Embracing The Courage To Fail

go for it

My husband and I were married in 1996, which, in baseball terms, was Derek Jeter’s Rookie year as a Yankee.  During the years that followed, we watched Jeter and the other members of the Yankees became super-successful in subsequent years.  As a Yankee fan, I can tell you it was a thrilling time to follow the team.

Tonight, Jeter’s Number 2 was retired, and to commemorate the event, there were televised interviews and memories shared.  But, what was it about Jeter that made him so great?  Was it natural born talent?  Was it that his parents raised him a particular way?  Was it that he surrounded himself with people he wanted to emulate?  Perhaps.  More than likely, a combination of these created the baseball player he eventually would become.

During the Jeter event today, one commentator made a statement which stuck with me.  He said something to the effect of “To achieve greatness, you can’t be afraid to fail.”

Ugh.  That’s really hard.  So many of us are programmed to “fail to fail”.  We are taught that failure is bad, that failure will keep you from your goal.  As a writer, failing can mean something small, like I don’t complete my word count, or something large, like secure a publishing contract.  It means I might hit writer’s block and not be able to move a work forward.  It could mean that the concept of a work in progress is a no-go, even when I have spent many months, or even years, trying to develop it.

Failure can be debilitating.

But it doesn’t have to be.  During the Jeter festivities tonight, more than one person commented that Jeter expected to win every day.  He gave his all every time out on the field.  When he “failed” on the field,  his took that failure as an opportunity for growth.  That’s why he was such a good Yankee captain.

#Re2pect

Jeter was successful because he wan’t afraid to fail.

As writer’s, we can use this concept to our advantage.  What does failure as a writer really mean?  Sure, the word count miss, or the lack of a publishing contract seems like they are fails.  However, in the bigger picture, we can look at these little failures as part of our eventual path to greatness.  If we keep at it, refuse to give up, change some things when what we are doing doesn’t work out, we will all get there.

Next time, when writer’s block hits, I think I will try something “radical” with my plot or characters, and see where it takes me.  Maybe next time, I won’t be afraid to play with the structure of a work, if it seems to be “failing”.  I hope I have the courage to do so.

what could go right

I’m glad I got to watch Jeter’s celebration tonight between games of the double header.  It gave me the courage to accept failure as part of a longer, more interesting, path to authorly success.

I hope things are going well with you all, and thanks for reading.  Do you have any advice for spinning failure into the big picture of success?  Let me know in the comments!

Novel Noshing: Foods Inspired By Our Novels and Characters, Part 3

food-and-books

Welcome back, Readers!  The picture above, which fits our literary/food theme so well (and apples for Fall…what could be better!), comes to us from literarytravels.net.  The caption under their photo states, “From Proust’s Madeleines to William Faulkner’s Mint Juleps, great literature has always influenced readers’ experiences of food.”  Even though I focus this blog series on new novels, and the authors who wrote them, the sentiment rings true.

For today’s installment of my food-tastic blog series, I introduce you to author CC Dowling…and Liv, the main character of her novel, CONDUIT.  To get us started, here is a scene from the novel which mentions the recipe included here.

Set up: Liv is on her way out the door for the first day of school when she spots breakfast.

        As I head to the back door to get my bike, something in the kitchen catches my eye. Pancakes! I drop my backpack with a thud and belly-up to the breakfast counter.

      Elia knows I can’t resist her almond meal and flax seed pancakes with pure Grade B maple syrup. I dump way too much syrup on the plate before unfolding the note that’s in serious danger of becoming sticky.

Liv,

Today is a big day for you, the first of many to come. I read in an online article that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I know, I know…the debate rages on. Just in case it’s true, I hope you will consider this pancake offering as brain food—not that you need any help.

I’m so proud of you.

Knock em dead.

Love,

Mom

      Tears fill my eyes, threatening to spill over and streak my mascara. Using the note as a fan, I dry my tears, resisting the urge to rub and smear my mascara. When I’m sure the moment is passed, I toss the note into my backpack and lick every last crumb from my plate before putting it in the sink.

Now, in her own words, here is Liv Hartley, from CONDUIT, by CC Dowling.

Hello everybody! My name’s Vivienne Hartley, but you can call me Liv for short. I’m a freshman studying naturopathic medicine at the California College of Natural Health in sunny Fallbrook, just north of San Diego. A few fun facts about me: I ride my bike everywhere, when I’m not jumping through dimensional portals; I’ve died once already and it isn’t fun, I don’t recommend it; and I have a love of food. Seriously, I can’t get enough, especially when my mom cooks. Her all organic, health conscious food with ‘tude makes even my grumpy afterlife caseworker mumble a polite request for seconds.

