writing

Yes you can, and yes you do

I hear a lot of things when I tell people I’m an author. There’s the usual “What kind of books do you write?”, the ever popular, “Do you make a living doing that?” and another one of my favourites, “Anything I might have heard of?”*, but there’s also a lot of “I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I can’t do that” or “I don’t have time to do what you do.”

As always, I want to make it clear that while I’m using writing as my experience and example, I believe the following applies to all kinds of artistic expression:

Yes you can, and yes you do.

There is really only one rule to completing that story you’ve always wanted to tell: butt in chair.**

It’s justa matter of putting down one word at a time, which leads to one sentence, paragraph, page, and eventually a final story at the end. It can be difficult to keep yourself motivated, absolutely, but that’s not a problem of can’t, it’s only an issue of learning how.

Discipline/motivation is a skill, and it’s one that needs to be strengthened over time using whatever strategy works best for you. Rewards, breaking big tasks down into bite-size ones, to-do lists, asking someone to hold you accountable. Try them all, change things when they don’t work, but keep going.

And once you’re invested in the project, finding the time won’t be a problem.

I recently started a short-term government contract (I really needed to get out of the house and talk to someone who wasn’t my cat), which meant a complete overhaul of my work schedule, reverting back to my previous full-time work system.

Has it been a challenge? Absolutely.

Have some things been pushed back or ignored on the to-do list longer than they otherwise would have? Oh man, have they ever.

But the important stuff is still getting done. I carve out the time. My family knows and understands that just because I also have a 37.5 hour work-week for a few months, writing is still my priority.

Between 4:45 – 7:30am, I’m at my desk getting in words, or editing, or updating my website. Lunch hours are partially spent replying to business emails. After work, I take a bit of time to prioritize my tasks for tomorrow.

It’s not easy, but because it matters so much to me, I make it possible.

So the next time you’re struck with the desire to tell your story in whatever form best suits you, stop shooting yourself in the foot before you even begin. Stop discouraging yourself and putting yourself down. You are absolutely capable holding that finished project in your hands, whether it takes you a week or three years. I encourage you to do it, because your story is one that has never been told before. Even if you think it is, no one has told it the way you could.

Put any believe that capability or time is what’s holding you back and ask yourself the only question that matters: how badly do I want this?

Have you recently decided to tackle the project you’ve been putting off? Let me know in the comments!


*because this one never leads to awkwardness. Ever.
**figuratively or literally, depending on your preferred set-up or method. With dictation, sit-stand desks, treadmill desks, or the classic “working at the kitchen counter”, chairs are really not a requirement.

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Ill Met by Moonlight: Chapter 1

unnamedThe Project

[Study 16487-D, referred to from this point as Project Oberon. Day 1, 0800h] Six subjects arrived on schedule. Subjects seven through ten have made no communication subsequent to the initial orientation — decision: the study will proceed with a total of six subjects. Following discussion, the majority (8-4) has agreed that six is sufficient to gain the data the study aims to collect over the course of the next two weeks. Testing for conditions and to eliminate incompatible subjects will commence at 0900h.

[Project Oberon, Day 2 , 1400h] Testing has been completed and subjects have been tagged as follows:

315: female, 24, 5’6, 145lbs, no known health concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests clear

526: male, 22, 5’8, 237lbs, previous history of asthma but no current symptoms — decision: no concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests clear

536: male, 25, 6’3, 205lbs, no known health concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests clear

325: female, 27, 5’8, 125lbs, no known health concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests showed slight anemia — decision: clear

335: female, 24, 5’3, 130lbs, hospitalization for pneumonia 4x in last twenty years — decision: no concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests clear

345: female, 23, 5’7, 105lbs, no known health concerns, stress tests showed increased blood pressure and heart rate — decision: no immediate concern; will monitor status and remove subject if required, blood tests clear

[1500h] Subjects have read and signed all documentation. Informed consent has been granted. All have agreed to the conditions and have given full permission to the study heads to perform the following:

  1. Induce a coma using an injection of propofol
  2. Alter the condition of their physical surroundings to monitor any effect said changes have on their physical/physiological status with an aim to determine whether dreams can be manipulated by external conditions

Subjects have also sworn to maintain confidentiality at the end of the two weeks, per the confidentiality agreement, or risk legal repercussions.

