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Mischief & Magic



Blog home of artist and writer Rebecca (Kate) Sterling



Last Build Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 11:33:09 +0000

 



What a difference a year makes...

Thu, 21 Jan 2016 00:04:00 +0000

This time last January, I was on cloud 9 (or higher, depending on what’s the best.) JI had quit my full-time job on December 31st2014, and was attempting to fly solo for 2015.  Life was beautiful.  Around the end of May last year, however, fear started to settle in.  I’d had a lot of unexpected expenses, also needed to see a doctor but couldn’t afford the Cobra payments and due to bureaucratic snafus with ObamaCare, I had no insurance (don’t get me started), and my daughter was accepted at the expensive college she applied to.  Right about that time, an opportunity came up in a company to work full time with a former boss that I really liked, so I took it and went back to working full-time on 6/8/15.From then until now, it has been non-stop work and health issues. (I suspect working 60-90 weeks every week, working all holidays and weekends, might have something to do with the health issues, but who’s to say?) I’ve basically given up my cover art work due to lack of time and energy, as well as the spasms that have developed in my back, right arm, and leg, which cause me to lose control of my limbs at some point nearly every day now. It started getting worse June (hmm… coinciding with the demanding new job… and keeps getting progressively worse.)  I saw a doctor who referred me to a neurologist, but since the insurance I have is awful and can’t afford all those tests, I haven’t been back.  However, the GP seems to think it’s from stress… go figure…From January 2015 full of hope to January 2016 wondering what the heck I’m going to do now. LSo, since today is my birthday and I’ve been doing a lot of hard thinking the past couple of weeks, I took the day off to think about where I am and what I could change.  Came to the conclusion that self-care, a positive attitude, and daily meditation on all the things I have go be grateful for will help tremendously.  That is what I plan to focus on for the rest of the year. I also came up with a writing plan for the year.  Since the art is on hiatus until I can get my arm under control, I’ve installed Dragon dictation software on my computers and have been having fun training my dragon. J  It’s very helpful. In my insanity, I even attempted NaNoWriMo with it in November and made great progress.  Lost my voice for a couple of days, though, from all that talking. JAm hopeful that with the dictation software and a good plan, I might actually get back to writing again and release a couple of books this year.Fingers crossed… JAnd to you who may be reading this:  I wish you and yours the best year of your lives for 2016.[...]



I miss the bloggers...

Sun, 19 Jul 2015 17:43:00 +0000

Yesterday, I saw somebody mention on Facebook how much they missed the blogging days before FB and Twitter.  I agree.  The connections just seemed deeper, the information more interesting. But then it seemed we were all just so busy... and still are.

Yet so much has happened over time that trying to capture it in 140 characters or less seems impossible.

I miss the days of long, thoughtful posts by Natasha Fondren, Stewart Sternberg, Charles Gramlich, Sidney Williams, Steve Malley, Edie Ramer, Avery DeBow, Wayne Sallie, Jon Zech (so very missed!), and so many others.  Granted, several people do still post to their blogs, but the days of sharing of an active blogging community appear to be behind us.

And sadly, I'm as guilty as anybody for neglecting it all. Yet reading about Randy Johnson's passing on July 12, which was also Jon Zech's birthday, has made me a little nostalgic today and caused a few tears to fall.

Yet time marches on. We run, we stumble, we fly, we fall. Then get up again and again until the day we do it for the final time.

Here's hoping we all fly at the last.



It's the little things...

Thu, 05 Feb 2015 04:50:00 +0000

So, I've decided to go back to my roots with this blog (in other words, writing about writing and life in general) rather than talk too much about the graphic design.  After all, I have plenty of other places where I share the artwork.

Since quitting my "day job" to see if I could make it on my own as a freelancer, I've started writing again. I spent most of today editing some old work that I plan on re-releasing, as well as working on some new stuff. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed that. 

So, to get ready for what I hope will be at least 4 new releases this year, I wanted to put together a website for my books.  I already had a domain name that I purchased last year and never used, and it's still good for another year. However, as I looked into various options, I decided to just keep my old friend Blogger, and point the domain name here.

Well... that wasn't as easy as I thought it would be!  However, after much ado, I now have "katesterling.net" pointing right here. It was so exciting! Lol. Like I said, it's the little things in life that count. :)

In other news, I also starting working as an editor for Cobblestone Press again, in addition to creating cover artwork for them.

