work on it again.

I am a plotter with a hint of panster. I take my time when I write, letting my stories marinate as I decide what trials to put my characters through. I spend even more time discovering who they are. When my research is complete, my outlines written, and I’m ready to add dialogue, the last thing I want to do after spending hours bringing my story to life, is have to go back and reformat the entire manuscript before editing it.

Let’s face it, authors, the mere thought of the words edits, editing, or editor are daunting, especially if you are new to writing!

I remember those days! But, have no fear! Since then, I have learned when you put in the work, the editing process can run so smooth, it’s nearly as fun as watching your story come to life from the blank page!

Okay, okay, stop laughing!  Let’s keep it positive people! 🙂 I’m about to share a tip that will have you grinning from ear to ear! (If you had no idea about it, that is!)

Did you know there are tools built into Microsoft Word that can cut down the amount of editing you or your editor need to do if used while you write?

I learned this while working on my first manuscript, (A Heart Not Easily Broken), and my dear friend and fellow author enlightened me to these amazing settings. I can’t lie; I am NOT a tech savvy person. What I’ve learned to do with my laptop, be it building my webpage, (the one you’re visiting now), or surfing the web, all of this has been because of being pointed in the right direction by people who discovered these shortcuts and shared them with me, or by taking the time to keep hitting buttons and trying over and over again until I figured it out. In other words, HOURS of frustration mixed with patience, coffee, and chocolate!

Now it’s my turn to reciprocate!  If any of this is new to you, I hope you find this information useful, and that it makes writing easier!

***NOTE: The following directions and screen shots are based on Microsoft Word 2010. Similar functions can be found for 2007, though they will not be as detailed. For more advice, I suggest searching Google or YouTube for instructional videos on how to use your editing/proofing features.***

Unknown tricks to Word 2007 and 2010 to avoid unnecessary editing issues (AKA – Quick Access Tool Bar). Let’s face it, we all didn’t sit down to read the manual…

IMG_0438[1]

Screen shot of the steps below. Daunting, but well worth the work!

Use of this function will allow you to set up Word to point out common editing issues as you type, allowing you to rethink your sentence before you continue, or make it easier to find some of the editing issues that make your writing passive. To customize this feature, follow these steps:

  • Open up a blank Word Document
  • Select the REVIEW tab at the top of your screen; Right Click and select CUSTOMIZE
  • Select PROOFING. (Here you can choose what kind of typing issues you want Word to ignore or point out to you).
  • Look lower in the box marked: WHEN CORRECTING SPELLING AND GRAMMAR IN WORD
  • Select WRITING STYLE, then click on the drop box, choose GRAMMAR & STYLE, then click SETTINGS. (From here you can have Word point out EVERYTHING!!! From punctuation issues, misused words, fragment and run-on sentences, to the use of cliches phrases, and so much more. Using this feature to help point out issues you need to correct before submitting your manuscript to an editor will make the editor quickly fall in love with you!)
  • Be sure to select OK before exiting to save your settings.

***By the way, once these settings are saved, they stay that way  for every document you create, until you go in and reset them.***

I touched on this a few posts ago when sharing tips for writing query letters, but again, putting this simple step into practice BEFORE you write one word will make the rest of  your writing experience pleasant.

The Universal Settings for your Manuscript (or Prepping you MS for Query Letters and you Editor)

IMG_0440[1]

Your screen should look like this when selecting your font type and size.

Set your Font:

  • Open a blank document.
  • Select the HOME tab.
  • Choose TIMES NEW ROMAN Font with a 12 Point  size.
  • Save and exit

***Check these settings for each new document created! They do not always stay the same!***

IMG_0441[1]

This is the easiest fix!

To Set Page Borders/Margins:

  • Select the PAGE LAYOUT tab.
  • Choose MARGINS.
  • Set to NORMAL. (1 inch border on both sides and top and bottom)

***This usually the normal setting, but it never hurts to make sure it’s set correctly. Technology is funny, and can revert back to the original settings  without warning!***

IMG_0439[1]

Set your page to automatic indent and line and paragraph spacing.

  • From the HOME tab, select PARAGRAPH.
  • In the INDENTION box, choose HANGING.
  • In the SPACING box, choose DOUBLE, and change the  AFTER PT to ZERO (O)
  • Check the box below to avoid  spaces between paragraphs
  • Select OK to save changes.

