Emotions

I’ve just come back from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe with my son, Jay. Nope, he brought me on vacation. It was a wonderful gift, mother’s day, Christmas, birthday, all rolled together in a fantastic experience that we will both remember forever.

We toured Munich, Vienna, and Rome, mostly on foot. In addition to the fantastic cathedrals, castles, and ancient ruins, we saw a talented surfer in a city park in Munich and a performance of the Lippizan Stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

The Spanish Riding School was the main reason for the trip. This has long been on my bucket list and it did not disappoint. I have to admit that I have not been a rider for many years now, although it once was my whole world. When we were walking to the magnificent riding hall where the performance was to be held, my emotions were intense. I cried. A lot.

These moments are the things that make life worth living. You don’t have to go on a trip to Europe or even do the things on your bucket list to experience intense emotions. Read a book. That is what we do as authors. We try to touch those soft spots, the places that have been carefully hidden away as if they don’t matter anymore.

Photo by Jay Schlie

Validation

All of us need validation. That’s why a toddler looks back at his mother when he’s made a big accomplishment, a single step, a Cheerio successfully stuffed into a drooling mouth.

Somehow, writers seem to think that we need to be accepted by a publisher in order to be validated. Like, any rave reviews we get from friends, other writers, or family don’t count, it only counts if you actually get published, and that big advance.

Yup, we gotta eat. After all we spend way more hours at our craft than any other kind of employment requires. (Okay–maybe not truck driving). But our validation– yes, you are an author–need not come from a stuffy publishing house.

Are we any less of a success if we self-publish? Somehow, I seem to think I won’t be a real writer unless somebody else publishes my work. Somebody else has to say so, then I can say I’m an author. I’m a writer. I could put it on a business card, and it would be okay.

I am slogging through the self-publishing world to get my first two books published. That part is actually not that difficult, but I’ve spent countless hours learning everything I can about book marketing. That’s where the hard part is.

It’s not so much the social networking, ads, and e-mails, it’s the self promotion part. It is the Impostor Syndrome, the need for validation from somebody that counts. Somehow that gets ingrained from an early age.

Jennifer Poyntz is young, and a writer with budding talent. She has amazing insight into what matters most in life, but she is still searching for the validation that says she is a writer. I say she is a writer. I’m not a publisher, or editor, I’m a reader. And the reader is the one who matters.

The Impostor Syndrome

Reading my Facebook Ninja Writers group posts, I stumbled on a post that seems to resonate with a lot of indie writers. The Impostor Syndrome. You know, that annoying little feeling, kicking you in the back of your brain. The one that says, “Who the heck do you think you are? You aren’t supposed to be successful. Why do you think you could write a book?”

I think we’ve all experienced a moment when that voice gets the best of us. It can happen when ever we try something new or different. It’s the same feeling you had on the first day of middle school when you realized the outfit you spent half the summer picking out was-not-cool.

Even when, by chance, you do get it right, and someone says, “Nice,” or “I like your work,” how often do you find yourself brushing off the compliment. “Oh this old thing,” (when it’s your all-time favorite, best thing ever!) Are you afraid if somebody validates you, then OMG, you’ll have to try to live up to the compliment? 

Calm Down. Take a deep breath, say, “Thank You,” you deserve it.

Life is a learning process. The more we learn, the more we scrutinize our skills. When you were a toddler learning to walk, you didn’t beat yourself up because you didn’t know everything there was to know about walking. You were just thrilled about what you had just learned. It didn’t make you stop trying to learn, it made you want to do even more.

When Impostor Syndrome tries to walk around in your brain, throwing a fit, just ignore him. Carry on. Nope, you’re not Hemingway yet. Well, I hope not, we already had one of those. What we really need now is what you wrote, in the phase of development you’re in right now.

You are not an impostor. You are a writer in the process of learning. We all are in the process of learning, everyday.

The Inside Scoop

Okay, okay, I’ve changed the title to my second book, again. Sorry, I’m not even sure what the final title will be. I’ve been checking Amazon and KDP Rocket to find out if someone else already has my title. Apparently I’ve got all the same Ideas as everyone else…I’m just a step behind. Rats!

Here it is: (for now), the title will be Driving Traffick. I feel like I have to publish fast before somebody beats me to it. Maybe I need to keep this quiet…Shhhh!