What's new with you?



Magical Mondays: The List

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 17:42:00 +0000

Last June, I had listened to some old Napoleon Hill recordings, and per their recommendation, made a list of some objectives as well as how I intended to pay for the things I wanted to accomplish. For a few weeks, I slept with it under my pillow, then one day moved it to a drawer and forgot about it. I found it the other day while cleaning out some things and was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the things on the list have come to pass with perhaps one exception - and even that exception is actually true at the moment (whether it will continue to be true over the next few months remains to be seen).

Here's an example of an objective/accomplishment that I had written on 6/14/14:
I wake up in the mornings feeling happy, peaceful, excited and inspired to work on whichever type of art I choose to do, and that is how I spend my "working days" - all of the effort to accomplish this feels like fun and is easy and enjoyable because I am working with my strengths and passion.

A payment example:
I will work toward my objectives every day.
There are several more, but you get the idea - and they are all true as of today.

I keep the list by my computer so I see it every morning now. It helps on those days when I have doubts (and I do have those days!) to remember that dreams do come true.






Another year, another change

Sun, 11 Jan 2015 17:45:00 +0000

So, it's been almost two years - wow! - since my last post (which was, coincidentally, about transformation) and now I'm here to talk about what a difference a year (or two) makes.  Almost two years ago, I decided to pursue more of my digital design work due to competing priorities. This met with varying success - sometimes more business than I could handle on top of too much "day job" duties made me have to put it on hiatus for a while, then started up again last year.  I hadn't been blogging much in the past few years anyway, since work and Facebook seemed to be where most of my social time was spent.

Anyway, 2014 was full of challenges and rewards. Day job was a bear as always (working 50-100 hours per week), and my part-time gig, Sterling Design Studio, was also keeping me fairly busy. Then at the beginning of October, my wonderful boss was let go and our whole department was combined with another, less worker-friendly department in an unexpected restructuring.  From then onward, I was miserable, overworked, and really not liking the way things were headed.  I'd already been having to turn business away because of work conflicts, but with the new supervisor, I was going to have to cut back or even quit the artwork altogether.

About that time I ran across three things that had a major impact:  the books "Be a Free Range Human" by Marianne Cantwell and "Escape From Cubicle Nation" by Pamela Slim, and this video of a commencement speech by Jim Carrey. 

width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ajMpfPYlHi4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

http://www.buzzfeed.com/maycie/this-61-second-video-of-jim-carreys-commencement-speech-will?utm_term=.da6OkYAZq&sub=3324049_3121257

There's more about what transpired here (SM Freedman Blog) in an interview that I gave to S.M. Freedman, author of the "The Faithful" and one of my clients.  (Side note regarding that book: one of Oprah Winfrey's staff read it and liked it enough to give to Oprah to read, and suggested it for her book club. Congratulations to S.M. Freedman - a great writer and a wonderful person!)  

Anyway, to make a long story short:  I quit my day job. Am now a full-time artist and writer - just like I've always wanted to be. :)  Where it will lead from here, who knows... but at least I plan on enjoying the journey while I can.

So, that's my recent big news - what's up in your world that you'd like to share?





Transformation News

Wed, 03 Apr 2013 19:08:00 +0000

For the past year or so, I've struggled with finding time to both write and do cover art, and found that I was putting in far more time (voluntarily and otherwise) doing the artwork. Hence, I decided that what little spare time I had might be better spent focusing on the area that seemed to come more naturally to me: artwork.

With that in mind, I started systematically removing references to any books I still had out there (and am in the process of removing the last one, once the rights are reversed).  At the same time, I started highlighting the digital design work more and more.  I had taken a break from it entirely last summer because the day job was too overwhelming, but am now ready to get back in the ring. 

I also started moving away from the "Kate" name on Facebook, Twitter, etc. because I'd always done the book covers for Cobblestone under the name of Rebecca K. Sterling. (Not that "Kate" is going to disappear entirely, mind you - she'll be back eventually, but with a different genre as well.)
  
So, if you start seeing posts under the names of RK Sterling or Rebecca Sterling, no need to wonder who the heck is that... :)

Meanwhile, my new website is up (more to add and tweak, but wanted to get something out there for now):  http://www.sterlingdesignstudios.com/  It's a bit graphic intensive, so it may take a moment to load.  I'm still figuring out how to handle that.

What news would you like to share?



