Blooded – Episode Two: What Evil Lurks

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to my Writing in Real Time serial novel experiment – this first story in the Realm Wraith Trilogy will unfold here on my blog in weekly episodes, and is yours to enjoy. Friendly discussion and thoughtful comments are welcome. Who knows – your ideas might just help shape the story as I write! If you’re joining us in progress, start with Episode One: Leap of Faith 

Warrior Elf Blooded

*

The crossing is quick, but excruciating.

The portal transports matter across the dimensional planes by compressing its mass into an energy stream. It’s a lot like shoving a spike through a pinhole. The cellular distortion is brutal. It would also be fatal, without the gossamer.

This second skin is better than magic. Besides making me mutable, the sheathing enables my body to morph in response to a whole host of external forces. It also gives my regenerative abilities a hypernatural boost, which can come in handy when one is out of her realm and all on her own. Most importantly, it has chameleon qualities which allow me to adapt to any alien environment. In the mortal realm I will appear to the most scrutinizing observer to be as human as any other inhabitant of this world, even though I am not human at all.

I land hard, coiled in a sprinter’s crouch beside the same kedge stone, but in an entirely distinct and separate reality. The same and yet totally different – just one of many paradoxes that transect the realms.

A sudden gut-wrenching convulsion throws me forward onto my hands and knees, and I hurl all over the pine needles and leafy dust that litters the forest floor. Nausea is a normal aftereffect of the crossing, but I am still mortified. Over two dozen training excursions and three covert ops missions in the human realm, and every time it’s the same. I should be able to hold it together better by now. I’ve never seen Violet puke.

I want to rinse the bad taste from my mouth. I need water. But first, I need to get my bearings. It takes a few deep breaths before I can force myself back on my haunches and get a look at my surroundings. The crossing key is still curled in my clutch, and I am quick to loop the lanyard back around my neck. This key is my lifeline, the only connection I have to my home realm. If it were lost, I could be stranded here and next to failing this mission, I have no greater fear. I will never let this key out of my reach.

The moon is high and gleaming bright white through the dense evergreen canopy of the Olympic National Forest. This time of year, the climate in the Pacific Northwest is ever changing – cloud covered and rain soaked one minute, crisp air and clear skies the next. The weather is working with me tonight.

We fae are not nocturnal beings by nature, not in our home realm, but it is easier to operate at night in the human dimension. Less chance of being detected, of course, but it is also easier to function when there is less noise – the static interference created by the frenetic energy discharges of daily mortal life. Preternatural beings are super sensitive to it.

While the moon and the stars make it easier to set a course, I don’t need them to navigate. Like all sylph, I have a hyper-developed sense of smell. EDL reconnaissance and recovery expeditions usually deploy an advance scout team, often a cross gender pair. A sylph’s olfactory abilities partnered with a satyr’s superior nocturnal vision make for highly accurate covert tracking. A kind of sensory GPS, I guess. But I have only myself to rely on this time.

Nose to the sky, I snuffle the scents on the damp night air. The salty smells of sand and sea creatures are mingled with the piney perfume of the evergreens. Beneath these pungent aromas, I catch the faint, distant tinge of satyr sign. It is unmistakably Auger’s. The scent is stale; days, maybe even weeks old, the lingering trail left by his last trip to this realm. Squad members are each assigned a monthly sector tour as a part of our regular duties, for reconnaissance mostly, but also to resupply the forward operations bevies. Sector Five is on Auger’s watch, and one of our support stations is nearby. This is my first checkpoint.

A warbling caw in the boughs overhead jump-starts my heart and sets my teeth on edge. I’m being watched. It was only a matter of time until my presence was detected, but I am surprised the sentinels have spotted me so soon.

They are everywhere here. Preternatural souls trapped in the form of a crow, banished from the Empyrean realm and condemned to eternal internment in the human world. The can only be released from this purgatory by the Empyrean being that cursed them, and if it should happen that a sentinel outlives their jailor, they are essentially damned for all eternity.

Some of the sentinels are ancient. By human measure, the preternatura appear immortal, though we can and do die. We have our vulnerabilities, but we are less susceptible to injury and illness, and our post-adolescent cellular degeneration progresses much more slowly than that of humans. Given the right circumstances, magical beings can live a long, long time – eons even. So when I say these earthbound souls are ancient, I’m talking centuries old, maybe even millennia.

It isn’t all bad; sentinels do have the freedom of flight. But they can never return to our dominion, and this is the cruelest of all fates. I truly cannot imagine anything worse than never being allowed to go home.

These disenfranchised spirits could be useful too, though not completely trusted. Beings without belonging lack the loyalty that naturally comes from a sense of solidarity with your own kind. This makes them mercenary, and prone to make alliances that serve their need to have purpose. They are not alone in this realm. Others among the preternatural races have been banished here, for crimes against the home realm. Still others have escaped here, looking to infiltrate human economic and political systems and manipulate them in order to create their own power bases.

Some of the more nefarious deserters are actually on the EDL’s most-wanted list and known known to use the sentinels as lookouts. The last thing I need is an off-mission confrontation with a fae fugitive who thinks I’m here to drag them back. I didn’t have the time. There is no way to know whether this fowl is friend or foe without getting up close and personal, so I decide to play it safe.