For the part of the researchers, our responsibilities are:

  1. To ensure the safety and well-being of our subjects at all times
  2. To end the study at any sign of serious effects on the well-being of our subjects
  3. To remain within the ethical mandate of our study and only apply the changes of condition necessary for obtaining the data required

[Project Oberon, Day 3, 0900h] Subjects have been assigned beds 13 through 19. Subjects have again been briefed on what the study will entail and what they might expect once the propofol takes effect.

[1100h] Propofol has been administered. Subjects’ conditions are stable, and testing can begin.


I open my eyes at the shout of crows somewhere overhead. A breeze drifts over my skin. I expect to shiver, but don’t feel the cold.

It takes me a minute — maybe longer than it should — to realize I don’t know where I am, and another few moments to realize that if I want to figure it out, I need to sit up and look.

My body feels strange. Kind of light and distant, like I’m not really here, so I move slowly. I start by digging my fingers into the ground beneath me and am confused when they sink into the surface. Dirt? I rub my fingertips together to confirm it.

So I’m outside. That’s a start.

I run my hand over the ground and recognize the familiar sensation of grass on my palm, tickly and light. It still feels strange, but gradually I think I’m coming into myself.

Carefully, I sit up and have to blink into the darkness surrounding me. The bright moon highlights the tops of the trees ten feet ahead and the water twenty feet to my left. I seem to be standing on the edge of a beach, where the grass gives way to a fine sand. Reflections of the light on the water cast rippling shadows across the beach and over my hands when I hold them out in front of me. I’m still not certain of where I am. Or even who I am.

My name is Regan, that much I remember, but if someone asked for my birthday or the names of my parents, I don’t know if I could tell them. It’s there. I feel the information in the back of my mind like a distant memory, but when I reach out for it, it vanishes. But maybe that’s okay. For now, I’m all right with just being Regan.

I look down at myself and my confusion increases. These aren’t my clothes. The Regan I know myself to be would never wear these clunky army boots or cargo pants. The black T-shirt is familiar enough, but it hugs my body in a way I wouldn’t be comfortable with if I were walking down the street.

A niggling sense of explanation tickles the back of my mind, but disappears before I can latch on to it.

For now, I let it go and turn my attention to the rest of my surroundings. The water appears to be a clear, calm lake, without even the ripples of fish making their lazy way under the surface. It’s eerie. Lifeless. A shiver runs down my spine, and I’m relieved to feel a natural response from my body. This sense that I’m wrapped in gauze refuses to go away.

I turn to look at the woods. Despite the cries of the crows, the trees are as still as the water, untouched by the breeze or anything living within.

I don’t like it here. My stomach clenches as I take another pass and realize there’s nowhere to go. A boat sits at the end of the dock stretching over that still, seemingly empty water, and I spot a cabin at the end of the path, its windows dark and unwelcoming. But there’s no car, no signs, nowhere that tells me how to get home.

I rub my arms, expecting goosebumps, but there are none.

At the height of the silence, I jump at the sound of a high-pitched squeak behind me. I whirl back towards the woods and for a moment there’s nothing. It’s only when the bushes to my left rattle that I make out what’s there.

The taste of blood fills my mouth as my heartbeat races, and I raise my fists, though I don’t know what that’s supposed to achieve.

In front of me, creeping out of the bushes, is what looks like the result of a bear romancing a rat. The size of a cub, its fur is matted and thick, its pointed nose twitching as it scents the air.  Red eyes glare at me, and in them is nothing but malice and hunger. I back away, but it follows. My lungs can’t seem to suck in enough air, and I wish beyond anything that I was somewhere else. That someone would appear and help me. But I’m lost and I’m alone.

The rat starts to run, but I’m already on the edge of the water. I back my left foot into the lake, and although I can feel the water lapping against my ankle, there’s no cold, no wetness.

The beach is empty of weapons. Not even a branch I can grab to fend this monster off. It’s grinning at me now, its sharp teeth catching the glow of the moon. A sharp hiss emanates from its throat.