New Direction

Wed, 13 Mar 2013 13:32:00 +0000

Once again, it has been a while. Since this is actually my first post of 2013 (wow, sorry!) I figured I'd get caught up on what's been going on. The day job has been crazy busy as always.  I've given up thinking that there will ever be any down time, and finally stop torturing myself with thoughts of, "Oh, in just 6 more weeks things will slow down and I'll be able to write/paint/sculpt/do-any-fun-thing-I'd-rather-be doing." 

Because frankly, ain't gonna happen. I've been consistently working anywhere from 50 up to 110 hours a week for the past several years, and I don't think that's going to change until my kid graduates college and can afford to be on her own (at least another 4 years).  At that point (if I'm still alive), I hope to be able to become the starving artist I always wanted to be. :)

Meanwhile, I'll just add in the writing/painting/sculpting/cover art/etc. as I can, try to enjoy it as a hobby for now, and not torture myself thinking that I should be doing more to make a business of it.  The hope is that during the next however-long-it-will-take, I would have at least accomplished a few things that I'll have as a starting point if/when I do have time again.

And believe it or not, 4 - 5 years goes by really quickly.  Heck, I've been doing this blog for 7 years now!  It seems like yesterday...

And I don't regret a minute of it. :) 

And even though I've been working like crazy, I took the time to start my "good year jar", and realized that even in the midst of the insanity and occasional disappointments, I've still been averaging 2 - 3 really good things per week.

How are things going for your 2013?





Magical Mondays: Gratitude

Mon, 08 Oct 2012 18:55:00 +0000

OK, I'm going to cop out a little here since I don't have much time today. Just suffice it to say that a little gratitude goes a long way to making our lives (and those of others) much happier. :)




Magical Mondays: The Power of Positive Visualization, Part 2

Mon, 01 Oct 2012 22:18:00 +0000

Well, I decided to not go into too much more detail about the last post and risk boring you. So, to cut a long story short: I did reach (and surpass) all those monetary goals that I kept in mind, one after the other. First $9/hr, then $15/hr, then $64K/yr, and the one after $64k/yr -- $120K/yr -- is now within a few months of my reach should I continue to pursue it.  In fact, I've already crossed that one off my list and moved the next goal into first place, even though technically, I'm not there yet.  It's just that I KNOW I could if I wanted. All I have to do is switch from employee to consultant, which I might do next year.Keeping goals firmly in mind -- and believing you'll reach them -- really works, folks.Even for healing, as we can see from the placebo effect.Definition of Placebo effect (from http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=31481)_Placebo effect: Also called the placebo response. A remarkable phenomenon in which a placebo -- a fake treatment, an inactive substance like sugar, distilled water, or saline solution -- can sometimes improve a patient's condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful. Expectation to plays a potent role in the placebo effect. The more a person believes they are going to benefit from a treatment, the more likely it is that they will experience a benefit. (highlight and italics mine)In 2006, I was at work and had sudden, bad chest pain. I went to the ER and they took some images. The first one, on 6/22, showed evidence of a compression fracture. I saw a specialist who looked at the images and agreed. He wanted me to wear a back brace, which I didn't really want to do. When I went to be fitted for the brace, the office I had to go to was closed and it would be a couple of weeks before I go again.  Over the next two weeks, every single day and several times a day, I strongly visualized my back healing and repeated over and over, "my back is completely healed."  I believed it would work, and was already feeling better by the time I went back for the second set of images on 7/9. Below are the results from my own medical record taken 17 days apart.Of course, people could always come up with alternative explanations for what happened; however, I believed that my back was healthy, and it was. Yet, that's mild compared to what others have been through, and their sheer determination to overcome difficulties.  Morris Goodman comes to mind, and I know there are many others out there as well.Do you have any stories you'd like to share about the power of positive thinking in your life?[...]



