Tag Archives: fear

“It’s not brave if you’re not scared.”

 PJ here. I was watching an old movie the other day with a great premise, snappy dialogue, and excellent performances from Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow. The movie was BOUNCE, cir. 2000. It’s essentially a romance, but the premise is that a young mother of two becomes a widow when her husband dies in a plane crash after exchanging tickets with an ad exec. The playboy ad exec—played by Affleck—then goes off the deep end with guilt, and in an effort to redeem himself, sets out to help the widow, never imagining he’d fall in love with her.

The movie didn’t do well at the box office, and I won’t try to convince you there were Oscar worthy performances involved, but I appreciated the nuances. The evolution of the romance was sweet and entertaining, the individual character arcs were well executed, and the black moment was satisfying—if not predictable. But my favorite line of the movie was, “It’s not brave if you’re not scared.”

Again, this isn’t a new concept or an original line, per se, but it sums up so much of what we look for in our heroes and heroines. Heroism is in admitting your fear and acting anyway. Doing the right thing and not always the easy thing. Choosing to become the person you’re meant to be, rather than a shadow of your true potential. Growth is hard. Most days, it’s downright scary.

Sometimes fear paralyzes us, but it can also be a prime motivator. It pushes us to change, to step out of our comfort zone, or maybe even forces us to face a part of ourselves we’ve been hiding from for whatever reasons. The result–when we can manage to face our fears head on–is that we become stronger…better. It is in those moments of overcoming our fear through action that we become heroes. Examples of this can be seen in almost any romance novel or movie. We lovers of the genre live for that transformation and can’t wait to see our protagonist find the courage to change from scaredy-cat to hero by the end of the story.

Have you read any books lately or seen any movies that showcase this transformation particularly well?

Speaking of heroines facing their fears, if you haven’t read WANING MOON, book one in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael Trilogy, it’s now available for free download on all major e-retailers. Here is the blurb and links.

PJSharon_WaningMoon__200In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a polar shift threatens the survivors of a widespread pandemic with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Carmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey to the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities.

Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the tension between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put Lily in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.

Amazon     Amazon UK     BN     I-Book Store     Kobo      Smashwords 

Enjoy!

Peace and blessings,

PJ

Starting Something New…

Up until a few days ago I hadn’t written anything new for months. I was stuck in edit land, learning new things about myself as a writer. Getting edited by a professional editor is different that going through the revision process by yourself. When you’re revising everything is your call. Your decision. It’s only your book, but when you get a revision letter from an editor it’s different… It’s hard to explain. It’s like the book becomes bigger than itself, because getting that letter reminds you that you’re one step closer to releasing your baby into the world.

 

Every book has flaws, sometimes fatal flaws and as writers we know what the flaws are in our work, but having somebody else point them out is almost painful. Some writers love going through the editing process. They say it takes a mediocre book and makes it into a good one. But a lot of us don’t feel that way. A lot of us turn that book in and pray that our editor won’t see the flaws, that we’ll be able to skate by without having to fix things.

But that never happens. Those smarty pants editors always see the flaws and they send you a letter highlighting them. You read the letter and each point they make is like a little stab in the heart. Why? Because all the points are valid. They are never the little things that are easily fixed, like random spaces before punctuation. They are big things. Things that you knew were off when you sent the book in. They weren’t things you didn’t fix because you were lazy, they were things you didn’t fix because you didn’t know how.

So you read the letter and read the letter again and reread it twenty more times, hoping that magic will happen and you’ll suddenly know how to fix everything. But that rarely happens. It’s weeks of thinking and writing and rewriting and being stuck in your head. A lot of times it takes talking to another writer to make things clear, sometimes things will clear up by themselves.

And then one day you’re done. The book is as fixed as it’s going to get and you send it back to your editor. You feel free then, joyful almost. That weight has been lifted off your shoulders. But that feeling only lasts a few minutes because now that means that you have got to start something new.

Crap.

I was talking to fellow Scribe, Jennifer Fusco on Facebook the other night. We are both starting something new. And I had been feeling panicky/ anxious all week. I had a thousand thoughts running through my mind, a thousand scenes, a hundred lines of dialog that could go in my book but I had no direction. Where is this book going? What am I doing? What am I writing?

It may sound a little mean but I was glad to see that Jen was going through it too, because I realized that I was not alone in my pain. And if she felt that way and I felt that way, then there must be more of us out there who feel that panic when they are faced with something new.

