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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: fear, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Deciding To Worry About That Tomorrow

Two posts about fear and worry in the past few weeks? Yeah, you bet. Because I’ve been skiing for the past few weeks, and that always reactivates all the fear cells in my body and makes me think about my safety in ways I don’t normally have to in my everyday life.

I like the ground. I like dirt. I love to run and hike and backpack–all at my own bodily speed.

But when you’re at the mercy of gravity and two slick planks speeding over slippery snow, that’s not normal. Even Olympic downhill racers will tell you so.

The problem is, I love it. Love leaving my southwest desert town where it’s already in the mid-80s (sorry, east-coasters) and going to the mountains where it’s still winter. Love being out in the snowy wilderness with husband and dogs, cross-country skiing for hours at a time while our year-old black Labrador, Moose, rolls in every snowbank he can find and the older Lab, Bear, trots along beside us hoping he won’t have to run too much because really, this is fun and all, but isn’t it time for a nap?

So to reconcile those two things, I’ve had to adopt the Worry About That Tomorrow schedule.

It’s something I read about years ago, and thought was ridiculous–until I tried it.

The idea is to schedule your worry. Decide, “Okay, at 3:00 PM every Thursday, I’m going to sit down for an hour and really cut loose. Remind myself of everything I’ve been afraid of all week–maybe even keep a list of worries for just that reason–and then sit down and go through each of them and really feel the fear. No shame, no holds barred. Steep in it. Go.”

Sure, some weeks by the time Thursday afternoon came around I was already over the anxiety I’d felt about something on Monday. But there were also times when I really looked forward to giving myself permission to flip out if I wanted to. It feels good to be your own best friend and say, “Okay, let’s hear it. Tell me everything.”

Once I got used to putting off fear until a specific day of the week, I learned to extend it for weeks at a time. And eventually to months. Here’s what I’m talking about:

It was the beginning of summer. Sweltering hot (see March temperature above and add 30 degrees to it). I was reading Outside Magazine and came across an article about outdoor summer adventures in Iceland.

Ice-land. YESSSSS.

Luckily, I have the kind of husband who, when I send him an e-mail asking, “Want to go to Iceland in a few weeks?” writes back succinctly, “Sure.”

So I started planning and reserving, and put together an awesome adventure trip. One that included staying on an Icelandic horse farm for a week, then kayaking in the North Atlantic, then backpacking on this very remote, rugged, isolated spot of land.

And to do all that, we’d have to (1) ride on big horses, (2) ride in small boats, and (3) ride in small planes. All of which have a history of activating my fear cells.

But I really wanted to do it. Really wanted the adventure, all those experiences, and especially really wanted to get the heck out of the hell temperatures we were experiencing.

So I just scheduled my fears. Picked a date on the calendar that was a few days after our trip was over, and made myself the solemn promise that I would completely freak out then about all of the dangers I had to face.

And I’m telling you, it worked.

Every time my heart started to beat a little faster during the trip, I’d remind myself, “Not now. Later.” And because I was so used to keeping my promise about fully feeling the fear at scheduled times, I knew that promise was real. So I immediately settled down.

We did crazy things for those two and a half weeks. Scary, dangerous things that I didn’t even know we’d be doing when I planned the trip. And I was completely serene about all of them.

And ever since then, because of that, I know I can flip the switch on and off. That was a really important experiment for me. And it’s a skill I’ve taught friends and family, and a lot of them have had similar successes.  It’s doable, people, I promise you. You can put your fears under your own control. I urge you to try the experiment for yourself.

I’ve also learned to apply it to my writing life. I always have dual reactions when a new book of mine comes out. On the one hand, I’m all, Look! I made this for you! I hope you all read it and love it!” But there’s an equally strong part of me that says, “No! Don’t read that! It’s full of my feelings and opinions! It’s too personal! Look away!”

It reminds me of a friend of mine whose little 3-year-old boy stood with her in the checkout lane at a grocery store, and had his hands down the front of his pants. The customer behind him kept looking at him and smiling, and finally the little boy blurted out, “Stop looking at me!”

Sorry, little dude, but if you’re going to stand in public with your hands down your pants, people are going to look.

That’s right, launching a new book is like standing around with your hands down your pants. You heard it here first.

I definitely had that reaction to my new book THE GOOD LIE coming out last month. I’d been sitting on it for a while, but then when that Woody Allen-Dylan Farrow controversy broke in January of this year, I knew I had some of my own feelings and opinions about the topic that I wanted to share. So I released the book, but definitely felt both “Read it!” and “Don’t read it!” at the same time.

So as with all of my books, I’ve had to pick a date in the future–four months seems about right–when I’m allowed to worry about it. On June 5 I will sit down and have a whole long session about it. But until then, nope, sorry, it’s all just perfectly fine.

Which makes this seem like a good spot to include this button you can push to enter to win a free signed copy of the book later next month. Go ahead. I’m not afraid. How can I be? It’s not even close to June 5 yet.

But I’m telling you, on that day, whew. Look out.

Good luck with your own experiments. Feel free to report back. :)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Good Lie by Robin Brande

The Good Lie

by Robin Brande

Giveaway ends April 25, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

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2. Barking Mad

Two dogs bark at the moon.
Left: Adobe Ideas on iPad
Right: Sketches/Artset/Snapseed on iPad
Click to enlarge.

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3. Books to get ready for Back-to-School

Back-to-school is here! Summer is coming to a close and classrooms are prepping to welcome new students to take the long journey through the next grade. The first day of school can be scary for many children, especially as they enter a new school, or are beginning school for the first time. So, in honor of the first day of school we have compiled a list of Sylvan Dell books that are great reads to prepare for that first day.

