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Life Updates: Part 1

Hey family, friends, and fans!

I’ve decided to start a new blog series that I will update every once in a while called “Life Updates.” Creative, I know. But it most succinctly captures everything I’m planning on telling you in these posts.

This year I planned to post to my blog weekly. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Mental health issues got in the way, and I probably shouldn’t share the specifics, but when you’re in a 24-hour battle with your mind, it’s overwhelming to just get out of bed and do the things you need to do each day. Much less keeping up with writing goals and promises.

Mental health is something I have struggled with my entire life, but especially in the last eight years. It’s frustrating because I’m the only thing holding myself back from great successes, and I can’t win this battle because it’s a battle with myself. I don’t even know where to begin in order to fight back.

But I digress.

Mental health is the biggest player in why I haven’t written in a long while, or kept up with my newsletters, or any of the things I promised myself I would do for you, my readers.

You guys keep me going, coming back to my writing again and again. Your support means the world to me.

So that’s why I was blown away by the support on twitter when I participated in a pitch contest, just for the sake of seeing if I could and if I would get any bites. I posted four tweets about two different WIPs for #carinapitch, a romance press with Harlequin.

I didn’t get any bites, but I’m proud I did it. In case you wanted to see what I was working on, here are those tweets:

The mermaid prince committed a crime: he let a human know of merpeople’s existence by saving her life and bringing her down to the underwater kingdom. Now he has three weeks to make her fall in love with him, or face execution at the hands of his uncle, the king.

This is for my completed WIP Poseidon’s Pearl that just needs editing and to go through Write of Passion’s editing and publishing process before being published.

A legend in the pack foretells that a Siren will get revenge by killing the first human mate of the Alpha in 1,000 years. So when Flynn finds out he is mated to an observant human who may or may not be trustworthy, he must figure out whether it’s love or lies.

This is for my WIP that I am still writing called Betrayal. I’m only 30k words in and most of those I got a few years ago before I abandoned the project for a new, shinier idea, but I am getting back to it and I can’t wait to share it all with you.

I got a lot of retweets and some other people even said they thought my pitch was awesome! So thank you, all of you, for your support.

In case you want to follow me on twittter for more updates and interactions, I am @HayleyGAuthor. This also works for Facebook and Instagram, though I am not very active on either of those platforms right now.

That’s another goal of mine: to be more active and interactive on social media with all of you.

I guess we’re talking about goals, now, so I may as well lay mine out for all to see:

  • Write a blog post at least once per week
  • Be more interactive with you guys on social media (Facebook and Twitter to start. I’ll add in Instagram later.)
  • Write every day
  • Read every day
  • Set deadlines for my writing
  • Set deadlines for Write of Passion’s editing and publishing process
  • Make Write of Passion into a blogging site for writing advice and book reviews
  • Publish Poseidon’s Pearl sometime within the next year

I think that’s enough goals to work on for now.

Well, this has been a rollercoaster of a post. From lamenting my mental illness to the excitement and highs of a pitch contest, to goals. I’m a bit all over the place.

Thank you for sticking with me. Your support means everything.

Happy writing!

Posted in writing advice

Pep-talk: Encouragement to Keep Writing

Sometimes we stop writing. That’s natural and part of the creative process. Sometimes we abandon projects for new ones, or take a break from creating because of comparison, life circumstances, mental health, or some harsh criticism. 

One killer of creativity is comparison. If you compare yourself to others, then you will surely struggle to create anything because you’ll be too busy analyzing every word you write to see if it measures up.

If you must compare, compare yourself to your own writing, six months to a year ago. See how far you’ve come? If you continue to write regularly, you will only get better and better. Practice makes perfect and all of that, though no one is ever perfect. Anything worthwhile is worth putting the work in. They say it takes 10,000 hours to be good at something, so don’t should on yourself for how you think you should be doing. Have you put your 10,000 hours in yet?

Life circumstances, whether it be work, kids, a death in the family, chronic illness, or another such instance, impede writing. It’s okay to take some time off, but writing can be a great way for processing your emotions, especially when grieving over a loss of a relationship, person, situation, or what-have-you. Writing will always be there for you. And the more you learn to write despite these things, the faster you’ll finish your projects. But don’t push yourself too hard. You don’t want to break in the pursuit of writing. You come first, always. Know your limits. 

Mental health is a huge factor when writing. Some days we just aren’t up to it. And that’s okay. It’s better to keep yourself healthy than have a breakdown because you forced yourself to do something you weren’t ready to do. But again, writing can act as a feelings processor and might help with your mental health. Try to figure out what works for you.

Harsh criticism is another creativity killer. But everyone receives this sort of thing. Harry Potter, one of the most world renowned book series ever, was rejected many times over. In the midst of harsh criticism, let yourself feel the feels, take a deep breath, and move on. Try to see if somewhere within the criticism there was a grain of something that could be improved. The more you write, work at, and practice your craft, the less likely you are to get harsh criticism. Just another reason to keep writing!