I burst out of my crouch, sprinting full-force for the heart of the nearest stand of trees. The sentinel has the advantage of moonlight and a birds-eye view but I have stealth on my side, and the camouflaging the gossamer sheath provides. I run low, slinking deeper into the forest undergrowth until I am fairly certain the sentinel has lost sight of me, and then cut a zigzag path all the way to the tree line on the other side of the forest.

By the time I reach the tree line, I am remembering standard infiltration procedure. Before entering the open, I throw a scatter charge to disguise any residual energy signature I might be sloughing. The charge is effective for a radial mile or more, enough to ensure I won’t be followed.

From the forest, I walk along an abandoned access road toward the checkpoint. My first objective is to collect some solid intel, but for that I need transportation. I also need some real protection from the elements. Gossamer is waterproof, but it isn’t much good in chilly weather. It isn’t exactly fashionable either, and I need to blend in with the mortals in their communities.

Auger’s scent leads me two miles west, to the tiny tourist town of Port Angeles and the lonely parking lot at the ferry dock. The town is tourist driven, nearly derelict in the off-season, and all but abandoned at night. The perfect staging area – within easy reach of the kedge stone, and populated enough to provide cover and the means to secure any basic supplies the team might need.

The ferry-runs to and from Victoria are suspended until later in the spring. I won’t have to worry much about avoiding chance encounters. Then again, if I wander around in the open too long I risk drawing the suspicion of local law enforcement. I need wheels to get myself inland. There’s a lot of ground to cover between Port Angeles and the Emerald City, and not a lot of time.

Three vehicles are parked in the lot – a road-weary jeep, a tricked-out newer model crew cab pickup, and a powder-blue vintage replica roadster convertible. The truck and convertible likely belonged to locals or tourists, but the jeep is an EDL stash vehicle.

Stowed in the rear compartment of the jeep is a small supply of bottled water and a duffle stuffed with a selection of coverings and foot gear to suit the varying seasonal climates of this realm. Underneath the compartment decking is an emergency munitions cache, in case any of us run into serious trouble. But for now, all I need is the water, and a little extra protection from the elements.

An unlined black canvas trench coat and black jump boots appeal to me, partially for the added layers but also because they give off a particular vibe. I like black. The gossamer bodysuit and tactical vest are organically mimetic and automatically adapt to match the coat. The total look is a bit too dark and edgy out here in the sticks, but once I get to the city no one will even look twice. But before I drive all the way to Seattle, I have a stop to make.

Continue reading

Blooded – Episode One: Leap of Faith

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Welcome to my Writing in Real Time serial novel experiment – this first story in the Realm Wraith Trilogy will unfold here on my blog in weekly episodes, and is yours to enjoy. Friendly discussion and thoughtful comments are welcome. Who knows – your ideas might just help shape the story as I write!

***

Warrior Elf Blooded

There’s a thin line between love and hate, and an even thinner veil between this realm and the next. Both are about to be blown to oblivion…

The Empyrean Defense is the faerie realm’s best defense against the human race and its self-propelled trajectory toward annihilation. If humans ever succeed in destroying their own dominion, they’ll take the faerie world out along with it. But the EDL is not about to let that happen.

Cadet Bliss Hoarfrost is an over-achiever with daddy issues and a chip on her shoulder, but she’s also the best agent for the job. Any job. Just one mission away from a coveted commission in the EDL’s uber-elite Realm Wraith Squadron, Bliss will stop at nothing to get the gig. But when she’s given the assignment that will make or break her career, she discovers the price of success just might be her soul.

Assigned to track down a once trusted EDL operative turned eco-terrorist, Bliss is ordered to infiltrate the human realm and hunt down the rogue before she unleashes a weapon that could unmake both worlds. It’s a do-or-die mission and Bliss is more than up to the challenge. There’s just one minor hitch – the rogue Bliss is after is also her sister.

With only 48 hours to complete the mission and earn her commission, Bliss soon discovers she isn’t the only hunter on the trail. The truth behind her sister’s defection is far more complicated than she has been led to believe and Bliss finds herself stranded and almost out of options. Reinforcements are on the way, but it could already be too late. An eons-old blind seer and a hot-but-morally-conflicted half human double agent are all she’s got until real help arrives, but the conspiracy Bliss has uncovered might be more than even the Realm Wraiths can handle.

Continue reading

Marketing Monday: Measurable Results

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

A measurable result is one of the touchstones of any successful marketing campaign. But how do you define it? Most folks look at number trends before, during and after a promotion and look for an uptick in sales. Metrics are an obvious measurement of whether or not our marketing efforts (and investment) have paid off. But, they are not the only yardstick of success.