Giraffe_187The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights – Imagine if the one thing that keeps you safe is what you fear the most. This enchanting story tells of a giraffe who suffers from the fear of heights. His parents worry about his safety and send him to the village doctor for treatment. Along the way he befriends a monkey who is afraid of climbing trees and a hippo that is afraid of water. A life-threatening event causes the three friends to face and overcome each of their fears.

HomeCaveHome in the Cave – Baby Bat loves his cave home and never wants to leave it. While practicing flapping his wings one night, he falls, and Pluribus Packrat rescues him. They then explore the deepest, darkest corners of the cave where they meet amazing animals—animals that don’t need eyes to see or colors to hide from enemies. Baby Bat learns how important bats are to the cave habitat and how other cave-living critters rely on them for their food. Will Baby Bat finally venture out of the cave to help the other animals?

Henry Impatient Heron_COVER 2Henry the Impatient Heron – Henry the Heron couldn’t stand still! He was always moving, and it drove everyone crazy! His brother and sister yelled at him for stepping on their heads, and Mom and Dad could barely get food into his little baby mouth. But herons have to stand still to catch their food, so how would Henry ever be able to eat on his own? In Henry, the Impatient Heron, Donna Love takes readers along with Henry as he learns a valuable lesson from the King of Camouflage! Hilarious and lighthearted illustrations by Christina Wald complement the important lesson in the text. It is a meaningful lesson for both herons and kids alike, which teaches the importance of just being still!

Moon_187How the Moon Regained Her Shape – This fascinating story influenced by Native American folktales explains why the moon changes shape and helps children deal with bullies. After the sun insults and bullies her, the moon feels so badly hurt that she shrinks and leaves the sky. The moon turns to a comet and her many friends on earth to comfort her. Her friends include rabbits and Native Americans. Then she regains her full shape, happiness, and self-esteem. The moon also returns to her orbit.

And for the younger siblings just beginning counting and ABC’s

SafariCOVER [Converted]ABC Safari - Let’s search for adventure above in the sky. We’ll scout through the mountains and hills, and then try exploring the forests, the meadows and plains, across the dry desert and through jungle rains. We’ll trek through a swamp, a puddle, a pond, in lakes and the river, the ocean beyond. But, what are we looking for? Who will we see? Find animals on this Safari with me! Once you’ve discovered all the animals, turn to the “For Creative Minds” educational section for sorting cards and animal fun facts.

Count Down to Fall_COVER_3Count Down to Fall - The summer days get a little colder; the leaves turn from green to orange and red. Fall must be on the way, and while you unpack sweaters and scarves, the animals frolic outside in the crisp autumn air beneath a wide blue sky. In Fran Hawk’s Count Down to Fall, watch the falling leaves tumble all around. The vibrant and detailed illustrations of Sherry Neidigh capture the majesty of the maple, the oak, the linden, and more. Critters play in the time of changing seasons, and remind us that the changes of the earth affect us all-animals and humans alike!

We hope that you have a wonderful first day of school!


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4. SOME THOUGHTS ON FEAR

Like a tsunami, fear can wash away our life… unless we rise up I believe fear can come in many forms… and sometimes it comes in the forms of “bad thoughts” or nightmares. We don’t always know we are afraid of something until it invades our thoughts. How many times have we wanted to do […]

6 Comments on SOME THOUGHTS ON FEAR, last added: 9/21/2013
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5. I Don’t Want an Honest Critique


Now available! Start Your Novel

Fear

No, don’t tell me what’s wrong with this novel. I don’t want to hear it. Minor problems? OK, I’ll fix those. But major structural, plot or character problems? Don’t tell me.

Cynthia Ozynick says, “Writing is essentially an act of courage.” When I get an honest critique, my courage fails me.

    I fear the revision needed: I won’t ever be able to “get it right.” Obviously, I thought that I had communicated my intentions well in the first draft, or I would have changed it before you read it. But you say that you don’t understand, or that I’m inconsistent, or that I’m unfocused. How could that be? I see it so clearly. And if my vision of my story is so skewed, then how will I ever get it right?
  • I fear that you’re right and I’m wrong. But how can I be sure? This is my story and it comes from my psychological leanings, my background, my research. How can you tell me what is right for my story? If the story doesn’t communicate what I want, then, yes, I need to revise. I repeat: Obviously, I thought it did communicate what I wanted, or I would have revised it before you saw it. Do you just have a different vision of the story because of your psychological leanings, your background? Are you trying to envision what I intended, or are you envisioning what you would have written? Where does your ego slam up against my ego? And where does your objective appraisal need to push my ego back into line with what it really wants to do anyway? Perspective is hard to achieve.
  • I fear that all my hard work, all the months spent thinking and rewriting, will be wasted.
    As a novelist, time haunts me. To write a novel isn’t the work of a week or a month. It takes many months, a year, a year and a half. More. It’s a long, long process. Your revision notes mean that the time is extended, and that without any guarantee of being finished even then. Meanwhile, that means that I’m a year older, that it’s a year in which I couldn’t write anything new (even if I could find the courage to begin again).
  • I fear your honesty; I need your approval (or someone’s approval; if not yours, then whose?). Will it crush me emotionally if you don’t “like” my story? I gloss over the approval part of critiques and agonize over the “needs work” assessment. Is there a way for you to only show approval, yet open my eyes, so that I recognize what needs work? I’d rather recognize it for myself than have it pointed out.
  • I fear that my standards are too lax. I want to be finished, I want to have this story out there. I want to have written, but in the throes of writing, I want the end of the process long before the story is really finished. Submission comes too early and then I get rejections. Then, it’s harder than ever to revise. But waiting is excruciating. Typical advice: Put the manuscript in a drawer for three months and then pull it out and read it with a fresh eye. What? Waste three more months? Never. It’s done and ready to send out. (Ok, maybe it isn’t, but I can’t stand looking at it one more time and in three months, my editor could read it and buy it. OK, maybe they won’t buy it until I revise, but three months? Isn’t there any other way?)
  • Critiques, especially honest and on-target critiques, are fearful things. I know that I need them; but they are painful, emotionally draining, and confidence shaking.