So, in the spirit of sharing (Ha! Yes, even the dead like puns), here is the recipe for Elia’s famous-to-me gluten free, paleo friendly, banana and cinnamon pancakes she made for me the first day of school. Because she loves me. And because she rocks.

 

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

  • 1 ½ cups pancake mix (obviously, Elia makes hers from scratch. But I’m a student. I don’t have time for that.)
  • 1 1/3 cup Almond Milk (I used sugar free because I don’t need the extra sugar.)
  • 1 ½ very ripe banana (Either fresh or frozen is fine.)
  • 1 to 2 tsp cinnamon depending on taste
  • 1 Tbsp Raw, organic Cacao powder (Or more to preference.)
  • For added flavor you can add a pinch of sea salt and/or vanilla or almond extract
  • Actually, you can add anything you want. I mean, be creative people

 

Preparation:

  • Mix ingredients with a blender. Why? Because it’s easier. If the mixture isn’t runny enough, you can add either more almond milk or water until desired consistency is reached.
  • Heat cast iron skillet on medium heat and add a dollop of coconut oil.
  • Cook pancakes in batches depending on size of pan. Also, if the pan gets too hot, you can remove it from the flame for about sixty seconds and then resume cooking.
  • When you’re done, garnish with blueberries and grade B maple syrup. Also, if you have a study hangover from the night before, and you want to treat yourself right, you can add chocolate chips into the batter. Your mouth will thank you. Trust me.

cinnamon-banana-pancakes

Ta da! Congratulations! You now have amazing, delicious brain food to last you the day. Well, at least until lunch. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you add to your reading list CONDUIT, Book 1 of the Infinity Series, written by CC Dowling. It’s a story about me trying to figure out the afterlife, and how to have a life. You might have to wait until 2017 to get that novel into your hot little hands, but you don’t have to wait to enjoy my favorite pancakes.

OH! Also, if you have a brilliant, amazing, utterly yummy idea on how to improve said pancakes, please leave a comment, and I will try them all. Uh, probably.  Maybe. Depending on what you suggest.

About CONDUIT:

Two things happen to Liv Hartley the day she turns eighteen: Freshman orientation and a tattoo. College she’s got covered. After all, she was a senior when she died the first time. The tattoo, that’s something new.

Liv quickly discovers there are consequences to bearing the coveted infinity symbol marking her as a Conduit—a reincarnated messenger of the Otherworld. When reaping souls, dodging a possessive demon, and straightening out her love life are the least of her worries, she’ll soon realize that getting a second chance doesn’t mean getting a better one.

With more questions piling up than either answers or bodies, there’s only one thing Liv knows for sure. Life doesn’t get any easier after death.

About the author:

c-c-dowling

When she was a child, CC Dowling knew two things. That she would never have kids, and she would be a writer, which makes her right half the time. CC currently lives in America’s finest city with her grade schooler (who plays in the back yard with the faeries), her toddling daughter (who loves everyone and can’t stop smiling), her husband (the financial shaman), her aussie (with mesmerizing blue eyes), and her very real pet dragon (who guards the perimeter of her house at night). When she’s not working or writing (which is still technically working), CC can be found lost in a good book and a dark piece of chocolate, or desperately trying to figure out which pair of sandals are the most appropriate for the harsh Southern California winters.

Her debut novel, CONDUIT, is the first in a New Adult Paranormal series.

Novel Noshing: Foods Inspired by our books and Characters, Part 1

gatsby-pic

Welcome, Readers!

The photo above, shows a Great Gatsby-inspired meal.  From the website, it states: Waldorf Salad in a lettuce cup, and deviled egg, photographed in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. http://www.denverpost.com.  I think it’s a great photo, and really sets the tone for what this blog series is about.

Today begins a month-long series, where some of my writerly friends and I will be sharing a little bit about our books, and recipes and foods which are inspired by them.  I intend to share a new post each week of October, highlighting an author or two, each time.

Planning this series was meaningful to me.  Foods and customs help to shape who we all are.  When writing, it’s important to include those types of things, because it helps create character depth, and brings a more intimate knowledge of the story to light.  When I read a novel, I want to feel like I live with those characters for a while.  This blog series is an attempt to bring you, the Reader, closer to living within the pages of our novels.  Join us!

