A Sneak Preview

The Beginning of a Fairytale

Since I first began writing, the majority of my content has been in the non-fiction category. But there have also been moments of creativity when an idea sparked my imagination and a story began to unfold.

As I was cleaning out my office files, I found an old folder with several stories that I had started but never finished. One in particular caught my attention. It was only a basic one paragraph idea, not even to the outline stage, but it stuck in my head. So, over the weekend I took the idea and just let it loose.

This morning I decided to give a little preview of what I have so far. It is designed to be a short fictional story for kids and young teens.

This is the first chapter:

WISDOM’S CHILDREN

Once upon a time there was a beautiful fairy named Wisdom. She carried in her heart all the secrets and knowledge of life. But she lived in a world filled with darkness, pain, terror, and hate. Wisdom knew what was needed to bring light and goodness into the land of mankind, but every time she tried to help, she was rejected and ignored. Finally, with a heavy heart, she created a magical cloak that made her invisible and hid herself away from the world.

After many years of wandering, Wisdom found a new land. This new land had not been infected by the evil darkness, so Wisdom decided to make it her home. She spent centuries creating many beautiful and wondrous things, but she had no one to share them with.

From her loneliness, Wisdom gave birth to 4 children. To each child, she gave unique talents and abilities in order for them to survive the encroachment of the world of man, for she knew it was growing and would soon reach them.

To her firstborn son, Integrity, she gave the gift of honor and loyalty, to always do what was right and good, no matter what the cost.

To Courage, her second son, Wisdom gave the gift of a brave heart, always ready to face any danger or fear.

Wisdom gave her daughter, Hope, a huge heart filled with faith and dreams of glory. She also had a magical voice that sung straight into the heart.

And to her youngest daughter, Freedom, Wisdom gave the gift of unrestrained independence. Freedom did as she pleased, determined to fully enjoy all the goodness that life had to offer.

One day, when they were still young children, they stopped to rest by a stream after a long run through golden fields. As they sat quietly enjoying the cool breeze and listening to the sound of the water gently swirling over the smooth rocks, they heard a raspy voice behind them. As they turned to look, a large bear approached, hobbling on three legs.

He called to them, “Please, help me! My foot is broken, and it hurts so much”.

Integrity said, “We will help you. Lay down here beside us and let us see what we can do”.

Thankful for the offer, the great bear laid down his massive body with a thud and uttered a sigh of relief.

As Hope held the giant paw in her lap examining it, the bear said, “I was eating berries from the bushes over the mountain when a man appeared. I offered him some of the berries, for they were plentiful and very tasty. But he seemed angry, and instead began throwing long pointy sticks at me, so I ran away”.

After a long drink of water that Integrity brought in his hands, the bear continued. “The man chased me over the mountain and as I was running between the rocks, I stepped into a hole and my foot got caught. But the man was very close, and I was afraid. So, I pulled with all my strength to get free and as I did, I heard a loud crack and felt a sharp pain in my foot”.

The children had heard stories of man from their mother, but they had never seen one. Freedom asked the bear, “What does man look like”?

The bear replied, “I never saw one before today, but he looked much like you, except his eyes. His eyes were not kind and gentle like yours”.

Suddenly there was a strange noise, a high-pitched whirring sound. As they were turning to look, a long spear struck the ground right beside them. Then they saw the man. He was running toward them, yelling words they could not quite understand, but they knew he meant to harm the bear.

Without hesitation, Courage jumped to his feet, instinctively taking the spear in his hand. He stood in front of the bear and his sisters, as Integrity joined him.

The young boys were not sure what to do, but they knew they had to protect the bear. As the man came closer, still yelling, Courage raised the spear and shouted, “Stop” in a voice that came out like thunder. It surprised the man, and he did stop.

As he stood there looking at them, Integrity asked him, “Why are you trying to hurt this bear? What evil has he done to you”? The man replied, “It is a bear, it must be killed”.

Freedom stood and joined her brothers, saying, “It is not a crime to be a bear. He has done nothing wrong, and his life does not belong to you. Go away and live your life in your land”.

Courage pointed the spear at the man, and said, “I will not let you kill this bear, and if you do not leave, it is you that will die”.