    But I need them. OK, can you give me a minute? Let me find my mask of courage. There. I have it on. Now bring on your best critique!

    More reading:

    Other thoughts on critique of an artist and humility.
    Art and Fear: One of my favorite books on the psychology of making art. It deals with fears about our unworthiness, fears of critiques, fears of displaying our art and much more.

    Top 10 Ways to Stop the Sting of Critiques

    Here are my slightly tongue-in-cheek Top 10 Ways to take the Sting out of Critiques!

    Take the Sting Out of Critques!

    Take the Sting Out of Critques!


    1. Avoidance: Have someone else read the critique for you and only highlight the good comments. Read only the highlighted comments.
    2. Revenge: Give the creep back an ever harsher critique than you just got.
    3. Denial: Write out the reasons why the critiquer is totally off base. Ignore all suggestions.
    4. Excitement: Fake excitement about the critique and tell everyone you know exactly what’s wrong with the story and how you plan to fix it.
    5. Suspicion: Read each comment with the suspicion that the critiquer is trying to get your manuscript out of the running, so their own manuscript will do well. Therefore, you can safely ignore any comments you want to.
    6. Surprise: Allow each comment to be a revelation at how far off base this critiquer is.
    7. Pride: Take pride in your ability to “take it” from the tough ones.
    8. Loneliness: Understand that you and you alone are in the situation of receiving harsh critiques; such things have never been written about any manuscript and will never be written again.
    9. Forgiveness: Realize that the critiquer has sinned by so harshly criticizing your story and at some point they will have to come and ask for forgiveness; be ready to give it gracefully.
    10. Hope: Find hope in the good things the critiquer noticed, and Hope in the process of revision.

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    6. Understanding Character Wounds: A List Of Common Themes

    Characters are the heart of a novel, and within that heart is the Hero’s Inner Journey. The protagonist’s path is much like yours or mine–one that will (hopefully) bring him closer to lifelong happiness and fulfillment.

    In real life, people strive to become something more, to be something better. But the wounds of the past never quite leave us. Old hurts, betrayals, and injustices stay in our memory. Worry that a bad experience could happen again causes us to hesitate, and sometimes readjust what we want, and what we’re willing to risk. In other words, fear gets in the way.

    Wounds Change Everything

    woundJust like you or I, a hero has wounds, a trunk full of scars he lugs with him wherever he goes. And like us, his determination to not repeat a painful emotional experience carries the high cost of lessening his feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment.

    Because wounds influence a protagonist’s behavior so deeply (to the point he will do almost anything to avoid feeling such pain again), it’s important to have a good grasp on what emotional trauma from his past is now shaping his present. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

     photo credit: allspice1 via photopin cc

    Every Wound Contains a Lie

    Emotional wounds are more than just painful memories. Inside each wound is a seed of doubt. Is this somehow my fault? Am I to blame? This doubt blossoms, eroding one’s self-worth.

    When something bad happens, it’s human nature to try and rationalize it, make sense of it. We often blame ourselves, believing if we had chosen differently, done something else, there would be a better outcome. Most times there’s no logic to attributing a personal failure to what happened (especially when events were out of our control), but we do it anyway. Because of this internalization, a lie is born. We believe we are somehow deserving of this pain, or we become disillusioned in some way.

    Let’s say a character discovers her husband plans to leave her for another woman (wound). Under all the anger and rage and heartache she would look within, to what she did wrong. The lie she might believe could be: He cheated because I am not worth loving. This lie burrows deep into her self-esteem and self-worth. Moving forward, she may avoid relationships because she believes this lie of being unworthy. Or, she may choose men who are likely to be unfaithful, because deep down she thinks these men are the only ones she deserves.

    Wounds Cause Flaws To Form

    1NTWhen a character is wounded, he straps on emotional armor to keep his feelings safe. Flaws develop, working under the ‘guise’ of protecting him from being hurt. For example, a female character who was mugged and sexually assaulted (wound) might develop flaws like mistrust, paranoia, and evasiveness to protect herself from being targeted again.

    On the outside, these flaws “appear” to help her be safe, but they limit her instead, preventing her from building healthy relationships, hampering her spontaneity and placing a filter of distrust on all she sees. This in turn steals her her freedom, and puts a choke hold on self-growth and true happiness. (For more on flaws & their role in Character Arc, please reference The Negative Trait Thesaurus.)

    Dig Into The Character’s Backstory

    A character’s past will be a minefield of negative experiences, but at some point, there should be an event you as the author can define as “the wound.” Small, painful events change a person bit by bit, but to focus all this hurt and pain into a single backstory moment can really help you better understand who and what damaged your character, and why, as a result, they question their self-worth. This also guides you to the false belief they must see for the lie it is in order to become healthy and whole, strengthening them so they can achieve their goal.

    To help you pinpoint what your character’s wound might be, here are some common “themes” that could be the root of this psychological damage.