***Again, check this feature with the start of any new document. The default settings are not the same as what you need when writing. Any new document created will not have your new settings.***

 Other Advice:

Here are a few more things you can do to make your writing cleaner:

  • Make sure you have clean chapter breaks. In other words, when Chapter 1 ends halfway down the page, Chapter 2 should start on a fresh page. The final page of Chapter 1 should not have the first part of Chapter 2 .
  • Italicize words meant to stand out for emphasis, do not highlight or underline.
  •  When inserting a scene break in a chapter, use ### or *** to show the break in time, or the start of a new scene and/or location. Which ever one you use, stay consistent throughout the MS, do not flip-flop.
  • If you have already written you MS and have not used these settings, there’s no need to type it over again! Simply go to page one, hold down the CTRL + A buttons; it will highlight the entire manuscript, from page 1 to 1000+. Follow the steps to set PAGE MARGINS and FONT while highlighted, and it will fix all of your work. Be sure to scroll through in order to separate your chapter headings on fresh pages, or else, some of them may find their way into the previous chapter. Don’t forget to save and back it all up when you’re done!

I know, I know, if you are technically challenged, the whole idea of learning how to properly format your work is daunting. But believe me; editors appreciate working with authors who take the time to learn how to use their writing programs. It cuts down on the amount of tedious stuff they need to do to get your work up to par, and allows them more time to focus on the real work, the mind-numbing technical side. And who knows, less work may end up saving you money!

Happy Writing!

MJ

 

Finding Inspiration: Part Three- Characters Close to Home

Building Real Characters: How to Bring Them From the Page and Into Your HeartWriters find inspiration anywhere; at the grocery store, the bank, even the activities of driver sitting next to you at the red light, can get the muse flowing. Then of course there are my favorites: family and friends.

If you have a Facebook account, I’m sure you have seen the pictures posted by someone at least once a month that says: (in a nutshell): BEWARE, I’M A WRITER, ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED IN MY NEXT BOOK.  I was at the bank the other day and had a lively conversation with my banker. Upon completion of my transaction, she asked me, ‘is this going to be in one of your stories?’ I laughed and said quite possibly.

It seems no matter how hard I try; my Muse is always working, always observing and cataloging the statements and actions of others, especially when it comes to my kids.

In the last few weeks, my children have shocked me with their ‘Remember when…’ tales. Being an only child, it never ceases to amaze me what  my four kids get into when they are unsupervised in their bedrooms. First, there was the ‘broken-glow-in-the-dark-stick incident’ that led to fluorescent yellow liquid being splashed over bedroom walls. (According to them, it wore off withing minutes, thus leading to doing it again in order to illuminate the room.  No evidence was left behind. Imagine my horror!!!) Of course a lot of sibling smacks upside the head, and then the sneaking to cut hair or trim their eyebrows disasters that ended with bad results. (Those I knew about, but it still makes me laugh to remember the results.) Funny stories that made my eyebrows shoot into the hemisphere and start to give the ‘you know better’ speech. But then I realized the issues happened months, even years ago. What’s the point?  All that’s left is ‘don’t do it again.’

Once the kids go about their evening activities, my Muse sorts through the information, while not inspiration for my adult characters’ lives, they make great character back story.

***Back Story: Insight into the protagonist nature or history through reflective flashbacks, scenes, or dialogue. This information is used to show how a character will react to certain situations.***

There are various ways to use back story.  Some authors like to use flashback during a scene or as a scene to show an incident that explains the reason for their character’s actions during the course of a story. (Think about the show LOST, whose episodes focused on the back story of a character’s life, decisions, made, and how they related to the present situation). In novels, the most common use is having a character allude to their past through dialogue, thought, or peppered in by the omnipotent voice. (Dialogue is the best way to share this information without slowing down your prose and boring a reader.)

How do you know what your characters back story will be?

By writing character outlines.

If you have  followed my blog, you know a large portion of my writing begins with focusing on deep character development. I love writing characters my readers can relate to either through their own personal experiences or someone they know. Creating well-developed back story can do that. Knowing where your characters have been, what experiences have affected them – good and bad – will give your characters a strong voice that makes them stand out.

Even if it starts from when they were kids.

In a nutshell, a well-developed back story lets you know your characters. Knowing and understanding your characters will explain their motivations. Motivations are what set up a plot. Reactions to plot twists/turns are what provide scenes. Scenes mixed with reactions are what create drama.

Whew!  Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, but as with all things in life, you get what you put in. Taking the time to sit down and understand your characters will show in your writing. It will help you understand why they interrupt your writing, and no matter how much you want the story to go one way, they hijack your manuscript.

For more on writing character outlines and finding writing inspiration, visit my previous posts:

M.J.’s on Writing- Helpful Advice for Aspiring Authors

MJ

Social Networking for Writers: Good, Bad, or Just a Waste of Time?