There was something different about these children, though the man could not tell exactly what it was. But it frightened him. Knowing that he was outnumbered, he said angrily, “When you let down your guard, the bear will eat you. Then you’ll be sorry you didn’t let me kill it” and he turned to leave.

Then Hope spoke. It was the most beautiful and gentle voice the man had ever heard, almost like a sweet lullaby. She said, “The bear was trying to be your friend, even offering to share his breakfast of berries with you. I think you need to learn to love others”, to which Freedom interrupted with, “Even if they are different from you”.

And with that, the man left and the children took the bear home to Wisdom, so that she could heal him.

The man considered their words on the long journey home, and he could not shake the gnawing feeling in his heart. He could not understand why those children had helped the bear. But their words and actions were still in his head when he arrived at his village.

As he shared the story with his people, they listened in amazement, some believing, others laughing at his tale. It was a story that would be talked about for a long time to come. (End of chapter 1)

Well that’s it so far. What do you think? Any thoughts, or suggestions?

I always appreciate feedback (even the negative side…just be gentle), as it helps me to improve my writing skills. So I hope you’ll take a minute and leave a reply.

Thanks for reading! And have a Happy Monday. – Amber

Friday Fun #1

Writing For Fun

I’ve been working hard all week, and now my brain is feeling a little weary and fried. So, I decided to change things up a bit and just have some fun.

I think I’ll start with a little insight into my personal life.

One of my top favorite things to do in life is laugh, and sharing that laughter with others. In my youth I discovered storytelling as a way to inspire such cheeriness, though being labeled a class clown in school earned me no favor with my teachers.

It was in fact, that very same type of storytelling that started me on the path to being a writer 20 years ago.

It all started in an online chat room with me sharing something that one of my kids had done that made me laugh. Several folks gave smiley faces and “liked” it, and then someone asked me a question about kids. That sparked another story which also included one of our pets. From there, the stories and conversations grew and I began receiving quite a few suggestions to consider writing as a career.

So, that’s how I got started. Now onto the good stuff…

I Love Animals!

Currently there are 5 cats and a German Shepherd living in my cabin. (Actually it would be more accurate to say they own the place and just allow me to live here because I feed them and buy them toys.)

Allow me to introduce the crazy critters:

I’ll start with the German Shepherd, since there’s one in the photo above.

His name is Frodo Buggins (and for Lord of the Rings fans, no, that is not a misspelling). It is “Buggins” because he “bugs” everyone.

Frodo is a gorgeous (though slightly chunky) 5 year old. He is totally OCD about playing fetch or catch. It’s what he lives for!

He has the longest tongue I’ve ever seen in a dog, and it doesn’t seem to really fit into his mouth. Quite often his tongue just hangs loosely out of his mouth and sort of jiggles while he pants, flinging spit everywhere, especially right after he’s had a big drink of water. (I know, it’s one of the gross things about dogs.)

Typical of the German Shepherd breed, Frodo is exceptionally intelligent though he often exhibits a stubborn mentality that earned him the nick-name of “Jackass”, which he also now answers to.

Frodo and Spot

One of Frodo’s all-time favorite games to play is chasing the laser light. (The cats are pretty crazy about it as well, but not as zealously as Frodo!) It is absolutely hilarious watching an 80 pound ball of furry fury, bowling over anything in his path as he tries to catch the elusive little red dot. But because of his OCD nature and never wanting to quit, I had to set some boundaries, incorporated as part of the game.

First of all, I named the dot “Spot”. Frodo knows that Spot sleeps in the little pen in the drawer next to my chair, and he will stand there staring at the drawer, waiting for Spot to come out to play.

When I pull the laser pen out, Frodo becomes so tense and focused that at times I worry he will pop-a-gasket in his head and explode! In order to teach him some patience, I make him wait as I release Spot from the pen into my hand (and yes, I talk to it and say, “Hi Spot. Are you ready to play with Frodo?”) Then I “toss” Spot out onto the floor and the chaos and laughter begins.

Though Frodo is quite agile, it is still amazing to watch him try to make a full 90 degree angle turn at full speed. Such attempts have wrecked furniture (or anything else he plows into), and left a few bumps and bruises I’m sure, on his backside from the wipeouts. I’ve also had a few bruises from some of his less-than-graceful attempts at victory.