    7 Common Wound Themes:

    A Physical Wound. A defect, scar or condition causes real life complication, doubt, low self-esteem and can make it difficult to feel like one fits in. Handicaps are real and can alter a character’s path, limiting them and hurting their confidence.

    An Injustice. Being a victim of crime, witnessing a traumatic social injustice or living in a time period or reality that is unbalanced or full of corruption will all leave a mark.

    Failure or Mistakes. People are naturally hard on themselves when things don’t happen as expected.  The guilt associated with a failure or mistake (even if it is only a perceived failure) can paralyse a person, and send them on an alternative life path.

    Misplaced Trust/Betrayal. Trusting or relying on someone and feeling let down in some way can cause deep hurt. This could be a parent/child dynamic, a friendship that goes sideways or even a deep betrayal of a loved one (infidelity, etc.)

    Isolation. If the character felt left out or isolated in the past, it has lasting effects. Isolation might be relationship-related (a mother who favored a sibling over the protagonist), power imbalance (educational or social “status” barriers) or even simple economics (living in poverty, etc.) that restricted opportunity, achievement and fulfillment.

    Neglect/Abandonment/Rejection. Some relationships are cardinal when it comes to care giving: a parent and child. Siblings. Partners in a marriage. And to a lesser degree, a citizen and his government, parishioner and his minister, or a doctor and his patient. When the person in the care giving role neglects or rejects the other party, this can cause deep feelings of abandonment to form.

    Disillusionment. Believing one thing to be true and then discovering it is a lie can shake a character to their core. This might be a world views or political beliefs (discovering leaders that one has supported have been negligent or corrupt), a revelation in religious or spiritual beliefs, or uncovering immoral behavior. It could also be something closer and more intimate like a role model who was not who they pretended to be, or personal (like finding out one is adopted, for example.)

    Do you know your character’s wound, and if so, does it fall under one of these  themes?

    PSSST! At 5:00PM Eastern you can find me at IndieRecon discussing 6 Smart Ways Authors Can Collaborate When Marketing.

    The post Understanding Character Wounds: A List Of Common Themes appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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    7. Fearing the Unknown

    "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." 

    H.P. Lovecraft, right? Fear sounds like a great topic for a horror writer's blog, especially during October. Just don't tell anyone I haven't finished a story since March, okay? Besides, I'm a human being before I'm a horror writer. And this human being has faced a lot of fear in his life. Note the past tense: faced.

    Last night, someone very dear to me asked if I was "scared" of the future. I took a minute to feel the the question, weigh it a little, and try to understand my feelings before I responded.

    No. Not scared. I don't fear the future anymore. While I wrestle a bit with the unknown, it's a much healthier relationship than fear. Fear paralyzes and leads to poor judgement. Fear kills dreams and clogs the pathways to achieving goals. Maybe a better word than fear is anticipation, that heightened sense of reality when expecting something important, something big. Something challenging but wholly good. 

    And the future is good. Life is good, even when it is a struggle. Even when awful tragedy happens, I still have the choice to focus on hope and goodness and the gifts I've been given. Yes, it may be impossible to feel hope and goodness in the midst of the tragic event. I know--I've been there. But the lesson looks different seven months later. None of us make it through life without scars, but scars become stories, and stories remind us of the preciousness of each day. Besides--when "bad things" happen, they will do so whether I allow fear to eat away my life or not. An abundance of fear makes no one safer. That is the lie that fear whispers to us. 

    Wasted energy, if you ask me. I'd rather save my energy for the road ahead.

    So how do I feel about the future? Hopeful. Filled with a healthy level of anticipation. Ready to roll up my sleeves and go to work. It's good.

    3 Comments on Fearing the Unknown, last added: 10/25/2012
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    8. Deep Blu-C

    Today's letter is "C".
    Ukiyo-e & ArtStudio on iPad. Click to enlarge.

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    9. Hammer Stammer



    Two more pages from the forthcoming Memoir.
    paper53 on iPad. Click to enlarge.

    1 Comments on Hammer Stammer, last added: 2/12/2013
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    10. A Wing and a Prayer

    Another in the Four Letter Words series.
    Ukiyo-e app on iPad. Click to enlarge.

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    11. Wednesday Writing Workout - MoNsTrOuS Fears!

    .
    Howdy, Campers!

    Be sure to check out the Second Annual March Madness Poetry Tournament (details below!)...and welcome to today's


    As I mentioned in last week's post, my teacher Barbara Bottner asks writing students to write about our greatest fears as if they were monsters.

    So, I asked myself...if my fear of writing mediocre poems and stories were a monster, what would it be like?

    It's a blob. A beige blob.  With blood-shot eyes. It's as big as a refrigerator and hunches on the rug blocking the window. It smells. Like a wet giraffe. It has tuna stuck between its yellowing teeth and a runny nose, and it's dropping Snickers wrappers on my clean carpet. And it JUST KNOCKED OVER MY EDGAR ALLEN POE DOLL which was carefully balanced on top of my stuffed dog!

    And since Monkey* and I are both afraid of writing something stupid, I'm bringing back a (revised) poem from a post about second-rate writing:



    GO AWAY, BIG BEIGE MONSTER OF SECOND-RATE WRITING
    by April Halprin Wayland

    You smell of ink and blood and death
    and plastics that are burning.

    My hands both shake, my headache’s back
    and now my stomach’s churning.

    I will not let you in today.
    GO HOME!

    (Hooray! I’m learning!)

    poem © 2013 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.
     

    Now it's your turn.