Writing is an important part of your life. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. Keep at it, keep working at it, keep reading craft books and learning about the industry, keep practicing, and you’ll get better. But you have to put in the work. Don’t expect to be good from the start, no matter how talented you are. 

Posted in newsletter, Updates, Writing

Sorry I’ve Been So Silent!

I’ve been silent lately and focusing on several things in the works.

For one, I am getting a short story published in Balance of Seven’s new anthology coming out November 21st, 2019 called Dragons Within: Guarding Her Own. If you keep up with me on my social media pages, you’ll have seen a lot of the posts promoting that. If not, I hope you check them out!

I also have been editing my first novel, Poseidon’s Pearl, that I plan to publish in 2020. I’m still figuring out the self-editing process before I send it to the editor, so it may be awhile.

In line with that, I am working on a short story that is the prequel to that novel as a freebie for my newsletter. I haven’t gotten my newsletter up and running yet, but I will by January of next year. At least, that’s the hope. I will keep you updated on that, as well.

I have been struggling lately with keeping up with my writing, but NaNoWriMo has kicked me into gear. I am now working on a contemporary romance.

I am also experimenting with outlining my novels to an extent. It’s getting easier to outline rather than just sitting down to write without a plan. I am officially a plantser!

I am also keeping busier with a healthy lifestyle by exercising three times a week for 45 minutes each, eating healthier, and keeping up with all of my projects. Those include running Write of Passion Literary Journal, marketing for the Dragons Within launch on November 21st, schoolwork, my writing projects, NaNoWriMo, reading every day, and being an admin of the Creative Central Facebook Group for women and non-binary writers.

If you’ll notice, I am no longer a part of Functionally Fictional or Coffee House Writers. While it pains me to have to leave them, it was necessary for my mental health as I was running on empty for a long time and finally succumbed to burnout in May and have been recovering ever since.

You’ll notice I added a page with my publications (where you can find and order Dragons Within: Guarding Her Own) and changed the name of my posts page to “Blog.”

One thing I’d like to mention about Dragons Within: You can order it now through the 28th of November for only $0.99! We (the other authors in the anthology and me) are trying to hit bestseller status on amazon, so please order or preorder it when you can. Between now and November 21st would be best. You can get your copy through the links on the publications page.

Thank you so much for your support. I will try to be more active and post blogs more often than I have been. Maybe I should join Coffee House Writers again, just so I have a deadline schedule as motivation. Probably not. I already have enough on my plate. Besides, I don’t want to burn out again.

Again, sorry for the silence. If you are still here, thank you for sticking around. It means the world to me.

Posted in Uncategorized, Updates

An Explanation of My Absence

https://unsplash.com/photos/t3ju4zsixFA
Photo by Matt Flores via Unsplash

I’ve been silent on Functionally Fictional, on my blog, and here on Coffee House Writers. I want to explain what happened and what I have learned from those experiences.

Everything started in December 2018 on my trip to see my family in Ohio. The symptoms of my mental illness, schizoaffective disorder, got worse starting near the end of May.

By the end of May, I was talking with my hallucinations all day and couldn’t pull myself into reality. I wasn’t writing. I didn’t keep up with any of my responsibilities. I was in survival mode. For a month I didn’t feel like doing anything but sleeping and interacting with my voices.

The voices told me lots of stories I believed to be real. The more I interacted with them, the more I believed they were real people.

Eventually, I scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist and got my medicine adjusted so I could pull myself out of the rut I was in and function again.

The medicine wasn’t the only thing that helped me pull out of the funk. Writing and crocheting again, getting out into the sunshine, and using coping skills like staying busy so I wouldn’t converse with the voices all helped bring me back to reality.

I realized the connection between creativity and healing. I still must relearn it repeatedly. If I don’t get my creative energy out through writing or other outlets, the energy manifests itself as the voices getting stronger; drawing me into conversations, telling me many stories and lies.

To keep the voices from misdirecting my creativity, I must… [Read More]

Posted in Writing, writing advice

Writing As A Coping Mechanism: Processing Emotions Through Fiction

https://pixabay.com/photos/typewriter-keys-write-vintage-old-1209082/
Photo by Free-Photos via Pixabay

Have you ever written something that you never planned on publishing? I start most of my articles this way. Sometimes I even start a novel that I have no intention of publishing because the real-life events I wrote about are too recognizable. I worry the people involved might realize I was writing about them.

Why would anyone write something with no intention of publishing it?

For one, it takes the pressure off and allows creativity to flow. Think about journaling. People write down their thoughts and feelings and lock them up, hoping no one ever reads them without permission. It’s a record for us to revisit all our painful and joyous times whenever we want.