Magical Mondays: The Power of Positive Visualization

Mon, 24 Sep 2012 03:13:00 +0000

In my last blog, I stated that I wanted to share some experiences with you that I felt spoke to the truth of Napoleon Hill’s (and others) assertion that positive visualization and belief in ones' abilities can make a great impact in our lives. But before I get any further into it, I’d like to state that I have NOTHING against working in a factory, nor against accepting aid when needed (you'll see why I say that in just a minute). I’m merely relating some things that were told to me some years ago.The Conspiring Universe, Part 1When I filed for divorce from my daughter's father in 1996, I had only a high school education, had been a homemaker for the past 10 years, had no technical skills, and had almost no real work experience to speak of.  My ex-husband--and even my own lawyer!--advised me not to divorce; they both claimed I would never be able to have more than what I had then, due to my lack of education, being out of the workforce for ten years, and because I’d end up a single mother. The lawyer said I would never remarry (according to him, divorced women in their 30’s never remarry) and that I would either have to work in a factory for the rest of my life or have to go on welfare. My ex at least had a little more faith in me. He said that if I learned to type, I might get a job making $7.00 an hour working as a secretary (minimum wage at that time was around $5 an hour).  I looked at both of them and thought, "You don't know me."I made up my mind in that moment to start working at $9.00 hour somehow (in my inexperience, I thought that was a lot of money). And even though I had no idea how I would get there, over the next several weeks I kept picturing myself holding a paycheck with those wages. Once the divorce was final, I applied to a temp agency, and the first job I got was in credit and collections for $9.00 hour. When that job ended a few months later, I knew $9/hr wasn’t going to be enough to raise a child, and wondered what my next step should be. By “chance” (more about that another time) I found some free classes that offered to help under-employed workers and displaced homemakers. I applied for and was accepted into the classes, and one of the things I had to do for them was listen to tapes on positive visualization. I was supposed to lie down and meditate every day on what success would look like for me. According to the tapes, I was supposed to "set the dream and grow into it" by writing down a couple of goals that were well beyond my current reach, and work toward them. The first goal was to be a "starter" goal, and the second, an even bigger goal. The idea was that once you reached the first goal, the second goal moved into the first position, and another, larger goal was to be set for the second.I wrote down my first two things: one, to work as an admin assistant for $15.00 an hour; and two, to somehow, some way, earn $64,000 a year. Mind you, at that time, I still thought $15/hour was a complete impossibility given my lack of education and skills – I still couldn’t even type!  And the second goal, 64K a year? Ridiculous! I thought I would have to get at least a Master’s degree for that, and I hadn’t the money nor the time to pursue such a goal. However, I did take some of what little money I had and enrolled in a typing class, as well as a basic computer course.That was the start of what I would remember some years later, when I read the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” [...]



Magical Mondays on a Saturday: Napoleon Hill and Encouragement

Sun, 23 Sep 2012 04:36:00 +0000

The past few days I have been listening to recordings from a Napoleon Hill workshop that I found here: http://archive.org/details/Napoleon_Hill_Rare_Recordings

What a blast! I love hearing his voice, and those in the audience when they called out the answers. Most importantly, it reaffirmed many beliefs by which I already live my life, formed by personal experience.

In short, that the power of positive belief, a willingness to go above and beyond what is asked of you, and the keeping of a constant, clear image of what you want (and always working toward it) will take you where you want to go. 

Many people throughout history have written and spoken of these things, so the message is not new.  In short, it boils down to faith backed by action. Imagination, determination, and work. Haven't all things created in this world been brought about by those things?

As I listened to the workshop, I was reminded of so many life experiences that I've had which illustrate the truth of his words, and have been sharing some of those with my daughter to encourage her. And over the next few days and weeks, I want to publicly share some of those experiences in the hope that they will encourage others as well. It has certainly been encouraging to me to reflect on them as I start moving in a new direction with my writing and life. 

I'll post the first one on Monday (9/24/12), and hope you'll join in and be encouraged, too. :)



Getting Organized and Free Book

Sat, 04 Aug 2012 13:10:00 +0000

Around this time last year, I was having major health issues and thought I would have to pack up everything and move back to Arizona with my brother. Well, I did pack up most of my stuff, but then ending up going back to work here, changing jobs, going through intensive training for the new job, and have spent the last 6 months incredibly busy with said new job.

So... what that meant was, I still haven't unpacked!  Sheesh.  I've taken a few days off work to finally get my home in order, and made huge strides yesterday in getting my art & writing areas set up so that I can actually write and create art in peace. What a difference that made in how I feel!  I can't wait to finish it all so I can relax and get back into a routine of doing things I love.

Do you have a favorite area that you create in?  Does how it's set up make a difference to your productivity?

Meanwhile, if you haven't read Mark Diehl's "Vida Nocturna" (I interviewed him a few blog posts back) now is your chance to get it for free on Kindle, or have a chance to get a free print version from Goodreads.  I believe this will be available for the next 4 days or so.