My iPhone Apps that keep me in the loop 24/7.

t My iPhone Apps that keep me in the loop 24/7.

Some people say good, other’s say a waste of time.  I believe it’s all in how you work it.

Nearly everyone one who has access to the internet has some type of social presence, be it Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google +, Linkedin, Instagram, Pintrest, and I am sure that’s just naming the most popular ones. My point is: readers are online. They chat about what they like and don’t like, what’s the latest trending topic, who’s got the hottest new book, and so on and so forth.

How can that benefit a writer?

No matter what type of new technology there is, nothing works as well as word of mouth. Well, think of social networking as the digital version of the age old form of publicity. The trick is how to use it.

I’ve read various blogs that say they feel it’s a waste: “All you do is try and sell your books to other authors, nobody is gonna buy because we’re all trying to get paid.”

True and false.

First of all, authors are readers, too, not just writers. We like to read a good book, discover an unknown talent, and be entertained. That’s why we write!

And yes, if you’re an unknown author, a majority of people you first connect with on social networking sites are other authors. Why? Because those authors have experience  – some more, some less than you – on how to connect with readers. Networking can teach you the ropes on navigating a new site, the best new advertising technique, where to find the best deals for self-publishing, or publishers who are looking for new material. Not to mention book signing events, (yes, even with eBook’s being the big thing, readers would still like to have their paperbacks and Kindle/Nook covers signed). But when connecting with these seasoned pros, don’t just go in for the help, talk to them, get to know  them, and yes, read their work, make an honest new friend. Support them and guess what…they will support you.Hold up, say what?????Yes, it’s true, other authors can and will help you! But don’t get it twisted, it’s a two-way street!

Networking with other authors is simple and not hard to do. Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you asked to guest post/interview/feature on an author’s blog, be sure to give them the information requested in a timely manner, drop by the post to comment, and, if you have a blog, be willing to reciprocate the favor in the future. After all, when they have you on their site, it’s exposing your work to their followers/readers. You should be willing to do the same.
  • When you have a chance to read their work, do so! Talk to them (via private chat/emails) about what they did when writing, discuss writing techniques. You’ll be surprised by how much you have in common when writing. Also, you may learn a few things not only about the writer as a person, but  something that can help you become a better writer too!
  • There’s nothing wrong with shouting out a fellow author or posting a good review if you really enjoyed the story! Remember when your mother used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”? The same goes here to. Remember, you want to support your fellow author and in turn, encourage them to do the same for you. Spreading negativity will not only turn them off, but others as well.
  • Remain a professional at ALL times. Your online presence is your digital business card.  Know when to comment on a post and when to keep your personal feelings to yourself. Don’t get caught up in negativity, political, or social issues unless it pertains to your work. Remember, your looking to establish a fan base. Fans follow authors they like wherever they can be found. Possible fans will read your post/comments, etc. and decide whether or not they want to connect with you. Also, other authors your looking to connect with may decide to avoid getting caught up in your drama, therefore cutting you out of the loop. Giving off a negative presence can ruin your writing career, no matter how long you’ve been in the game.

Above all, remember….there are millions of readers, and thousands of authors. Nobody can put out a book a week, so expecting to hog all the readers is very unrealistic. Readers want to be exposed to new writing styles, and stories. Remember, if you write a good story, they will love your work, but while they wait anxiously for your next book, they want to read something else. Expose them to an author you like and they will appreciate you more for it.

And it’s not just something an Indie Author can do….

Take a look at the back cover of your favorite NYT Bestselling Author. Other than the ever popular critique review, you’ll also find comments and shout outs from other NYT authors. Now that’s what you call having each other’s back!

MJ

Why Do I Write?

That is a question I’ve asked myself for the past three years. Before then, I was never a writer, but man was I an avid reader!

I grew up in a rural area and my mom didn’t allow me to play with the neighborhood kids as much as I wanted to. Being an only child, I spent a lot of time by myself. Barbies, stuffed animals, and Strawberry Short Cake (the original version, not the new one!) were my BFF’s. Like any little girl, I spent time making up stories and acting them out. There were times when I would borrow my parents audio cassette tape recorder (omg, now I feel dated and old!), sit down with my stuffed animals, and make up stories and songs, record them, and use them to entertain my parents.

As I got older, dolls were put away, and books became my number one source of entertainment. Stories like, The Box Car Kids, A Circle In The Sea, and Homecoming were my favorites. I can’t remember how many times I journeyed to the local community and school libraries to check them out. If you were to look at the back on the little slip of paper where you signed your name when checking them out,  (dated again!) My name would be there repeatedly.