It lunges.

I raise my hands and squeeze my eyes shut. I imagine the rat flying away from me, into the trees.

There’s a loud shriek and the sound of branches being broken.

I open my eyes and stare across the empty beach. The rat is gone, and in the distance I hear it scurrying away through the woods.

What just happened? I stare down at my hands, but they’re just my hands.

The truth hits me like the weight of that rat against the trees. The dream study. This world, this night, that rat, me, none of it is real.

Was this what was supposed to happen? I’d been told that I would be put into a medically induced coma, and that the doctors would attempt to manipulate my dreams. But although I feel strange, my consciousness is far more aware than it is in even my most lucid dreams.

I stare at my hands again. Had I really made that rat fly into the forest?

My lips curl into a smile as I walk up the beach. Cool.

But if this is my home for the next two weeks, I might as well get comfortable.

Once again, I turn my attention to the world around me and start off to explore.

Where should Regan go first: the boat or the cabin?

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NEW RELEASE: Light of the Stygian Orb

orb_promo

As an archer who is deafblind, sixteen-year-old Molly Harris has always lived an exceptional life, but since rescuing the angel-demon hybrid Zachariel and being introduced to the otherworld, she’s craved a different kind of extraordinary. On her mission for answers, however, Molly realizes the road to the truth is more treacherous than she expected.

Zachariel is a freak of nature who has never fit in anywhere, and he’s grown comfortable with his solitary existence. Now, not only does he have a nosy teenager invading his personal space, he’s also dealing with a shady demon who wants to recruit him for a secret project — and who won’t take no for an answer.

As Zach delves into the demon’s scheme, he discovers he’s an unwilling pawn in a life-or-death game. Zach and Molly may be an unlikely team, but it rests on them to hold back the threat that could shake the foundations of the world.

Light of the Stygian Orb is the last book in The Invisible Entente series before the finale, which will be available winter 2018.

What readers are saying:

“I’ve known Krista Walsh as a fantastic Fantasy writer; now she has proven that she has the same exceptional talent in the Paranormal Mystery genre as well.”

“This a 5 star read all the way.”

“Krista weaved an amazing story of Zack and Molly which kept the pages turning”

“This is a really good supernatural fantasy story. The characters are complex and the description is fantastic – the images Walsh creates of Zach’s grappling with the effects of his demon and angel blood are both beautiful and impressive. There’s also a good touch of humour, something Walsh always does without making the whole book seem silly, and there are one or two really spooky moments as well. I’ve read the rest of the series, and I think this is my favourite.”

Grab your copy online by clicking this link or come see me in person at Chapter Gloucester on November 4, 2017 from noon until four to get your signed copy and swag!

Click here to read the first chapter

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Day 7

I met to post a weekly report yesterday, but got wrapped up in family things…and then my brain decided it didn’t want to work anymore, curled up into a corner, and spent the afternoon snoring while I tried to get some reading done. Thanks, Daylight Saving Time.

So I’ll include a bit of a week 1 update now as I dive into the start of week 2:

I hit 25k, which puts me halfway through the NaNo goal and a little over a third of the way through my first draft goal of 60k (although I suspect it’ll be a little more like 70 or 75 at this rate)

The daily afternoon scene prep to get me ready for the next day’s writing has been incredibly helpful, and it’s probably a system I’ll stick with going forward. I found this past weekend, because of all the family stuff, I had a hard time connecting with the story. I was constantly watching the clock, but also wanting to get my words in for the day. If I hadn’t had my scene descriptions guiding me forward, I likely would have written all sorts of digressions or mindless babble just to fill the space. With the heavy lifting already done, I just had to turn it into words.

So if you’re struggling, consider that one of my suggestions.

As I get into today’s work, I’m still winding down from the weekend, so I might try a bit of meditation to clear out the clutter in my head.

How are you progressing? What tricks are you using to stay focused? What do you think of your novel so far? Share in the comments!

 

Do What You Love?

As I reach the mid-way point in my 12-month “Full-Time Author Test”, I thought I’d share some of my experiences and perspectives on the mission of “following my dreams”.