As promised, here is the inside scoop. This is a little writing exercise that helped me to form my characters and actually helped to direct the story. I have the character write me a letter (or else I do an interview with them on paper). It gets me in the character’s head, lets me know where they are coming from, why they do what they do. It doesn’t all end up in the story, but it gives me the background.

This is not an original idea, I got it from one of the zillion books on writing I’ve read. I wish I could tell you which one, I’d love to give the author credit, but I have no idea…

This is about Arnold, the main bad guy in Driving Traffick. (by the way it is a first draft, warts and all.) Warning: the N word is in there…I hate it, but this is my bad guy speaking, and he would use it. It helps me to hate him even more.

Arnold

Life sucks. But I’m going to get everything I deserve, they owe it to me! Who is “they”? Everybody! I don’t care what it takes to get what I want, and I want it all.

I’ve been kicked around enough, now it’s my turn to do the kicking. I had to spend my childhood riding around with my Dad in a truck, being his nigger, while he stayed warm and dry in the truck laughing while I struggled hauling his tarps, and chaining his tires. I froze my fingers, and strained my back when I should have been playing football with my buddies from school. I would have been good, maybe even pro by now. But that won’t ever happen now that I’m all busted up thanks to trucking with my lazy-ass Dad.

It never should have happened. We shouldn’t have been on Loveland pass in a snowstorm, we shouldn’t have been running two sets of logs, and I shouldn’t have been driving at all. Not that anybody will ever know that I was driving. Hell, I was only 17 and I barley had my driver’s license much less a CDL.. I should have been in school like my pansy-ass brother, but my Dad wanted to make the big bucks hauling heavy equipment over the mountains.  He told ‘em he could get it there overnight even though it was a 25 hour haul.

Dad was tired when we started, he kept popping some kind of pills to stay awake, but then they quit working and he got sleepy, almost had us over the edge a couple of times. Finally made me drive, I’ve driven plenty before, but not with a big equipment load, not in the Rocky Mountains at night in a blizzard. I never got paid for nothing, he kept it all. I just did it ‘cause I knew he would kick the crap out of me if I didn’t. He got what he had coming, wrecked my life, and ended his.

I was screaming for him to wake up and help me, but he wouldn’t wake up, and the trailer started sliding and I couldn’t see where the road was. I just let it go, and we rolled over the cliff. Hell that big crane is probably still laying twisted up at the bottom of that gully.

I had a hell of a time dragging the old man’s body over so it looked like he was driving, I was pretty beat up and in a lot of pain. Funny thing, he never made a sound when we went over, I think he may have already been dead from all the stuff he was taking. Nobody will ever know.

I ain’t never gonna work like that again, I got a way to make a fortune off of trucking and I won’t have to do much of nothin’.  I got some ladies to earn me some big bucks, and I got a inside scoop on moving some “Hot loads,” really hot, radioactive waste. It’s not legal to move, but the company needs to get rid of it and they will pay me half a million bucks for each haul. I can’t drive with my bum leg, but that’s what I got my kid brother for. Besides, it’s better for him to get caught than me. What do I care? Just dump the stuff far away from where I am.

I’ll get my brother, Bruce to steal the equipment for the haul, and make him haul that shit. Hell I don’t want to get near it, it’ll kill ya. I’ll just stay with my ladies, bringing them to the truck stops, while I provide a much needed service for the drivers. I’ll be raking in the cash, while relaxing in my super decked out Kenworth.

It cost all of my inheritance and my brother’s too to get that truck set up just like I want it. Why should he get anything? I was the one that had to do all the work, while he stayed with Mom and went to school. He thinks he invested in the business, but he won’t ever see any of that money again. It’s mine, I deserve it all.

Supertruck, that’s what I call her. It’s a classic W9 Kenworth, the top of the line. I put in all the luxury I could. That thing could pull the state of California up over the rocky mountains, but it will never pull anything but the special trailer I had built. It’s a brothel on wheels, got a place for my ladies to hide out until it’s time to send them out to work in the parking lots. When their work is done, I lock ‘em back up in there until I need them again.

It didn’t even take me long to gather up the girls I needed for my business, they are everywhere. Just talk sweet to them little girls and buy them a couple of things and you own ‘em. I just take the trinkets away from them once I got them tattooed and working.  I got to protect my property ya know, so I put my mark on ‘em.

 

Who I am and Why I’m Here

I am Nancy Cupp, Author, Blogger, Learner. I got started on this mission to learn how to do a website because I wrote a book, and now I’d like to get it published.