Yes, most of my fiction has elements of truth, some more than others. Still, there is a reason I don’t journal as much as I write fiction. When I am journaling, there isn’t enough distance between me and myself.

What do I mean by “not enough distance between me and myself”?

When I am journaling, [Read More]

Posted in Writing, writing advice

How To Get Your Creativity Back On Track

Creativity: A lightbulb, two pencils and an eraser on a blank page
Photo by qimono via Pixabay

A lot of people in the writing-focused Facebook groups I am in have mentioned they’re depressed and don’t feel like writing. One of the most common questions asked is, “How can I get my creativity back on track?”

What I have found is the advice one person gives doesn’t always work for someone else. You must try many different things to find what works for you.

Here is a list of different tactics you can try to get your creativity back on track:

  • Take a walk, exercise, go outdoors, or run errands. Movement can help spark your creativity.

Exercise can help your creativity

Photo by StockSnap via Pixabay

  • Take a hiatus. Take as long as you need. A hiatus can last from a few hours to years. I took one for four years, from 2013 until 2017.  The four-year break gave me fire and passion to not give up on my writing. I was so tired of not writing that I needed to write.
  • Work on another creative task: baking, cake decorating, sewing, cross stitching, knitting, crocheting, drawing, sketching, playing an instrument, singing, redesigning a website, using Photoshop or graphic design software, or whatever you feel like doing. Often, doing another activity can kick-start your creativity somewhere else.

Other creative endeavors can help you get past a block
Photo by Pexels via Pixabay

  • Set an amount of time you will allow yourself to feel blocked, then force yourself to get out of the slump. Don’t let it control you, but… [Read More]
Posted in Uncategorized, Updates

The Heroine of My Life: A Therapy Exercise for Battling Negative Self-Talk

Success is being the hero of your life
Photo by Free-Photos via Pixabay

This is my latest on Coffee House Writers. I had the inspiration to write this from a friend who mentioned that her therapist had told her about this exercise. I was immediately taken with the idea and wanted to see if it could help me. This is what I came up with since I didn’t want to make an autobiography out of it. You can read the full article here. I hope you enjoy!

The Heroine of My Life:

** Trigger Warning** Mentions of Suicidal Thoughts and Bullying

Someone suggested as a therapy exercise to write my story. However, there was a simple requirement. I had to make myself the strong heroine with a happy ending instead of playing the victim. It’s an exercise to battle negative self-image and self-talk.

Here’s my story:

As a young child, I already had a stubborn personality. I liked to call it determination. My mother and I often butted heads because of this personality trait. It was something she called a battle of wills.

Traits of kindness, loyalty and caring for others appeared. I had a strong sense of justice and always helped others. I love helping my friends figure out their problems.

I was a take-charge kind of person. If I had an idea, I was passionate about; it would consume me to the point of obsession. I would work on the project until I couldn’t work on it anymore. I would stop after exhausting the possibilities or resistance from others.

But, as is always the case with young, strong-willed creatives, it put me through trial after trial of resistance.

I was creative; I was always writing fiction and reading whatever I could get my hands on. When eating, I read cereal boxes or labels on food containers to keep my mind occupied.

I was intelligent. My mind was always thinking. I would evaluate problems and ways to solve them. I sought to understand the world around me, why people thought and acted the way they did. I often wondered why I thought and acted the way I did. Understanding how and why things worked was critical for me. My endless questions of “why” often irritated my parents. They often told me to look answers up in the ancient encyclopedia we had or, later,  [Read More]

 

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How 10 Months With My Grandma Taught Me More Than 20 Years With My Parents

https://www.pexels.com/photo/affection-appreciation-decoration-design-424517/
Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels

In my last article, An Open Letter To My Mom, I mentioned how my grandma had helped me. I thought I would elaborate.

The Move

On August 2017, Grandma heard Mom was having trouble with me. Mom had told her and the rest of the family about our problems. Despite this knowledge, she offered to let me live with her for the foreseeable future. For this, I owe her my life.

In the previous three months, I got kicked out of my grandparents’ house and my parents’ house for the second time. I thought I had used up all my family favors and would have to strike out on my own. This was something I was not ready for.

My mental illness is severe enough to make cashiering and food service jobs stressful enough to land me in the hospital. I was not qualified for any other job. Therefore, striking out on my own was impossible. Not to mention I couldn’t handle school and a job at the same time.

So, when Grandma offered to take me in, I saw it as a Godsend. I was determined not to mess it up.

The Rules

I felt nervous and excited when I arrived from the airport. From the get-go, Grandma stated the ground rules. First, always be honest. When you have a problem with something someone else in the house is doing, say something. Second, everyone contributes. You can cook dinner, wash dishes, clean, vacuum, anything as long as you contribute. No one will nag you to do things. You must do them of your volition. Third, we help and support each other. If you need something, tell the household what it is and how they can help. [Read More]