When I first stepped into the FT arena, I had a plan. I weighed out all the pros and cons, talked through every element that I should watch out for: money, isolation, mental health, etc. I waited until I was sure I had a solid foundation before I took the leap.

At the end of January, my plans fell through. There were delays in my latest book release, and that delay led to a drop in sales, and a delay in the release of my next book. Those delays and sales drops meant a hit to my finances, and in May, I was sure I’d have to cut my 12-month trial off early to go back to work.

Fortunately, my support team is the best I could have asked for. My fiance and I sat down and rearranged our budget to make sure I could take another six months without any more of a hit. We’re currently working on some really fun promo material for my next series to try to get some new eyes on it. We’re talking about beginning a new project – a podcast about two artists living together, following different streams of our craft, and the ups and downs of it all.

Even when the pitfalls loom, I’m so grateful I have people who will help me stay on a solid foundation.

I knew before I went to full-time that money would be tight. I chose to skip Ottawa Comic Con this year so I could afford the GORGEOUS covers for my new series (the cover reveal is coming July 1 to my newsletter subscribers!). My social life is in a bit of a lull, because I don’t have the easy-access cash to go out very often. Every coffee I buy is a debate of whether I should get out of the house for a while and spend the $1.89 on a Tim’s cappucino, or if I should stay home and make one for free.

And money isn’t the only challenge.

One of the most common questions I’m asked when I tell people I write full time is whether I have issue getting to work in the morning and if I get distracted by everything going on at home.

My problem actually lies on the reverse side, as my fiance can tell you. I’m a bit of a workaholic. I begin my day when he leaves for his dayjob at 6:30a.m., and there are many times I’ll continue working until dinner 12 hours later. In my case, my self-discipline has grown in knowing when to walk away at the end of the day. To leave my work in my office as best I can and appreciate the rest of the day outside of my books.

The work-life balance is harder to handle when they’re one and the same (as they’ve always been, because an artist can never really get out of her own head), so I practice this by going out for long walks most days of the week.

There have been days where it’s taken all of my energy to sit down at the computer and get to work because I feel I’m not making any progress in my business. FAILURE is a terrifying word, and even though my rational brain knows that there’s no such thing – because even if the details don’t go according to plan, I’m still going to be ahead of where I was at the beginning of the year with so much more experience under my belt – it’s still a prospect that makes taking the next big step scary. Being your own boss, trying to make a go of it in the arts in a city where the arts have a hard time taking hold, means a lot of uncertainty.

I’m not saying this to whine or seek sympathy – again, I KNEW this would be the case. I’m sharing it for those of you who are on the fence to make the same leap and take risks with your dreams.

It’s a big choice. It’s a scary choice. If I were on my own and didn’t have the support of my family, I don’t know how well I would be holding up.

On the other hand, I can say, without any doubt, that I have no regrets about making my choice. For the last six months, while I’ve still had to wake up to my fiance’s alarm, I have never dreaded getting out of bed in the morning. My to-do list is always full of tasks I look forward to tackling.

I may cry, I may stuff my face with cookies, I may even bury myself in books for hours in the evenings, but every day I get to wake up and do what I love – do what I’ve always dreamed of doing with my life – and the reward for that is priceless.

So should you take the risk and jump into your dreams with both feet? That’s up to you. Be sure you’re ready for it and you know what’s coming. But once you’re really really certain – take a good look at what’s holding you back.

Life is crazy, loud, and full of uncertainty anyway – why not lose yourself in something that makes you look forward to greeting each  day?

 

What’s next?

What is the title of your work in progress?

The Invisible Entente series

Book 1 – The Invisible Entente, a prequel novella

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to come up with some new content for my newsletter subscribers. I enjoy sending free short stories for my loyal readers. So I tried to come up with a new, exciting idea.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie novels and over the winter, BBC’s Poirot mysteries were my go-to to pass the cold, dark evenings. The more I watched and read and studied Christie’s style, the more I realized I wanted to stake a stab at writing a cozy mystery. Who doesn’t love the round-up at the end where the spunky detective accuses everyone in turn, building up the suspense until she denounces the real murderer?