Once he has created or sustained enough damage, usually in about 10 – 15 minutes, I tell Frodo, “Okay, it’s time for Spot to go night-night”. He immediately stops and watches, as I put my hand down to the floor and Spot returns, and disappears back into his little pen. Frodo gives it a sniff and then rolls his eyes at me in discontent as I put the pen back in the drawer.

In addition to his intelligence and agility, Frodo has achieved mastery over the art of eye-rolling, head-tilts, and facial expressions. While he may not have the power of the human language, he still speaks to me. Sometimes it’s in the way of slinging insults or half-hearted threats at me, such as he is right now, sitting at the door of my office with a toy in his mouth and glaring at me. He is clearly telling me that it is time for our morning romp, and if I don’t go play with him, he will inflict some punishment on me, such as knocking over his water bowl or using one of the cats for a squeaky toy.

Since one of my many masters has spoken, I guess that will be it for today.

I hope the peek into my private world brought a little smile, and didn’t scare you off. Next week I’ll introduce the feline members of the clan. Perhaps I will dedicate Fridays to some light hearted humor if that would be okay. Let me know what you think in the comments, and please feel free to share your own stories too. I’d love to hear from you!

Have a happy, fun-filled, and blessed weekend! – Amber

P.S. To give credit where credit is due…the photo at the beginning of the post was shared by I Love German Shepherds page on Facebook.

Writers and Entrepreneurs

Can You Be Both?

The simple and honest answer is…YES, YOU CAN!

Becoming A Writer

One translation I found of what it means to write is, “To draw (letters or other forms of script) on a surface…”. This description suits me, as I like to say writing is, “Painting pictures with words”.

Writing comes in many forms. Whether it is a book, essay, article, newspaper column, statistical report, or lyrics for a song, it all involves the process of putting something down on paper, (or in this age of technology, into a computer) and it is usually intended to be shared with someone. (Even folks that keep private journals or diaries intend to “share” those words with themselves at some point in the future.)

The opportunities for a career in writing are numerous and varied. In an article from TradeSchools.net it lists 24 types of “jobs” for writers, along with a brief description of each. The site is primarily concerned with helping people to find schools or colleges that suit their area of interest. But I must admit (from a writer’s heart) I felt their mindset of a career in writing as an employee left a little thorn in my side.

I’ve had many jobs earning a paycheck for doing something that a boss told me to do. And I’ll be honest, I actually liked a few of them. At one point, I actually started 2 businesses (at the same time, which I would NOT recommend trying!) Though I liked the idea of being a business owner, both businesses were based on doing a “job” that I was not passionate about.

Even so, in the very core of my being, I wanted to create something of my own, to choose my own way of living, and to be able to share something of value with others. Eventually, this led me into the realm of becoming an Indie (Independent) Author. And this was where I found my passion. I discovered that I love to write!

The problem was figuring out how to create a career path to follow in this profession (and be successful). For many of us, it begins as a lonely journey through a lot of trial, error, and frustration.

The Scenario

In my mind I pictured myself as a writer, sitting at my desk and pecking away on the keyboard. I would finish my masterpiece and call my anxious agent, who would rush over and pick up the weighty envelope containing my soon-to-be best seller. The agent would waste no time in hand-delivering this envelope onto the desk of the publisher who would then shout for joy and rush it off to the printers. (I know, you’re probably roaring with laughter now, but wait, it gets better.)

Once this was done, it was time for a vacation. Perhaps lounging on a sunny beach at some tropical resort, or visiting the ancient ruins of Rome, or the castles of Scotland. Maybe I would be invited to dinner with the President. (Okay, even I’m laughing now.)

When I returned from my vacation, once again, I would sit at my desk, crafting the next best-seller while deciding how I would celebrate its success.

Talk about a fiction story! Statistically speaking, that scenario is about as likely to happen as winning the lottery. At least in the beginning.

In The Real World

In reality, agents and publishers are sometimes difficult to find, especially ones that are interested in your work, even when it’s a brilliant masterpiece.

The concept of Independent Author was just starting to gain in popularity when I first began writing, and still considered to be controversial. Many folks viewed it as “vanity publishing”, or said that the writing must not be any good if a publisher didn’t want it.

Thankfully, that attitude has now changed and the world of self-publishing has opened up many opportunities for the Indie Author.