For the first post in the series, I introduce you to J.M. Frey, the author of The Accidental Turn Series.  Here she is, posting in her own words.

 

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Bevel Dom’s Questing Cuisine

by J.M. Frey

One of the most fun parts of world building is figuring out the cuisines of the world. What grows in this climate? What is their staple grain? How often do they go to market? What kind of growing season do they get? Do they trade with neighbors, or neighboring counties, or neighboring countries? Do the highborn eat the same foods as the peasantry? Who gets to hunt on what land, and what sort of creatures do they consider food-animals over pet-animals?

For my novels and novellas in The Accidental Turn series, I firmly established a world where bread, cheese, European-style fruits and root vegetables, and farmed meat were the standards of faire. But my rogue and roving heroes – Kintyre Turn and Bevel Dom – were more likely to live off the land. Venison, eel, dried fruit and nuts, and foraged potatoes were more their speed. And in a world were exotic spices were non-existent and everyone – everyone human that is – had a kitchen garden filled with the same herbs, Bevel kept a string of cylindrical tins attached to his sword belt, and the spice blends he’d wheedled out of centaur chefs and night elf kitchen maids were his greatest treasure.

In his seventeen years as a roaming sword-for-hire, Bevel developed several clever and ingenious ways to serve up road-rations and just-caught creatures to make them palatable to two hungry Heroes. Here is one of them:

Bevel, trying to break through the heavy atmosphere, hands one of the leaf-wrapped packages to me, and the other to Kintyre. Wordlessly, Kintyre holds it out to Pip, and Pip, equally wordlessly, takes it. I take my own from Bevel, accepting the temporary truce, and it is still hot; it singes my fingertips a little. It steams as I unwrap it, and I am pleased to see that it is a sort of roll made up of meat wrapped around dried fruit. It is juicy and delicious, and I realize how hungry I am on the first bite.

“We’ve been doing this part of adventuring wrong,” Pip moans around her own mouthful.

Bevel pinks again. “I’ve had a long time to practice. Luckily, Kin was willing to put up with my experimentation.”

 “And I’m lucky Bevel actually enjoys cooking and was willing to experiment,” Kin says around a mouthful. “We got sick of standard travel fare pretty quick.”

 

BEVEL’S SWEET MEAT ROLLS

  • Venison, pounded flat (rehydrated from salted jerky is fine, if you have the time to soak it for a few hours), at least the size of your hand.
  • Dried berries – plums, cranberries and raisins preferred – rehydrated by soaking them in whatever liquor you happen to have to hand. Soak them for at least an hour.
  • Some dried nuts, roasted in a pan over your cookfire, if you like.
  • Large, thick, non-poisonous leaves – an acceptable equivalent in the Overrealm would be Banana leaves. Tinfoil would also be acceptable.
  • A Centaur Sweet and Savory Spice Blend – the Overrealm equivalent would be cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, sea salt, white pepper, and thyme blended to taste.

 

Build up your camp fire in advance so that by the time you’ve prepared your rolls the embers are hot and cherry red.  Pour three handfuls of dried fruit into your travel cup and soak it with liquor – whiskey, sherry, or brandy work best. Wait until all the liquid has been absorbed into the fruit; while you’re doing that pound your cuts of meat flat and lay them on the leaves. Muddle and chop the fruit and nuts together, and spread a thin layer over the meat. Sprinkle with your spice blend. Roll the meat and fruit mixture like a scroll, fold the leaf around it (making sure to tuck in the edges to the fire doesn’t crisp them), and secure all with a bit of string soaked with water. Place the whole package on the edge of the fire, and leave for upwards of an hour, until the meat is at your preferred cooking level, or your companion is complaining of hunger. Serve with a trencher of bread if you have any. Potatoes, baked in the fire, work just as well.

Or, I suppose y0u could do it on the Barbeque, if you want to cheat.

*

J.M. is a voice actor, SF/F author, fanthropologist and professional smartypants on AMI Radio’s Live From Studio 5. She’s appeared in podcasts, documentaries, and on television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. She also has an addiction to scarves, Doctor Who, and tea, which may or may not all be related. Her life’s ambitions are to have stepped foot on every continent (only 3 left!) @scifrey | http://www.jmfrey.net/

You can find out more about Bevel Dom and The Accidental Turn series here.

 

What would happen to your story in a fire?

This is something I have worried about as an author. There is some interesting info here! What steps do you all take to protect your work? Originally posted on the blog, Jeans Writing.

jean's writing

Or a flood, or should someone steal your computer?