Making the Cut

Sat, 28 Jul 2012 19:33:00 +0000

In my last blog, both blog and comments mentioned the importance of characters. Characters you love, characters you love to hate, and basically, characters you just plain can't get enough of.  Snape from the Harry Potter series immediately comes to mind for me (as do most of the HP characters), and so do Aziraphale and Crowley from "Good Omens", Granny from Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series, and Elizabeth Bennett - do I need to say where she's from? :)

Since I've been trying to pare down WIPs and ideas to ones that I can be truly excited about, I decided to take a long hard look at the over 100 characters currently residing in my Muse's employ (that is to say, those who are taking up cubicle space on my computer, not those who have simply put in their applications and are waiting for me to get back to them.)

I'm sad to say that I had to fire all but about 10 of them. Which means a good 90% got pink slips. Wow.  Oh, they cried, they begged, they lied about sick grannies they needed to take care of, but times are tough and the slackers had to go.  Granted, some of them weren't that bad (I'll still give them references and "Like" their Facebook pages) but they just didn't add enough benefit to justify the cost of keeping them around.

Yep, I'm a cold-hearted slavedriver. This writing stuff ain't for sissies. Now I just hope the ones who are left will pull their weight (glares as they hunker over their desks).

So, who are some of your favorite characters, and why?

And what advice would you give to an out of work character so he can find work again? :)



I think they might be missing the point...

Mon, 09 Jul 2012 19:59:00 +0000

I read an article recently that Hollywood is scouring the indie books to find more like "50 Shades of Grey" so they can buy the film rights. That reminded me of how so many of the children's and YA books that came out after Harry Potter were all about the witches and wizards, and then later, all about vampires after Twilight came out.

Now, I have nothing against erotica, witches, or vampires.  I happen to like them all. 

HOWEVER, trying to make lightning strike twice using a copycat approach just doesn't work, in my humble opinion, and here's why:

The reason I loved the Harry Potter series wasn't because it was about a boy wizard at a magical boarding school. I loved Harry Potter because of the characters, and the way the books made me feel.  I loved the fun and the mystery. The magic and supernatural elements, and the fantastic world building were all wonderful, granted - but they were still only a part of it. The real appeal for me was in the characters I fell in love with - characters I wanted to spend time with, and get to know. 

Recently, before I had even read the article about Hollywood copies, I had started looking at my own WIPs and deciding what was worth keeping and what wasn't. Thought about the books I like to read, and why.  Thought about the type of book that would make me super excited to get to the keyboard every day and keep at it until I typed "the end."  I realized that I wanted characters I would love as much the characters in my favorite books, settings that were so real I could feel right at home, and a nice dash of mystery and fun.

And guess what?  They don't have to be boy wizards or sparkly vampires or kinky guys tying people to their beds for that to happen.  :)

How about you? What keeps you excited to get to the keyboard/pad of paper?



The Amazing Subconscious Mind

Sat, 30 Jun 2012 20:28:00 +0000

Ok, so this morning I did some exercises recommended by Holly Lisle to get information out of the right side of the brain. I wanted to come up with something new - an angle I hadn't used before, but that I was familiar with, and that might work for me. Then, I took a nap.

I had a strange dream that I was reading a magazine which announced that J.R. Ward and Tess Gerritsen were the same person (they are not, in reality).  I woke up wondering what THAT was all about.  I've never even read one of Tess Gerritsen's books (though I hear they're good). I have read several of J.R. Ward's books, and she writes about vampires, angels, and demons - I wasn't sure what Gerritsen wrote.  After a few moments, I thought I remembered reading that Gerritsen wrote medical thrillers. I looked it up on the web to be sure, and yes, she did. Then I downloaded one of her short stories to my Kindle to see if I could figure out a connection, but I still couldn't see a one--other than both write rather darkly--so I wasn't sure why I would dream they were the same person. 

Until it hit me. The link was medicine, and in particular, hospitals. Gerritsen writes medical thrillers - J.R. Ward used to work in hospital administration. And where I have I worked for the past 10 years... in hospitals.

So, don't be surprised if you see a hospital pop up in my work in the near future... :)

Have you ever had your subconscious mind make a connection for you that was unexpected, and were you able to use it in a story or to solve a problem?



Some Flot and Some Jet...

Mon, 25 Jun 2012 09:46:00 +0000

Or, flotsam and jetsam... whatever...