    1) What are you afraid of?  Make a list of at least five things that scare you. Are you afraid of snakes? Of flying? If you’re a writer (of COURSE you're a writer!), are you afraid of rejection?

    2) Circle the one that scares you the most…or the one that you can’t wait to write about.

    3) Make this fear into a creature.  Try to include as many of the five senses as possible--how does it sound?  How does it smell?  Maybe your fear of heights is a moldy grey vulture who hides in caves, makes snarky noises, and wears high tops…or maybe your fear of the dark is a neon green monster with sticky skin and garlicky breath that whispers evil things in your ear.

    4) Write a story or a poem about this creature. You might want to speak to it or yell at it. Dialogue is fun to read aloud. Wouldn’t it be neat to YELL at your fear?  Or maybe YOU'RE the creature!

    5) Share your writing with someone you want to scare.

    ha ha

    *In case you haven't met yet, this is Monkey, who will occasionally be writing blog posts for me:

    Oh!  I did mention Ed DeCaria's marvelous Second Annual March Madness Poetry Tournament, didn't I?
    Ed revealed the 64 "authletes" on Academy Awards night and I'm among them--yay!  As Mary Lee says, "I'm looking forward to the fun (and the stress)!"

    9 Comments on Wednesday Writing Workout - MoNsTrOuS Fears!, last added: 3/2/2013
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    12. The Inner Huhne

    I drew this whilst listening to the news about Chris Huhne on the radio.
    ZenBrush and ArtStudio on iPad. Click to enlarge.

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    13. The Future is Scary

    FRHSLast weekend was my alma mater’s high school graduation. A thrilling, momentous (and gorgeous) day! It made me think back to my own graduation and the fact that what scared me at 18 scares me still: moving forward into the unknown. In fact, if I could go back and give myself advice it would probably be this: The future is scary. It never stops being scary. Get used to it. And don’t be scared.

    Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to leave high school, to venture out of state to college, to make new friends and take classes towards two majors I was passionate about (screenwriting! creative writing! so much writing!). But I was also terrified. My high school was a cocoon of all that was familiar and comfortable and good. Not that every day was bliss. There were fights and tears and stress. But what I realized on graduation night was that I wasn’t ready to leave. I’m never ready to leave: not school, not a party, not vacation. I’m not ready to leave for work in the morning, and I’m not ready to leave work in the afternoon. And I’m NEVER ready to go to bed at night, no matter how tired I feel.

    I spent much of the summer before college doing what I loved: reading–and finally there was no required reading. Free to read what I wanted, I think I read nothing but Orson Scott Card. I’m not going to get political here because this was during an innocent time before the internet gobbled me whole, so these books were merely the words on the page and what I brought to them.

    I remember it so clearly. I was sitting on the deck at my parents’ house, feeling sorry for myself because in a few months time I would be far away from the beautiful rolling hills, when I came to one specific passage.

    Alvin grimaced at him.  ‘Taleswapper, I’m not ready to leave home yet.’
    ‘Maybe folks have to leave home before they’re ready, or they never get ready at all.”

    I stopped and read it again. Because although I had not named it out loud, that was me. I was Alvin. And Taleswapper’s words were exactly what I needed to hear: it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to not feel ready. Because if you wait to feel ready, then you’ll be waiting forever. Sometimes you have to jump out of the plane and trust that your parachute will open.*

    *(Please note, I have never been sky diving, but I know someone who has, so that’s almost the same thing, right?)

    It’s funny to think back to that day, because it it planted a seed which has motivated me many times since. Not always, of course. Sometimes I still chicken out. But sometimes when anxiety refuses to release its stranglehold: a new relationship, a new job, a new adventure–I find myself thinking back to those wise words, and I realize that I will be okay, because I’m always okay.

    And if Orson Scott Card is not your bent, a good friend of mine recently gave me a new mantra, one that she repeats to her daughter whenever she is scared worried. “You are BRAVE. You are STRONG. You are WONDERFUL. And YOU will be fine.” What better words could you ever need?

    There are so many things I could have missed out on, if I gave into fear:

    Duffy College Performing Hole-in-the-Rock, Bay of Islands, New Zealand Whangarei, New Zealand Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Kata Tjuta, Northern Territory, Australia Katherine's Gorge, Australia Jelly Fish, Sydney Aquarium Manta Ray, Sydney Aquarium Heights Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Loch Ness, Scotland Rally to Restore Sanity, Washington, DC

    So do you embrace the future at full tilt? Or are you worry-wart* like me?

    *(Officially diagnosed by my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Burton. Thanks for that.)

    What gets you through the scary times?


    Tagged: Being Brave, Fear, Future, Graduation, Growing Up, Leaving Home, Orson Scott Card, Reading, Teens, writing

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    14. Looking For Reasons Not To Quit

    Hi there. Long time no see. It’s me, not you. I’ve been slack.

    But tonight I’m putting a hold on the smoothies I promised to make for D and myself, in order to write this post. So listen up. Because it’s important. And because smoothies are on the line!

    Lately I’ve been feeling down in the dumps, and it’s not just because of my recent terrible haircut. It’s also because of a project I’ve been working on, which is not going quite where I want it to. It’s gotten so that the last few days I’ve been trying to think of a reason not to quit. Because somehow I got to this point where quitting doesn’t even feel like quitting. It just feels like not continuing, which doesn’t really sound as bad. Does that make sense? It does to me.