Most Authors, whether traditional or independent, are aware that nowadays, authors are expected to participate in a majority of the marketing and publicity of their work. This is where the business aspect of being a writer comes in, and it is where most writers fail because they lack the skills to create a professional writing business.

There are many hats to wear in this profession and it will most likely require a lot of blood, sweat, and tears before success is achieved. It demands patience and perseverance, along with a strong passion and dedication to the work.

This is where you will have to decide is your writing going to be a hobby, or will you work as an employee writing for someone else? Or perhaps, like me, you choose to go full-speed-ahead as an Indie Author. If you choose the last one, let me introduce you to a different term…Author Entrepreneur.

What Is An Entrepreneur?

The simplest description of an entrepreneur is, “someone that creates, founds, or originates something, or a person who starts up a business venture and assumes the risk for it”.

Well, the first part of that description already sounds a lot like a writer doesn’t it?

As an Author-Entrepreneur, you are basically taking what you write and creating a business with it. What you write is going to be (most likely) your product, in other words, what you are going to sell. The entrepreneur side is more about how you are going to sell it, and this can be just as creative as the writing itself. There is no hard-set formula to this. But it does require some skill and knowledge, but if you are willing to invest in yourself and learn, you can do it.

When I first started, there was no such thing as a one-stop-shop to find all the resources I needed to learn. I found other Authors that were very generous and willing to share what they knew and did. But it was different with each one, though most were heavily focused on the marketing aspect.

So, I began learning about online marketing. I signed up under a few different “gurus” of the industry, each promising to teach me how to create my own wealth. After years of trying several different methods (and getting scammed by a few), I began to get the idea that the rules of marketing were not really tailored to the needs of writers. There were indeed some that had become successful, but it appeared to be as much luck as skill.

It seemed that the writers that found success were all doing different things from each other, while others following in their footsteps weren’t going anywhere.

It took some time to realize, there is a backbone of a formula for success here. But the really fun part is the ability to change it to suit you personally.

I began to wonder if it was possible to re-write the rules for marketing, to create new ones that would specifically benefit writers. After all, creating new ideas and implementing them are the basic foundation of what entrepreneurs do.

For me, one of the greatest freedoms was in recognizing that I don’t have to follow the advice of “never take no for an answer”, something every marketer and salesperson is taught from the very beginning. I’ve been on the other end of that too many times, and I simply don’t like pushy people. So, I certainly don’t want to be one. The way I look at it, if someone is not interested in what I write about, even if I manage to make a sale, they’re probably never going to read it. So, while it would be a sale, it would be an “empty” sale for me.

Instead, I would rather concentrate my efforts on producing quality work that has some kind of meaning or value, and then offer it to folks that are actually interested in reading it.

The Grand Finale (otherwise known as the conclusion)

In closing this post for today, first, I want to say THANK YOU for taking the time to read it!

As I said above, there is no place that I know of where you can find all the information needed to be successful in this business.

Not knowing where to look or even what exactly to look for was one of the most frustrating aspects for me. But I’m no quitter. Most of my family and friends will tell you I’m stubborn. When I set my mind to doing something, I will usually find a way to do it, even if it’s the hard (and sometimes wrong) way.

That is part of the reason I created this blog. It occurred to me that with everything I have gone through and learned over the years, perhaps I could make things a little easier and help others learn how to achieve their dream of writing too.

With that in mind, I invite you to subscribe to my email list to receive my monthly newsletter where I will be sharing useful tips and resources. (And yes, I’m in the process of producing a “how-to” e-book for writers that will be offered for free only to my subscribers.)

The newsletter is also where I will be sharing reviews and excerpts from books by other authors, in both fiction and non-fiction, along with some sneak-previews of my upcoming work.

So, if that is something that would interest you, I encourage you to go to the top menu and click the “sign up” button to access the form to subscribe.

Well, that’s it for today. As always, I would love to hear from you, so make sure to share your thoughts, ideas, questions in the reply section below. And don’t forget to share.

See you tomorrow! – Amber

The Stranger

A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.

As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God. Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening. He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.

The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’t seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up – while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places – and go to her room read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.

You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house – not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.

My dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in his home – not even for cooking. But the stranger felt he needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.

As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.

More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. But if I were to walk into my parents’ den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name? We always called him “TV”.