So, I thought it was around 5:15am and got up to get ready for work. Decided to do a quick email check - discovered it was only 4:20.  Must have accidentally set my clock up an hour when I set the alarm last night. Darn it.

Anyhoodles, I decided I might as well write something while I was up. You see, I've been working 7 days a week, 12 - 22 hours a day for a LONG time now and finally had to give it up.  So, about 9 days ago, I officially took a break from doing cover art so that I could reclaim some night and weekend time, and spend more time with my daughter who was briefly hospitalized two weeks ago.  (She's just fine now, by the way - but it really made me examine my priorities.)

Having a tiny break in my schedule also gave me some time to start thinking about writing again, which I haven't done in at least 6 months. Since my purpose in not doing cover art now is to keep from killing myself with a crazy schedule and neglecting my family, it would be foolish to push myself into a writing frenzy. However, after doing the math, I realized I could probably finish about 50K words in three months even if I only wrote 15 minutes a day.  That's a decent size for an e-book, and stealing 15 minutes out of my day wouldn't hurt anything, would it?  So, that's my new goal.

Just 15 minutes a day. Let's see what happens.

Any new goals in your life?  Or read any great books lately?




Special Guest Mark Diehl

Fri, 22 Jun 2012 01:08:00 +0000

I have a special guest blogger today: Mark D. Diehl.  Please make him welcome. :)Hello, Mark, and welcome! I understand your first novel, “Vida Nocturna,” was recently released. Tell us a little about the story, such as why did you want to tell this particular story? What was it that appealed most to you, and what was your inspiration?It’s my answer to what the publishing industry has become. “Twilight” was a huge hit because it combined two huge sellers – vampires and romance. Then all the other publishers saw the numbers and suddenly everyone was putting out series – not just books, but series – about vampires in love. Some agents are now dictating what stories authors should write to gain representation. When corporations control the arts to that degree, with the market chasing whatever sold best before, we get the death spiral of creativity we’ve been seeing in publishing lately. In “Vida Nocturna,” the shy, innocent girl fantasizes her spooky new boyfriend is a vampire. By the time she realizes that he’s slender and pale, doesn’t eat, and stays up all night with lots of energy because he’s actually a cocaine addict, she has been “bitten” by the drug and become addicted, herself. We worked together on the cover for this novel, and I'll admit that, at first, I found your vision a bit unusual for this type of story. Tell us the reason why you chose those images and colors, rather than other, more traditional, "horror" stock?It’s not a traditional horror story but to me it’s still a vampire tale. She loses her soul and tries to fill up the space where it used to be. Was the “bite” really her reliance upon drugs and alcohol, or might it have been earlier, from her bullying, neglectful, personality-disordered parents? There’s nothing supernatural about the vampires in this story but they are still as soulless and desperate to fill themselves with what they need as any monsters in classic horror. I love how the cover turned out. You and I went back and forth on the colors a lot because I wanted it to indicate that there was something different about this book and link it partially to horror and partially to the ‘80s drug stories like “Bright Lights, Big City.” I think you captured the book’s feel perfectly: It is true horror, not supernatural horror, set amidst the decadent '80s club subculture.I've been a fan of your Deadjournal blog for a while now.  Your life experiences have made for fascinating reading. For example, you've been homeless in Japan, taught English in Korea, from where you and your wife had to escape to save your lives, you've been an attorney in the US, and more. What made you decide to get into writing at this point in your life?I grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, which is a mecca for writers from all over the world. Everywhere I went there were always people scribbling in notebooks or giving feedback to each other, and every crappy, dead-end job I worked in high school always had an aspiring writer or two. I ran around with the delinquents and hoods, hustling my way through life, and the only thing I was sure of was that I would never fall into the futureless trap of trying to be a writer. Instead I ended up living overseas for a while, then found myself back in Iowa City, and broke. I applied to graduate school, not for writing, of course, but for real, grown-up sorts of things, telling myself I'd go to whatever department accepted me. I ended up getting into the University of Iowa's law school, dental school, and MBA program, and thought maybe it'd be cool to do all three. The dental school said no way, so I was gone. [...]



7-7-7 Meme from Sidney Williams

Thu, 22 Mar 2012 01:31:00 +0000

Ok, I've been tagged.  Sidney Williams listed me in this meme over at his blog:

1.) Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2.) Go to line 7.
3.) Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 other victims ...er, authors.