But I’m a fantasy author, and I didn’t want to step too far outside my genre, so I brainstormed ways to merge the two – and the IE prequel was born.

Currently, this novella is available for free for my newsletter subscribers, but in another month, it will be removed from the subscription bundle and will be available to purchase via my usual ebook/paperback distributors.

From there, as it seems to happen, an entire series revealed itself. Each of the characters introduced in this round-table mystery is getting his or her own fantasy/mystery novel.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban fantasy with a cozy mystery twist

What is a one sentence synopsis for your book?

Prequel: Following the death of a mad scientist warlock, seven murder suspects are transported into a magically sealed room and only six can leave.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published – and I couldn’t be more excited about it. My team behind this series is strong, and the results will show it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The prequel took me a couple of weeks, but each novel takes me about a month. The rest of the work comes during edits and early outlining.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

One of the elements I’m most excited to play with in this series is taking familiar creatures/characters from mythology and twisting them into new forms. Among others are a descendant of Vidar, the Norse god of vengeance and silence; a Gorgon-fae, the descendant of Medusa; and a sorceress from the line of Morgan le Fay.

Each character has a unique voice, and a unique perspective on the humanity they both live in and apart from. Each story touches on a different aspect of “otherness” and what it means to stand on the outside looking in.

I’ve got some really fun ideas for promo and can’t wait to get started.

Expected kick-off date: August 2016

 

Dreamchasing: A touch of inspiration

On May 1, I have my first public talk of the year on the subject of inspiration and the importance of setbacks on the path to realising your dreams.

Read on for an abridged version of the talk

***

Stories are such an important part of our lives. They’ve been a part of human culture from as far back as we can track, and the tradition carries on in obvious ways today. We tell stories every single day, whether it’s telling our friend something that happened to us at the bank or sharing our plans for the weekend with our families. We read them to relax before bed; we watch them to escape from the daily grind.

But the truth is stories are more than something we share with each other, it’s what we are. Every single one of us has a story to tell, but also one to live.

My plan was to continue on the same theme I’ve touched on before – the importance letting inspiration guide you. Because what else drives us to get out of bed in the morning and slog through the rest of our responsibilities other than the energy that comes from chasing our dreams?

But, in the best laid plans, all of my intentions this time fell apart, and for the last month I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with a topic.

One of the reasons we chose May 1 as the date was because my book was supposed to be available by now, and I was to announce my book launch. So I’ve been in a rut. A delay came up with my current book that set me back a month and a half with a financial hit. That delay led to a cascade of other delays, and rushed deadlines, and extra work that’s had me buried under heaps of hair-tearing frustrations. Buried under all of that was the message I wanted to give for my talk.

Because how could I offer a talk on inspiration when I had so much trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? It’s not like anyone else here can relate to that feeling of being at a bottom of a pit and believing it’s impossible to dig your way out – right?

And obviously all of these frustrations and disappointments and sense of stagnation are permanent, and I’m never going to move forward and nothing is ever going to change – right?

The more I asked myself these questions – and realised how silly they were – the harder I searched for a topic. Along the way, I started thinking about how much is actually going well for me right now, and as I thought about all of these positive things, I came back to this idea of story, particularly the story of chasing your dreams, and how the plot is never as straightforward as it seems from the outset. Because that’s a hard truth about dreams and inspiration – the results are never as easy to reach as they might appear from the beginning.

At the beginning, everything seems rosy. The inspiration to achieve a certain dream comes to us when we’re not thinking about it – in meditation or while we’re doing something mindless like walking or washing the dishes. In that flash of epiphany, we get a glimpse of that ideal painting we want to create, or the business we want to start, or the novel we want to write.

The inspiration comes without any obstacles and appears as the finished project – the glory of what COULD and WILL be.

Only it’s never that easy as “see it and make it happen”, is it? Almost immediately we stumble on the roadblocks that hold us back. Money – skills – strategy – other people.

This is where a lot of people throw up their hands and walk away. When you can see the final result so clearly in your mind, the realization of how much effort needs to go into it to realise that final product can seem daunting. The steps can seem greater than anything you feel prepared to deliver.

But what if we look at these projects with an analogy.