He has a sister now. Her name is “computer”, and a cousin named “cell phone”.

(Author Unknown, but seems to have appeared in circulation on the internet around 2007)

Just something to think about: What we allow to consume our minds also consumes our hearts. And from our hearts, our life flows. What’s flowing from you?

Words

When folks ask me what I do, I like to say, “I paint pictures with words”.

When I write, the words seem to flow from my heart (and a little from my brain) and spill out onto the pages without much effort. Once they are on the page, I can make revisions if needed to make sure the picture is clear and true, before anyone else sees it.

It’s when I open my mouth, however, and let the words fall out that I seem to end up in trouble. Unfortunately, once the words have left my lips, there is no turning back, no chance to erase them.

The phrase “think before you speak” comes to mind, and it is a wise saying. But thinking alone is not enough, for our thoughts are generated in the heart.

Many years ago, my heart painted some pretty ugly pictures (both written and spoken) because it was filled with darkness and anger and hatred. What was created was hurtful and destructive and worthless.

When I began a relationship with Jesus, He changed my heart. Instead of ugliness, I began to produce pictures of beauty, encouragement, and laughter. Those are the pictures that have value, and those are the ones that I want to share.

So, just a little food for thought as we go into the weekend…what kind of pictures are you going to paint? I hope they are ones of beauty.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday. – Amber

Why Am I Doing This?


It takes a certain amount of insanity to be a writer…

In the 1946 book “Confessions of a Story Writer” Paul Gallico wrote: 2

It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. If you do not believe in the characters or the story you are doing at that moment with all your mind, strength, and will, if you don’t feel joy and excitement while writing it, then you’re wasting good white paper, even if it sells, because there are other ways in which a writer can bring in the rent money besides writing bad or phony stories. (Gallico is perhaps best known for the novel “The Poseidon Adventure”.)

Whether it be truth or fiction, it requires a great deal of effort to paint a picture with words. If it is not done properly, the portrait becomes too cloudy for the mind of the reader to see.

I have always believed that the best writing comes from the heart, and it seems that many other writers agree. However, it is the never-ending urge to share the images and emotions that our hearts and minds create that drives the writer through impossible days and nights, with the endless flow of pictures and thoughts and ideas. It is enough to create an image of pure madness to the outside world.

But it takes more than just writing the words down.

Living with integrity…

When I started writing, I knew very little about the writing industry. In my mind I pictured myself pecking out words on the computer, then hitting the magic “send” button, and POOF… I would become a best-selling author.

I very quickly discovered, however, there is so much more involved.

Of all that I have learned over the last seventeen years, one thing stands out above everything else…be a person of integrity

In my quest to learn about the industry, it became quite obvious that the most successful authors and writers, the ones that really contribute something of value and interest to the world, are the ones that have a heart of integrity. These are the great men and women, the leaders dedicated to perfecting the craft with commitment to their audience, the ones that wouldn’t settle for less than the best for the sake of a dollar.

One key resource in my education came from Michael Hyatt, former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Throughout his career, one of his top priorities has been to establish and maintain a reputation for being a leader with integrity, which earned him my trust as a follower.

In the words of Mark Twain, “When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition it is important with whom you regularly associate. Hang out with friends who are like-minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives. Similarly, be that kind of a friend for others”.

 

My Promise…

One of the main reasons that I created this site is to be able to connect with others. I see an opportunity to establish friendships here (I hope you do too), along with building an audience that wants to share the journey of reading and writing with me.

I will not lie to you, I am not a best-selling author (yet, though I have published two books on Amazon). I am, and will continue to be, a work-in-progress. It is my goal and commitment to produce top quality writing for my readers, and to help other writers in their goals to becoming successful authors.

From time to time, I may share links and advertise a few products (primarily books) that I believe you will find helpful or entertaining. And while I may earn a small monetary gain from such links and advertisements, I guarantee that I will never promote anything that I do not read or use myself and find to be of value.

I hope that you will join me on this weird, whacky, and wonderful adventure! I also encourage you to sign up for my monthly newsletter where I will be sharing previews, excerpts of current work, news, and insights for readers and writers.

I also would love to hear your thoughts or comments, so please leave a reply. And don’t forget to share with your friends!

Until next time, go out into the world and #MakeADifference!

Amber

 

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