Well, since I don't have 77 pages in my current WIP (only around 30 or so) I went with page 7.


Her sarcasm was lost on Jeff. His eyes widened. “You had a trust fund?”

“God, you’re an idiot. It’s a good thing I like you or I’d been dumping this soup over your head right now. I still can’t promise I won’t.”

Jeff shook his head. “I’m sorry, Al, but I can’t believe that you, of all people, had never heard of Midnight Ink.”

She shot him another sour look, hating how she’d been made to feel more foolish than she already did. It wasn’t like she was plugged into the whole world of body art. Her tattoo and piercings were done by other delinquents like herself, in abandoned buildings and unsterile conditions, but Jeff didn’t need to know that.

“Well, obviously I didn’t, so just tell me what you know.”


That's mine.  I won't tag anybody, but if you'd like to share yours here, I'd love to see them.



Nature + Vacuum = No Love

Sat, 10 Mar 2012 20:22:00 +0000

(Huh. That equation is also true with me in the place of nature. My carpets can testify.)

The saying that "nature abhors a vacuum" is apparently true. Remember my grand plan last month to get rid of those two hours wasted online every evening?

I did get rid of them - and immediately, my day job exploded with work. I've been working 10 - 12 hour days, 6 - 7 days a week, ever since I "freed" those "extra" two hours.  That'll teach me.

What have you been up to?



Keeping Track

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 01:10:00 +0000

What would you do with an extra two to four hours per day?

Lately, I've been keeping track of how I spend my time. After a careful watch for the past couple of weeks, I noticed that when I come home from work, I tend to spend about two hours on the Internet reading emails, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Occasionally participating, but mostly just reading. 

Wow. 

Then, depending on what's going on that day, there could be another two hours either taking care of chores, spending time with my daughter, and/or watching Netflix. 

That's definitely two hours per day that could be repurposed, with a good chance of some days having four!

So, my friends, I'm taking those two to four hours back. For at least the next thirty days, I'll check my email during my lunch break at work in case there is some important business matter that needs addressing, but otherwise, I'll be refraining from the Internet.  I'll miss catching up with everyone, but if you need me, you can email my yahoo account: katesterlingwriting.

The goal is to spend those extra 2 - 4 hours organizing, writing, and exercising. In other words, working on those boob wishes: first draft of Midnight Ink complete, lose 10 pounds, and get my bedroom organized.

God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll be back in about a month to let you know how it went.  Or, if I slip off the wagon, maybe I'll update my Twitter or Facebook status with a mini check-in. :)

Of course, I'd still love hearing what's new with you, so don't hesitate to email. I'll have an hour during lunch for that. :)



Analysis Paralysis

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 15:39:00 +0000

There I was, merrily typing away this weekend - 2K+ each on Friday and Saturday - and got up this morning to try to put in at least two more today.

I'd had a long dry spell that I always blamed on the day job and lack of time/energy, etc.  But the truth was that I just didn't know where the stories were going. I was afraid I couldn't create a believable, exciting enough plot. I got tangled up in doubts and couldn't seem to extricate myself to move forward. The harder I tried to force it, the worse it got.

Until this past Thursday evening.

While thinking of something else entirely, a line I'd read somewhere flashed in my mind. "Plot is simply what the characters have to go through to reach their goal."

Aha!

I'd been fretting over action, intrigue, etc., but it all hinged on goals. What did my characters want? What were they trying to achieve?  Simple, right?

I suddenly felt very relaxed and simultaneously energized. I let that epiphany settle in for the next several hours until I was totally at ease with the idea. Lo and behold, Friday evening, after already having worked twelve hours, I sat down and easily added another 2K+ words to a manuscript. Didn't even break a sweat. Got up Saturday and did the same thing. In fact, I could have written more, but I deliberately held back so I wouldn't wear myself out.

I got up this morning, determined to do it all again... until I read this blog on believable characters. 

It's a great blog, it really is. But things like that tend to bring me to a screeching, doubt filled halt.  Suddenly, I was hung up again on not being good enough. Were my character flat? Cliches? Unoriginal? 

Oy vey! How could I possibly write a novel? I'm not nearly good enough!

Now I'm trying to recover from the doubts again. It took me the past two YEARS to come to grips with plot. Now I have to deal with character, too?!