    But I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this project. You always hear stories where people were so close to quitting when they finally met with success, so I thought, maybe that’s where I am. Maybe I should hang in there a bit longer. But what’s the point? I need a reason. A really rock-solid reason not to quit–something that will actually force me to keep going. Because this is kind of new for me. I don’t quit. Never. Not really. I’m not even bragging because honestly, sometimes it’s a curse. If I get it in my head to do something, then I JUST. WON’T. LET. IT. GO. So ordinarily what keeps me from giving up is that I can’t admit defeat. But this time that isn’t enough.

    Because I kind of want to quit. I’ve turned it into something other than defeat. I’ve turned it into the realistic, responsible thing to do. It would save me a lot of grief (read: feeling depressed at my lack of success and guilty for doing anything besides working on my project). It would be easier.

    So, while I was washing dishes tonight, the answer kind of came to me in the form of this blog post. (It seems like I always get half-decent ideas while I’m washing dishes. You might think that’s a good enough reason to wash dishes more often, but I’m still not sold.) Anyway, I was trying to think of one good reason not to quit and I realized it was actually pretty simple: If I quit, then I’ll definitely be in the exact same place that I am right now. Forever. My project can’t possibly succeed. And the disappoint that I feel right now will never go away–why would it? But if I don’t quit–if I keep on trying–then there remain two possibilities ahead of me: One is that I might never succeed. I might remain exactly where I am right now. Forever. With one exception: at least I would know I didn’t give up. But the other possibility is that I will eventually succeed. Until I eliminate that possibility, it’s still out there. It could still happen.

    If I quit, then all I do is eliminate hope. I control the future by closing off all possibilities except the one I don’t want.

    And hope is enough to keep me going. I wouldn’t condemn anyone to disappointment–I want all your dreams to come true. So why would I do any less for myself?

    One of my college professors paraphrased Thomas Edison, and I’ll never forget it. At the time, I thought he made it up. I thought he was a genius. So I will always think of R.L. before poor T.E. when I hear the words, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

    I guess what I’m saying is, don’t give up. I won’t if you don’t.

    What keeps you going on your low days?


    Tagged: Being Brave, Failure, Fear, Future, Hope, Persistence, Thomas Edison

    0 Comments on Looking For Reasons Not To Quit as of 7/8/2013 11:04:00 PM
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    15. Whether Right or Wrong—Write

     

    Tension abducts the shoulders and arms. Fingers twitch ever so slightly as they rest on the keyboard. Eyes see only a blank desert before them, boding ill for any who traverse that lonely stretch of white.

    Why is it that beginning a piece of writing looms, as guillotine over neck, waiting for the blade to drop? How can a simple exercise of putting words to paper or computer exact such a toll? Writers have debated the issue for years, probably centuries, and definitive answers remain elusive.

    Having suffered from this debility a time or two—okay, read that as every day—I can only suggest my personal reasons for suffering and the relief measures I take to combat those reasons.

    10 Reasons for Avoiding the Keyboard

    1. No one is interested in anything I have to say.
    2. What I have to say has no value.
    3. What’s the point of putting myself out there?
    4. I don’t have the talent that it takes to make it as a writer.
    5. This dream is a waste of time I could be using elsewhere.
    6. I’ll never gain approval from anyone for writing, so why do it?
    7. Getting something published takes too much time.
    8. I have too many other things to do with my time than sit here pretending to be a writer.
    9. So I have a story idea. It will never sell.
    10.  Only my friends ever read my stuff. I’m going out and enjoy the       sunshine instead of being cooped up in here writing drivel.

    Did any of these sound familiar? I’d bet that you’ve experienced at least five of these in the past three months.

    Doubt is a normal human response to anything that exposes us to criticism. After all, no one likes being criticized for anything. Avoidance is the common remedy for dealing with criticism. If a venture is never begun, never made available for others to see, no one has an opportunity to criticize you for anything.

    Taking Charge of Self-Doubt and Fear

    Children are taught both self-doubt and fear of disapproval when they’re seldom praised for their efforts. As an adult those who’ve lived without much praise for good performance, good effort, etc. constantly seek out the missing approval. That, too, is a normal human motivation.

    This constant seeking of approval can lead down a road to success or continued failure. The signpost for the direction taken, I think, is the one that reads “YOU’RE HERE—FEAR”

    If fear is allowed to control you’re actions, it controls your life and your freedom. Whether you become agoraphobic or not doesn’t matter. You’re still hiding inside a locked room—the one you’ve made for yourself and your aspirations.

    I created a motto for myself today and shared it with another writer this morning. It is: “If you never begin, you never arrive.”

    Will the world end if your story isn’t equal to one belonging to Dickens, Heinlein, King, or Hemingway? If your poem isn’t of the same caliber as 8 Comments on Whether Right or Wrong—Write, last added: 3/3/2012

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    16. Whether Right or Wrong—Write

    Tension abducts the shoulders and arms. Fingers twitch ever so slightly as they rest on the keyboard. Eyes see only a blank desert before them, boding ill for any who traverse that lonely stretch of white.

    Why is it that beginning a piece of writing looms, as guillotine over neck, waiting for the blade to drop? How can a simple exercise of putting words to paper or computer exact such a toll? Writers have debated the issue for years, probably centuries, and definitive answers remain elusive.

    Having suffered from this debility a time or two—okay, read that as every day—I can only suggest my personal reasons for suffering and the relief measures I take to combat those reasons.