And then I hit high school. Alice in Wonderland became my favorite read. It was around this time I ran into books from Steven King and John Grisham. I remember being freaked out by Needful Things, unable to sleep at night, yet I couldn’t put it down. A Time to Kill brought tears to my eyes, the amount of emotion and feeling the father experienced was so well written. I remember the moment I finished that novel, I made a note to read each and every novel written by John Grisham. And for the next couple of months I did just that.

That was also when I discovered movies based on books, while good, are seriously lacking. No matter how well the actors portray the characters, no matter how well the screen writer adapted the film, there is absolutely NO WAY for the audience to feel everything the author put into the story. Explanations, feelings, and reasons why a character makes the decisions that drive the plot, can never be explained without taking the time to read the words the author slaved over to tell his/her tale.

Guess movies are the fancier version of Cliff Notes, huh?

But I digress…

Somewhere down the line I decided to start reading Sci-Fi . I love stories that follow a character as they grow and evolve, you know that elusive “they’ve found their HEA, but what happened next? Are they still happy???”

Around 2002, when Star Wars: Attack of the Clones was released, my family went to watch the movie. I had always been a Star Wars fan, having developed my love of the series as a child from my father. The original SW movies were mainly about Luke Skywalker leading the rebels to overthrow the evil Emperor and his henchman, Darth Vader. But then came the new movies based on events years in the past that lead up to the original motion picture. Talk about deep character development. It answered so many questions as to who Darth Vader was and why he became the man behind the mask. (Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, by James Luceno tells you what the newly named Vader felt like in that suite!)

I found myself immersed in the world of Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. For those who have no idea what those are, let me explain. If you’ve ever watched the Star Wars movies, Episode 1-6, and I say IF because I have a family friend that has NEVER watched one in his life. (I threaten to tie him down and force him to watch a marathon, lol) For those SW die hard fans who have to know what happens after Darth Vader dies and is redeemed, the Expanded Universe novels follow Luke, Han, and Leia, their kids, and numerous other characters in a wide variety of series. The amount of novels are too many to count. How do I know? I’ve read over 40 of them, and there are more than that I have yet to read! Yep, SW geek!

As I’ve said before, I am a lover of stories that continue and don’t end with just one book. Another great series is The Lord of the Rings. Somehow I found myself reading the trilogy…twice. Tolkien was a master at not only creating worlds beyond your imagination, and characters that are memorable, he also created languages. It took him years to pull all of his stories together. Just think of the sheer magnitude of the work. Not to mention the fact that a portion of his novels were written while he sat in the trenches as a soldier during World War I as he watched his friends die around him.


What does any of this have to do with the reason why I decided to write?

Everything.

Authors write for different reasons. Some have over active imaginations that drive them to put pen to paper. Others do so as a hobby or to entertain people around them. A lot of authors write to heal while recovering from a painful memory. Be it diary, blog, endless notes, short stories, or novels.  There is some kind of a writer in all of us.

I was never one to keep a running diary. I tried it once and got bored with my life. But my imagination, on the other hand, has always run rampant, even as an adult. I found myself making up stories to keep myself entrained while waiting in the doctors office, sitting in rush hour traffic, even while lying in bed at night unable to sleep. But it wasn’t until several life altering experiences affected my family did I realize putting pen to paper and letting the emotions flow from my fingers into the lives of my characters did I start to heal. I realized I had a story to tell.

So, for me, writing and learning the craft of writing, has become my passion on many different levels.

The stories I tell, while they fall in the romance genre, are not just about romance. Yes, sex is involved because it is a part of life, but my stories will never be considered erotic romance. Contemporary romance? Yes, because my characters reside in the same day and age as you and I. Interracial Romance? Yes, because my characters are from various racial backgrounds. The love, the relationships, the bonds formed between the men and women that reside in my head go well beyond skin color. Women’s Fiction? It can fit here too because the topics I write about pertain to the many issues women today face.

Yet, my stories are not just about the women. They’re also about the men.

My stories are about love, redemption, healing, and evolving into something more than what they were in the beginning. My characters lives are like yours and mine. We ride a roller coaster of emotions. Some days are good, some days are bad. There are times of overwhelming joy, just like there are times of pain and grief. And even though my characters go through these growing pains, they come out on the other end as changed individuals, having learned from their experiences, and become better from them. And that, my dear friends, is the message I write about.

Hope, love, understanding….evolving.

Just like a butterfly…

And that is why I write.

MJ

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