I always liked the idea of stories, and writing, but never did much of it. After all who was going to read it? Well, my Mom and Dad would read it, but I kinda wanted to go further.

One day a friend casually mentioned that she was going to be doing NaNoWriMo in November. NaNo…What? NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that helps people to write a novel in 30 days. Yup, a whole novel in one month. How can that be?

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is set up as a website, (just google NaNoWriMo). Once you register, you commit to writing 1,667 words a day for the month of November. That’s a 50,000 word novel in one month.

It takes a bit of discipline, especially if you have a job, kids, a life. But you’d be amazed at how much you can get done once the creative juices get flowing. Other parts of you life benefit as well. You find yourself organizing, motivated to get things done, so you can spend a few precious moments getting that idea on paper.

So back to why I’m here, trying to learn to build a website. I wrote that novel, three of them, actually, since I first heard of NaNo. I blasted through that first one, used information from NaNo to find out how to publish as an e-book for free, put it out there, and…crickets chirping.

Okay, I got in a bit of a hurry. The first book, Crossroads, was a pretty good story, but really just a first draft. It lacked polish, needed editing, oh–and there was that issue of the missing chapter.

It turns out you have to do a bunch of work after that first adrenaline fueled, thirty day rush in November. And after all the editing, polishing, and publishing…you aren’t done yet. You have to market the thing.

Would I go to all the trouble again? Yes! I love it! I’m having so much fun learning how to write better, build webpages, attending seminars, that I’m re-inventing my life. Did I mention that I recently retired? I’m not sixty-five yet, and I could still be working (I like working) but I’m having too much fun.

That

Okay, That is a weird title for a blog post. Actually That is a word that is useless most of the time that it is used. I seem to sprinkle that in my writing any time that I think that it is needed. Oh my gosh! That is really bad.

I’ve been editing my own work for what seems like months now. After reading a bunch of books on editing, including Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style, and Self Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, I’ve learned a ton.

Just by using my search and find tool and looking at one thing at a time, I’ve cut five hundred useless words from my manuscript. The biggest culprit, that. Another big source for unnecessary words are adverbs. (Words that end with ly, sleepily, angrily, gaily.)

The adverb trap leads to some laughable, but tiresome, passages in writing, called Tom Swifties. You’ve seen them before; “He ran as fast as he could,” Tom said swiftly. Uggh. “You could just cut out the adverb altogether,” she laughed, happily. Just by searching for ly you can eliminate nearly all of them. According to Remmi Brown and Dave King, you can get rid of all of them. Yup, every one.

These aren’t the only problems that are in my writing, but by fixing just the simple things my writing sounds better, flows nicely, and almost looks professional. Wait a minute, nicely? Scratch that.

These aren’t the only problems in my writing, but by fixing the simple things, my writing is better.

Now, for my comma problem…

Sample

The re-write for Crossroads it done! After much deliberation on a new title, it will be released as Hold On. I know, I know, make up your mind already! The problem with a title is it has to fit the genre, it can’t be one that has already been done a dozen times, (As in Crossroads), it has to sell the book, oh yeah, it’s good if it fits the book!

I’m still working on the cover with my designer, Jay Schlie, so I don’t have a launch date yet, but hopefully it will be out by April 1.

Here is a small sample,

Unable to get close enough to see what her dog had found, Karen sat on a large rock. She braced her feet against the root of a gnarled Jafrey Pine that managed to grow out of a tiny crevice. She dug Bo’s leash out of her back-pack, and used it to anchor herself to the twisted tree trunk. She eased along the edge of the water holding the leash, but her left foot slipped on the wet mossy surface.  Karen grimaced with pain, as she went down hard on one knee, and wrenched her arm.

She was able to pull herself up and regain her footing, taking a few moments to gather her courage. Bo came bounding over, drool stringing out of his mouth, his tongue hanging out. He whined, and was off again, back to the same area. When she was able, Karen slid along and finally got to where he had his head and most of his body stuffed into a narrow fissure in the granite, only his tail and trembling hindquarters visible above the rock.

The crack between the sides of the solid rock was no more than two feet across at its widest point. It extended for, what Karen estimated to be, eighteen feet or so. She sat down on the edge of the fissure, bracing her feet on the smooth rim. With her flashlight, she swept a beam of light down as far as she could. She could see nothing but darkness in the narrow void, so she inched along the crack a little further, and tried again. The third time she flashed the beam into the blackness, she saw a twisted body, wedged between the walls of the narrow chasm.