    10 Reasons for Avoiding the Keyboard

    1. No one is interested in anything I have to say.
    2. What I have to say has no value.
    3. What’s the point of putting myself out there?
    4. I don’t have the talent that it takes to make it as a writer.
    5. This dream is a waste of time I could be using elsewhere.
    6. I’ll never gain approval from anyone for writing, so why do it?
    7. Getting something published takes too much time.
    8. I have too many other things to do with my time than sit here pretending to be a writer.
    9. So I have a story idea. It will never sell.
    10.  Only my friends ever read my stuff. I’m going out and enjoy the sunshine instead of being cooped up in here writing drivel.

    Did any of these sound familiar? I’d bet that you’ve experienced at least five of these in the past three months.

    Doubt is a normal human response to anything that exposes us to criticism. After all, no one likes being criticized for anything. Avoidance is the common remedy for dealing with criticism. If a venture is never begun, never made available for others to see, no one has an opportunity to criticize you for anything.

    Taking Charge of Self-Doubt and Fear

    Children are taught both self-doubt and fear of disapproval when they’re seldom praised for their efforts. Adults who’ve lived without much praise for good performance, good effort, etc. constantly seek out the missing approval. That, too, is a normal human motivation.

    This constant seeking of approval can lead down a road to success or continued failure. The signpost for the direction taken, I think, is the one that reads “YOU’RE HERE—FEAR”

    If fear is allowed to control you’re actions, it controls your life and your freedom. Whether you become agoraphobic or not doesn’t matter. You’re still hiding inside a locked room—the one you’ve made for yourself and your aspirations.

    I created a motto for myself today and shared it with another writer this morning. It is: “If you never begin, you never arrive.”

    Will the world end if your story isn’t equal to one belonging to Dickens, Heinlein, King, or Hemingway? If your poem isn’t of the same caliber as Tennyson, Whitman, Brow

    0 Comments on Whether Right or Wrong—Write as of 1/1/1900
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    17. New Every Morning

    My “Peepsqueak” book is all about working hard to achieve goals no matter what anyone says. There are many “Poo poo-ers” in the world. It can be quite an effort at times to move toward your dreams when there are those who stand in the way with puzzled looks on their faces or telling you how you should do some OTHER dream.

    Sometimes you don’t even KNOW what you want to do.  Never fear!

    There is a dream in all of us! There is something born into us that needs doing.  Many people never find that dream because it is too hard, to scary, or the Poo Poo-ers got the best of them.

    “Peepsqueak” is also about brand new beginnings. He was born into the world on a brand new day. Each of us have that new beginning every morning when our feet hit the floor.  All kinds of possibilities are set before us!

    This morning I met an older woman named Marion.  I was at my local coffee shop when she came up to me with a worried look on her face. She told me she missed her bus!  She had no idea what to do because her next bus did not leave town for 7 hours!   I suggested we walk over to the senior center across the park and ask around about other possibilities for travel.  During that time we got to know each other a bit. She lived in Germany for a while and traveled all over Europe with her husband. She had grandchildren and two kids.  As we talked more we realized she only missed the early bus and she could catch the second bus in an hour. (I also found out how cheap it was to take the bus! I might have to try riding the bus to see my sister sometime. It sounds like a new adventure!)

    So Marion was my new twist in the day.  What did YOU do new today?  If you meet up with a Poo Poo-er, just smile, and KEEP MOVING!


    Filed under: Peepsqueak!, Surprises

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    18. Trailer Tuesday: Fear and Spectral


    Fear: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant
    Release Date: April 3, 2012
    Click here to read our review or write your own!





    Spectral by Shannon Duffy
    Release Date: April 10, 2012
    Have you read it? Click here to write your review of this book.



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    19. Let’s Talk Fears by guest author Jim Bronyaur

    Let’s talk fears.

    Seriously.  Fears.  Phobias.

    I’ve always enjoyed fears, but it wasn’t until January of this year did I realize just how cool they could be.  Those who know me know that I am always writing, always picking up new projects, working on old projects, and doing anything that I can to expand myself and my company.  I was watching one of my favorite shows on SyFy and they had an episode where they went to Linda Vista hospital and on the walls were fears written.  Each person had to pick a fear without knowing what it was until they picked it.  Something about seeing that wall just made my eyes go wide.  I gave my wife ‘the look’ – and no, it wasn’t the same look that yielded us two, zombie loving boys – but rather the look that meant a new idea had been born.

    I realize that to take on a fears based project alone would be hard, considering my schedule, but I couldn’t let it go.  I mean, how cool would it be to have a horror series based on fears?  More so, I wanted to take those fears and twist them, turn them, make them my own.  But I needed help.  It didn’t take me long to come up with the perfect writer to team up with (and no, it’s not because we talk every day…).  If you don’t know who Rebecca Besser is, learn.  Skip your $10 Starbucks tomorrow morning and grab a copy of her book, Undead Drive-Thru.

    I talked to Becca about the project and as fate would have it, she fell in love with it too.  She was game… and better yet, we already had a story going.  We collaborated little by little last year, so we took an old project and revamped it.  We had this story about a glass factory that explodes, killing all the workers.  There’s something in the water that makes the glass that brings the dead back.  We quickly realized that we had a book for ‘crystallophobia’ which is the fear of glass.  This is the way we are designing the fears series… the fear is in the book, somehow.

    Our next book is the fear of technology and features a man who grew up Amish and is trying to adjust to a different life after getting engaged.  His fiancée gives him a cell phone and that’s where his troubles begin… because the technology seems to be coming to life, and has a mind of its own…

    It’s been fun writing with Becca and the more we talk about the fears, the more ideas we come up with.  So far our list has some of the common things like fear of heights all the way to the strange such as fear of beautiful women… all the way to the extreme like fear of trees.