What if birth is the inspiration and death is the final result? Do we really want to rush to reach that end? Snap our fingers and say “Well, that was fun. What’s next?” No, we want to draw it out. We want to experience things as they happen – so why is it so hard to do that with our dreams?

I believe one of the greatest reasons for frustrations and disappointments is that we tune out our inspiration and we listen to what people are saying. People, right? They always get in the way. Especially when we try to step outside of the expected norms of society to do our own thing, which is what we do every single day when we’re on the path of realising our dreams.

When I decided to leave my job behind and write full time for a year, many of my co-workers asked me – out of genuine and kind concern – if I was sure I was ready to make such a big decision.

I saw what they meant. Not only would I have to be able to cover important expenses like rent or food, I would also need to invest in the business. I would also be isolated, so have a higher chance of depression. There were days when I debated the wisdom of my choice, and if I’d been any less certain, I would have allowed those questions to hold me back.

But when we’re sure of what we want in life, the voice that guides us to take the leap will be louder than the ones that tell us to stay put – as long as we’re listening for it.

And the voices of opposition don’t stop after you’ve taken the first step. Reviews, feedback, nay-sayers, they’re always around, and they’ll weigh us down, even if they’re not aware they’re doing it. Even if their intention is to be supportive and caring. It often has nothing to do with being mean, it has to do with you stepping outside the bounds of expectation.

And the farther you go outside the norm, the louder those negative voices become. So what’s a dreamer to do? If it’s clear that the people around you don’t like what you’re doing, or think you’re not great at it, or that you won’t succeed, then the only obvious decision is to give up and walk away.

Thank you.

Wait, what? If it sounds ridiculous when I say it, why do our brains make us think it’s a really great idea when we tell it to ourselves?

If realising our dreams was supposed to be easy, we could pick them up at the corner store.

In my own experience, every mistake I make, every perceived failure, every negative review is essential for my progress. They teach me so much along the way – even if the lesson is how to drown them out.

I recently read a wonderful book about the importance of failing. How every failure can open the way to opportunity. Last year, I gave myself the goal of making as many mistakes as possible, and, yeesh, let me tell you, I succeeded. Every delay that happened at the beginning of this year can be attributed to the mistakes I made last year.

But I learned from it. And more importantly, I learned it for myself. Because we pass many people in life who believe they have all the answers, and sometime these people are exactly who we need to meet at exactly the time we need to meet them, but at other times, the lesson they’re trying to teach us is not one we’re ready to learn, or they’re delivering it in a way that makes us think we can’t succeed. We have two choices when dealing with this latter group: we can discount what they say or we take their advice and find our own ways to learn the lesson. Only then can we move forward with the confidence that our dreams are our own and not someone else’s.

Everything is learning.

The challenge is holding on to your faith. Believing that the more you work, the more you’re moving forward, even when it doesn’t feel like you are. Even when all you get is obstacle after obstacle.

Does that mean sometimes changing the method you’re using? Yes. Does that sometimes mean taking a break from your task to hone up on your skills? Absolutely. But even delays in reaching our dreams are worthwhile if it means we’ve learned something along the way.

The challenges are no less important to the journey than the successes.

The same is true of any story, and, absolutely, every single one of us is a story.

Imagine you’re reading a book, and from the front cover to the last, there’s nothing but good things. The hero meets the girl, gets the girl, gets the dream job, rises to the top in a matter of years, has kids, grandkids, and spends the rest of his retirement travelling the globe in his private jet that he can afford because his life is so perfect.

That sounds great for him, but boring for anyone else.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be reading that book thinking, “Where does the dragon come in? When does the wife get abducted by aliens and he needs to use all his riches to build the space module to go after her? When does he DEVELOP?” Because I guarantee that a character with that much perfect will be the same man on page one as he is in the final paragraph.

And the same is true for every single one of us.

Achieving our dreams is a fantastic, wonderful, ultimate goal, but the ups and downs are required for any good journey. Any good story. Drama, loss, fear, excitement, wonder – they’re what make the plot interesting.