I don’t know about you but, I’d have a freaking heart attack!laptop-fire

We’ve all know to back up our work. I do this religiously to an external hard drive. A hard drive that is in my closet, that would burn up with my laptop and house in a fire.

Geesh! Give me a minute while I bang my head on table.

September 15, 2016, the Associated Press reported about a fire. Nothing unusual about fires, they happen every day. Unless you are the victim. As was the case for Gideon Hodge a  novelist that realized his only copies  were on a laptop inside.

Mr. Hodge rushed past firefighters into the blazing inferno to save his computer.

superman-meme

Man dashes into house to save laptop, 2 completed novels from fire in New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood BY MATT SLEDGE

So all of this got me…

View original post 352 more words

New Blog Series Coming In October!

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Hello Readers!  This is a special S.M. Nystoriak’s Writer’s Block Announcement!

This October, I will be hosting a special blog series, featuring foods and recipes inspired by the novels we write. I am still coming up with a clever little title for it, but whatever the series title, this ought to be a lot of fun!

Each post in the series will feature an author, in their own words, discussing a food and/or recipe that somehow connects to their novel.  It’s been a lot of fun preparing for this, and I look forward sharing the series with you all.

I hope you will all tune in!

 

My Post-Conference High

 

lakeflywriters_logo

Greetings!

I just got home from a writer’s conference, and it was a good one.  I thought I might share some of the awesomeness with you all.  First, a little bit of background:

I heard about the Lakefly Literary conference in OshKosh, Wisconsin on Twitter a few months ago, when one of my good Twitter friends posted about it.  My thought at the time:  Sounds like fun!  I wish I could go!

Then I went online, and read about the lineup of workshops and presenters.  I admit that I was not familiar with the presenters.  They seemed to be local to Wisconsin, and here I am in Northern New York.  But the workshops seemed to be just what I needed, especially the one about making a marketing plan.  Also, the price point couldn’t be beat.  But the final thing that tipped the cart for me was the fact that several of my Twitter friends would be there, live and in person, and what an opportunity it would be to meet face to face.

So I booked my conference and flight to Wisconsin!

The Lakefly Literary Conference is still pretty young, only in its 4th year.  It is small enough for an out-of-stater like me to feel welcomed, yet offers enough of what I was looking for to really make it worthwhile.

Ruth Percey, who runs the OshKosh library, puts the event on along with several other folks, and they really went out of their way to make sure that the offerings met our needs.  By the end of the conference, she knew me by name! I left there with a great feeling of accomplishment.  Being able to meet and hang out with authors and publishers is a special thing.  There were many opportunities to browse books of all sorts, and even have them signed.  New friends were made, and folks I had only known in the Interwebs suddenly became real people.

So here I sit, in my Post Conference high.  I look forward to using the information I gathered at #Lakefly16.  Feels good!

Anyone else going to a writing conference?  Have you been to any good ones recently?  Feel free to share in the comments!

 

Spring Cleaning 2016

spring-tulips

Hello Readers!

This is the time of year that many people take to the broom closets and cleaning supplies as they rid their homes of a winter’s-worth of dirt and dust.  Yesterday, I spent Easter with the family and did a little bit of cleaning (not deep enough to be called “Spring Cleaning”, but it afforded me a change to take a look at many things I had accumulated.

Some of the things I found simply needed to be placed neatly away.  Others needed tossing, and still others, unfinished house projects which were at various stages of completion, needed to be places on a schedule for completion.  It feels good to go through that stuff and bring order to our crazy lives.

Cleaning and taking stock in these things also reminds me to take stock in my writerly life.  Last year, I spent a while looking through my old blog posts, and organize them into categories.  This year I find myself looking at my other writing output.  Like the clutter in my home, I discovered a few poetry pieces that needed to be categorized on my computer for easy access, unfinished  short stories and novels, some in the idea-gathering phase, which were put at the forefront of the to-be-done folder, and a few throw-away documents which needed to be cleared from my desktop.

I also glanced at my blog posting output, and while I am extremely pleased and gratified by the stuff we talk about on here, my posting schedule has been less than regular lately.  There is a reason for that…I’ll be clearing that all up really soon!

So in the meantime, I will be working on some unfinished projects trying to continue to clear away some of the writerly clutter.  I hope you all enjoy all of the joys that Spring can bring, and as you declutter, you find some gems!

Happy Spring!