And I think that’s why joining a writer’s group/ connecting with other writers is invaluable. If you get nothing else out of it, the feeling you are not alone in your pain is enough. 🙂

So… It’s your turn. How do you feel about starting something new? Is it all rainbow and sunshine? Or cloudy days and crying? How do you feel about the editing process? Can you relate? Any and all comments are welcome.

The Art of Letting Go

Happy Friday everyone! If you have a moment, visit me at my blog where I discuss the 16th president – There May Be Blood, Mr. President.

These past few weeks I’ve been on a scary journey – teaching my youngest son to drive.

Yes, my baby, the Eagle Scout has a learner’s permit. As a parent, there are many fears (some real – kidnapping, some improbable – alien kidnapping) that keep you awake at night. Your child getting their license is probably at the top of the list. Especially the realization that your child will be driving a car.

With you in it.

Now, I went through this process with my older son last summer. He was reluctant to learn and by nature is very cautious. And no big surprise, he drives that way (and I am not complaining!). I’m probably one the few parents who’s told their teen driver, “speed up, you’re driving too slow.”

Not so with younger son. During our first few lessons, in our vast local middle school parking lot, he eagerly mastered steering, braking, and acceleration. I’m not suggesting his attitude is cavalier. He does understand that he’s responsible for wielding the giant hulk of metal and to quote Stan Lee – with great power, comes great responsibility.

He’s not alone in his journey. I’ve had to learn how to let him go – to trust him and the universe (okay – honestly, I trust him more than the universe).

It sure hasn’t been easy. These are my babies!

I also noticed something else. About a week into younger son’s driving lessons I made the comment to him,”Funny, same time last year, when I was teaching Older Brother, I was writing The Undead Space Initiative.” I managed to complete that book in about 6 weeks. The bulk of the writing took place while I was giving driving lessons.

And coincidentally, the same week I started teaching younger son to drive, my word count on my latest WIP skyrocketed to almost 3,000 words a day.

What is up with that?

Upon reflection, I believe I was holding back. I wasn’t “letting go” on the page. Too much caution, too much thinking, dare I say – doubt. I had myself in a mental stranglehold. I had been writing, but it was slow, laborious, and at times, painful (you know, staring at a blank screen taking hours to get down a few hundred words).

For younger son, he’s made mistakes (none so far resulting in damage). I’m fine with that. In fact, I want him to mess up (safely, of course) because nothing teaches better lessons than mistakes!

So here is what I’ve taken away from this experience. If you find that you’re in a rut or just sluggish, give yourself permission to let go. Write crap if you have to, but don’t hold yourself back. Even if you end up chucking it all later, it’s better to try and fail, than never try at all.

And if next year rolls around and I find myself in a slump – who’s got a teenager in need of driving lessons?

What are your tips for “letting go”? And what have you been hanging onto for far too long?

Dad and younger son

Lasting Impression

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

Once upon a time, when I was six years old, my family took a vacation to Salem, MA. And I never forgot it. Even though I was only six, I retain vivid memories of Salem: Our view out the window of the Hawthorne Hotel, quizzing the tour guide at the House of Seven Gables, and seeing mustard seeds for the first time at the Lighthouse. I experienced an awakening on that trip – my love of old houses and history was born in Salem.

But, alas, the trip also had a dark side. The Salem Witch Museum made an extreme impression on me. Maybe it was the fact that we were ushered into a dark room and told to stand in an illuminated circle in the center. Or it could have been the first display: two red eyes gleaming in the dark accompanied by a loud voice declaring the devil exists. And possibly it was the tableau of Giles Cory being pressed to death.

Yeah, that made a lasting impression.

So what does this have to do with writing? Everything!

We need to make an impression on the reader. If they enjoy your story, then they will add you to their TBR list (to be read!). The best stories are the ones that make us feel something (fear, love, sadness, joy) and those are the books and authors we come back to time and again. Because the reader wants to go on a journey and they want to be immersed in a world. Forget this at your peril!

Several years ago, I returned to Salem with my husband and children. And you bet, I visited the Salem Witch Museum. Youngest son was the only one interested in going. Hubby and older son heard the word museum and decided to shop instead. To my surprise, the museum has not changed its presentation. We stood in the circle, we saw the same displays (I’m guessing they’ve been updated or at least refreshed) and I still felt awful for poor Giles Corey.

In a way, it was a relief that the museum hadn’t changed all that much. It meant that my recollections weren’t my imagination. I felt vindicated. Even better, youngest son, who was ten at the time, thought it was a cool place.

You’re turn to share – what stories or places have made a lasting impression on you? Which stories or writers do you go back to time and again? And why?