You know what?  I'm just going to try to not worry about it right now.  Just keep writing until the darn thing is finished and then go back to see if the characters need more work. At that point, I can use Rick's great blog as a thermometer to see they're ill. And I'll be grateful for it then.

Right now, I just need to stop worrying about it and get on with the process. Like Nora Roberts says (I think she said it) "You can fix a bad page, but you can't fix a blank page." 

Though, actually, I think you fix the blank page by filling it up with stuff - even if it's bad. :)



Winter is Coming...

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 16:47:00 +0000

So said the Starks.  (For those of you who don't get the reference, it's from "Game of Thrones")

Anyway, it's currently 12 degrees and snowing here.  I thought it wasn't supposed to snow when it got that cold?  What gives?

I think it also speaks to the winter of my life - I swear that last night I came up with a good topic for posting today, but for the life of me, now I can't remember what it was! Getting old...

What's new in your neck of the woods?  The weather treating you ok?

I'm thinking of doing another "boob wish month" - anyone want to join me?



The Man in the Red Jacket

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 19:06:00 +0000

This post may ramble a bit, because I haven't thought any of it through, but am just going on the feeling that I want to mention these things.

From the window my desk faces (as well as from my balcony) I can see the apartment building next door.  For the past five years, an older gentleman in a worn, red jacket stood in one of the doorways there and smoked.  We would watch each other, he and I, but never say a word.  A small smile or nod of acknowledgment from time to time, but neither of us knew anything about the other - other than he smoked in the early morning and evening, and wore a red jacket.  I wrote in the early morning and evening, and sometimes took fresh air on my balcony.  Over the years, I somehow came to feel very fond of this old guy, as did my daughter, Emily.  She would see him in the afternoon, riding his bicycle around the parking lot and found him charming as well.

The day after Christmas, he was working on the roof when he suddenly fell off and died from the impact.  My daughter and I didn't know right away it was him - only that someone had fallen and died.  We both said the same thing at the same time: "I hope it wasn't the old man in the red jacket."  Sadly, it was.  And even though it would have been tragic no matter who had fallen, our first thoughts went to him.  There were other people living over there, but he somehow touched our hearts without ever having spoken a word.

We later found out this poor man had no family, and the other people in his building didn't know what to do about the body. He was originally from Mexico, and his remains were left to the state of Illinois.  Emily and I were heartbroken when we heard this news, and I have been saddened ever since.  Just yesterday, I thought I saw him in his doorway and in a flash of a second was so happy to see him before I remembered he was gone.  I started crying and couldn't stop.  It was just too sad that this poor man lived and died alone, far from home and whatever family he started with.  No one to say goodbye to him, no one to mourn him.  As I cried, my cats gently walked up to me, eyes worried, then climbed on my lap and started licking my hands. I realized they were upset because I was, and so I began to soothe them as they soothed me. 

In that moment, I realized that even though I never knew him, the man in the red jacket did not go unmourned or unmissed.  He is still remembered fondly.
May he rest in peace.



And now for the rest of the year....

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 15:04:00 +0000

I've heard that how you spend either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day is how you'll spend the rest of the new year.  Not that I believe it or anything (grin), but so far, it has always proved true for me.  So, this past weekend I made sure to be productive. :)

Of course, NYE wasn't as productive as NYD, but I'm telling myself it was still time well spent - mainly relaxing, getting caught up on blog friends' posts, spending time with my daughter, and planning ahead for the following week.  Yesterday involved a lot of cleaning, organizing, reading, plotting, budget forecasting, cooking, and making healthy food choices.  If the rest of the year goes the same, I could live with that. :)

Sidney Williams had a nice blog about the challenge of keeping the old tooshey in the chair and the hands on the keyboard, and I took away some good tips from his link to the Pomodoro Technique.  I'm putting them into practice today.

Also, if you haven't read Edie Ramer's Cattitude yet, it's available free until tomorrow.

Charles Gramlich also has a new, humorous book out:  Days of Beer: A Memoir of a Beer Drinkin' Man.

And I'm happy to report that Avery DeBow is planning to get back into the writing and publishing scene this year.  I look forward to seeing what she comes up with.

These are just a few things off the top of my head - I'm sure there's much more news.  How are you hoping to spend this year?



Woof... I mean, Meow...

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 01:05:00 +0000

Ok, so this was on the front page of Yahoo, so you may have already seen it, but I loved it so much I had to post.  Especially since this cat looks exactly one of mine - the sneaky one!

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