    Right now, Crystallophobia is for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with some great reviews coming in.  We’ve even had the honor of Bram Stroker winning author, Joe McKinney writing a review for the book, saying “Crystallophobia is a tightly written anatomy of a terrifying disaster.  Jim Bronyaur and Rebecca Besser have really twisted the thumbscrews down on the little town of Streinersburg, Ohio, and their zombies, emerging as they do from the smoke and wreckage of an earth-shaking explosion, glass shards protruding from their mangled faces, are as frightening as any creature I’ve seen since Clive Barker’s Pinhead.  You’ve got to read this.  Your nightmares will never be the same.”

    The second book in the Series of Fears is due out in May 2012.

    From the minds of Jim Bronyaur and Rebecca Besser comes a new series that explores some of our darkest – and strangest fears.

    Book #1 – Crystallophobia (fear of glass)

    In the small town of Streinersburg, Ohio a normal Tuesday morning begins, but it doesn’t stay that way. As the workers of Wa

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    20. The Fish Who Swam Too Far by Danielle Kirrane

     4 stars Everything frightened Harry.  A true scaredy-cat he was . . .Until one day an unexpected journey led Harry deep into the ocean where being scared was no longer an option for him.  He had to be brave, very brave.  Risking his own life to save another fish in desperate need of help, his [...]

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    21. Oli’s Uncommon Cents by Deborah Allen

    5 STARS From the back cover: Through the life and death of her grandfather, 12-year-old Oli receives a pouch that holds the lives of abandoned,  but unique coins, coins adopted by her grandfather—and now hers.  Bearing their mint inscription, In God We Trust, Oli’s coins entrust their lives with hers as she searches for the [...]

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    22. On Salisbury Plain

    I dreamed that I was stuck on Salisbury Plain.
    Gouache and pencil 25cm x 43cm. Click to enlarge.

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    23. Love and Death

    Woody Allen's skull?
    Pen and ink with watercolour 11cm x 14cm. Click to enlarge.

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    24. Begoña's Dream

    The dream of Begoña, a child from Almussafes in Spain. The dreams were collected by Roger Omar. Gouache A3 size. Click to enlarge.

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    25. Lost and Found by Bill Harley

    5 Stars
    Lost and Found
    Bill Harley
    Peachtree Publishers
    No. Pgs: 32    Ages: 4 - 8
    .............

    Peachtree Website: When Justin loses the special hat his grandmother made for him, he looks everywhere he can think of to find it. Everywhere, that is, except the lost and found. Mr. Rumkowsky, the old school custodian, is the keeper of all the lost and found items, and everyone is afraid of him, including Justin.

    With his grandmother coming to visit soon, his mom upset, and the hat nowhere in sight, Justin finally musters the courage to enter Mr. Rumkowsky’s domain. There he discovers a whole world of treasures – lost items Justin’s friends (and generations of children before them) have been too afraid to claim. Things keep getting weirder and weirder, until way down at the bottom of Rumkowsky’s giant box Justin unearths something completely unexpected…

    ∞∞∞∞♦♦∞∞∞∞

    Justin has lost his hat, the special hat, the one grandma made him, with the red ball on top that fell off. Now, grandma is coming for a visit and mom is upset that Justin has lost his hat. But Justin has asked all his friends and no one has seen his hat.

    “Did you ask Mr. Rumkowsky?”

    None of the kids wanted to ask Mr. Rumkowsky if he found anything they had lost. They were each too afraid of Mr. Rumkowsky, who was the old custodian located at the end of the scary hallway, behind the cafeteria. Justin continued to look every place imaginable and a couple more after those. Finally, Justin knew what he had to do. His grandma was coming for a visit and he needs his hat.

    Mr. Rumkowsky has been with the school forever and he grumbles and frowns. This makes him look scary and none of the kids wants to find out if they are wrong, because they believe they are right. Justin is at the end of his rope and must now go to the lost and found, which means going to see Mr. Rumkowsky.

    I enjoyed Lost and Found. The basement corridor that went past the custodian’s office was terrifying in elementary school, as was the dreaded principal’s office. The authority these imposing adults had over “us” kids was actually terrifying. Like Justin and his friends, we were afraid though we had no real information to make such a decision.  Unlike Justin, none of us was ever brave enough to go down that hall. Justin shows much courage not once, but twice and several times after that. Soon, Justin discovers treasures galore in the lost and found from generations of students, and he finds Mr. Rumkowsky is a good guy.

    The illustrations really set the mood for this story. The full spreads are wonderful representations. The custodian’s door has multiple locks that perpetuate this climate of fear. This generational mistrust is easily seen. A closer look at those locks on the custodian’s door shows they are on the inside of the door, as if Mr. Rumkowsky was afraid of what might enter, perhaps a student needing help finding a lost item.

    Boys and girls will love Lost and Found, especially if they have a similarly scary person at their school. Librarians and teachers will love this book for its perfect story time quality, the expressive text matched with the dynamic illustrations, that can be seen to several rows back.. Mr. Harley and Mr. Gustavson have produced a picture book that is unique yet captures a common childhood dilemma: the fear of authority.

    Interview with Author Bill Harley HERE!

    Lost and Found

    Author: Bill Harley   website   activity fun!   newsletter
    Illustrator: Adam Gustavson   website   facebook
    Publisher: Peachtree Publishers   website
    Release Date: October 1, 2012
    ISBN: 978-1-56145-628-4
    Number of Pages: 32
    Ages: 4 to 8
    Grades: Pre-K to 3
    .............
    

    Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: authority figures, children's books, courage, family, fear, fear of authorities, lost and found, middle grade books, relationships, respect

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