If you have a dream and you’re on the fence about going for it, what’s stopping you? The fear that you won’t achieve it? All that’s standing in your way is you. The worry that you don’t have what it takes? You probably don’t. Not at first. But you’re not achieving your dream based on what you know now, you’re achieving your dream based on everything you’re going to learn between the starting point – today – and the end goal, which could be tomorrow or ten years from now.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t be painless, but every lesson you learn along the way will give you the satisfaction of moving forward – the knowledge that you’re on the path you know in your gut you’re supposed to take.

You can’t prepare for everything, but if you keep the goal in mind – that perfect image of the final result – you can weave your way through the minefield that comes when you get distracted by your loud, muddled thoughts and get caught in the quagmire of opinions, and mistakes, and what some people might perceive as failure.

But even in those moments, remember the wise words that an internet meme once shared with me. “When things don’t go according to plan, yell PLOT TWIST and move on” – because it’s just part of your story. It’s part of the journey. And when you finally reach that top step and grab your dream – that perfect image that inspired you to push through the troubles to begin with – appreciate every spill and tumble you took to get there, because without one of those falls, you might not have reached the goal.

We all have our own stories to tell, but, more importantly, we are all stories. Every morning, wake up reminding yourself of that. Every day is a new blank page, just waiting for you to fill it with your own words and your own dreams. So what are you waiting for? Go on out there and chase them.

Grandmother – a flash fiction story

It’s been a busy week here at Casa Walsh (named, of course, after my cat and not me, because we all know who runs the show here). It took a few days to process a random tragedy in my building last week, but now I’m getting back into the swing of things. Great timing, too, because I have two events to plan for before the end of the month!

Quick plug before I get on with my post: I’m doing a book signing this coming Sunday, and the weekend after that you can find me as a vendor at the Awesome Adventure Academy (Jan 31 & Feb 1) at the Nepean Sportsplex in Ottawa! I’ll have books and art available for you.

It’s also been busy because I’m still getting Raven’s Quill Press up and running as a home business. Lots of little details to consider and organisation/discipline that need to be formed. So far I’m doing well. Not to say there are no social media distractions throughout the day, but since I’m not drafting anything new at the moment (more updates next week, I hope), I haven’t been reining it in too much.

One thing I have tried to stay on top of is my page-a-day short stories. You might recall I attempted this last July and managed a few weeks before I quit. To be fair, I threw myself into drafting and then editing EVENLIGHT, so it’s not like I wasn’t doing anything! As part of my work-from-home goals, I’ve started the habit up again and have been doing a pretty decent job since Jan 1.

Aside from keeping my words from going rusty, these page-a-days have become a really great exercise.  Turns out it can be challenging to come up with a new idea every day. I sometimes need to run through my whole day to find one moment that can inspire two hundred words. Dayjob frustrations, the weather, dreams (they’re the easy ones), an emotion, a brief game of “I Spy”.

The stories vary  between stream of consciousness style, dialogue, a description – anything that comes out of my pen once I get started. Interested in writing, but not sure where to begin? Why not give this a shot? It doesn’t have the stress of having to plot out a whole novel, but it will create the discipline you need to get that novel done! I’ll also give a shout-out to  K.L. Schwengel, who does an incredible job hosting the WIPpet Wednesday (where you post snippets of your current work in progress) – it’s a good motivator to have something new each week if you’re already working on that magnum opus.

If you want to try the page-a-day, why not shoot me a message? We can motivate each other to get them done.

Here’s a random piece I wrote a few weeks back:

Grandmother

“Do you have a boyfriend yet?”
I’d been waiting for the dreaded question all evening. It was inevitable. I wondered if there existed any grandmother in the world who didn’t ask that question of their single granddaughter at every opportunity. Was there a manual for these grey-haired ladies?
“No, Nan, not yet!” I replied, as always in that same tone of forced cheer.
“What ever happened to Todd? Do you still hear from him?”
The lying douchebag who cheated on me with his secretary. So cliché.
“Nope,” I said, still cheerful. “But I’m sure he’s just fine.”
“Good. He was an asshole. Simpered too much. You can do better.”
I smiled. This was why I still came to visit my grandmother. I loved that woman.
“Here,” she said, handing me a plate. “Have some cookies.”