Increasing your sales, and ultimately your bottom line, is the prime objective. However, specific marketing efforts rarely correspond directly to an increase in units sold. A lack of a sales spike, however, does not necessarily mean your ad plan has failed. There is more than one way to measure success. For example:

Increased Visibility in the marketplace – every campaign or promo you run will at the very least garner you attention. Most of the people who see a sponsored post, tweet or Instagram ad respond impulsively to the concept if it interests or appeals to them. They will “like” your promo, but don’t click through to purchase. They aren’t actually shopping. But that doesn’t mean you didn’t make an impact. The hope here is that when they are looking to buy, they’ll remember you. There are sales conversion formulas that calculate how many impressions (number of times someone sees your ad) it takes to convert a sale. It varies, but every person who notices you gets you one click closer to that purchase. In  the long run, how many “likes” you get matters.

Audience Capture is just a sexy term for saying followers or fans, and is another important measurable result. These are folks who aren’t yet ready to buy, but have more than just a passing interest in what you have to offer. They take the extra step of connecting with you – becoming a fan of your FB page, following your blog or Twitter or Instagram account – in order to keep you and your offerings in their que for later reference.

Referrals (or “shares”) are also a powerful measure of a successful ad or promotion. It’s harder to track these results directly because there’s no way to follow the sale back to the source, but every time someone retweets your Tweet or shares you FB ad or blog post, you are reaching a new potential market you had no way of reaching otherwise. It’s essentially free advertising, and should be counted as a win.

The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to evaluating your marketing plan is to expect a dollar for dollar return on your investment. Factor the long term payoffs from increased visibility, audience capture, and referrals into the equation. In other words, don’t sell yourself short. Building a customer base or audience takes consistent effort over time. And remember, sales metrics are not the only measurable result that matters.

 

The Week in Review

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

A return to some forgotten routines this week, including everyday writing. I might not have managed much in the way of word count, but I kept my pledge to myself and spent time with my work in progress each day. It was good to get reacquainted with the story and I even found some new inspiration.

I also completed my Marketing Monday task list, and put the finishing touches on an exciting new blog feature for readers that will launch next week.

You writers out there should also check out the FB page for my sister project, Lit Chicks Editorial. for resources, contest announcements, and calls for submissions. We also offer editorial services for fiction writers working toward publication.

That’s this week in review. See you all next week on Marketing Monday!

Marketing Monday: #WriterProblems

Tags

, , , , , , ,

One of the things I struggle with most as a writer is consistency. Creative people have ideas, lots of them, all the time. If you are of the goal oriented ilk, mustering the discipline to stay on task and see each one through to a timely conclusion comes easy to you. If you’re like me, and you’re of the passionate-about-process persuasion, not so much. I tend to follow inspiration from idea to idea, herding my many projects like sheep along a meandering road at their own pace. Some of them get lost along the way. Others die from neglect, and sadly, precious few reach the end of the process path.

After many MANY failed attempts at regimenting my work day with accountability tools and word count goals and self-imposed deadlines, I have come to accept my creative wanderlust as less an affliction to be cured and more an attribute to be better utilized. We all need structure and context, just like our stories, but we also need to let the muse lead now and then.

I don’t mind boundaries, but I don’t like fences. So, to keep myself from jumping the rails, I have decided to pencil some loose parameters around my writing week. Today, I’m going to kick things off by resurrecting Marketing Mondays – a blog column I abandoned quite some time ago for no good reason. To bookend that feature, I’ll be returning with the Week in Review post on Fridays.

Marketing Monday is all about shameless self-promotion. Each Monday, I am going to do my level best to accomplish a short-list of marketing tasks. To be effective, and manageable in the long run, these tasks should be specific, actionable and have measurable results.

Here’s the list for today:

  • Promote Amazon SFF Summer Reads sale (featuring my books) via social media
  • Update blog with promo post and refreshed Marketing Monday feature
  • Activate FB ad

What about you? Do you do Marketing Monday, or do you have a different strategy for promotion? I’d love to hear your ideas – goddess knows I need the help!

So far I’ve completed two of those three tasks for this Marketing Monday, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I should have that third bullet checked off by the end of the day. My “to do” list for the rest of the week is pretty long, and I’ll let you know how it goes on Friday, with my next Week in Review post. See you then!

Books on Sale (for a limited time)!

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Through July 31st, both books in The Dream Stewards Series are specially priced. If you’re a fan of quasi-historical epic fantasy, there’s never been a better time to give these stories a try. Get the first book in the series, THE WELL OF TEARS, for $1.99 and then pick up THE KEYS TO THE REALMS for just $ .99 – click the image to go to my Amazon author page and get both books at the best price ever!

 

 

Skill Building Workshops for the Determined Writer (Seattle Area)

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I’ll be hosting a series of single session focused workshops with my long-time writing/publishing friends and colleagues Jennifer McCord and Scott Driscoll. For more information, or to register, contact me via email at info@robertatrahan.com –

Seattle Area Writer Friends!

Are you a fiction writer envisioning publication and struggling to make sense of editorial notes or reader feedback? Hearing that your story lacks a sense of urgency, a call to action, or that it falls a bit flat? That your main characters are unlikable or uninteresting? Not sure how to turn things around? We can help.

It’s all about story. Publishing and readers expect more from writers than ever before. Every writer must carefully consider how they are inviting the reader into their novel, and then deliver an experience that hooks them and doesn’t let go. There are no secret keys to success, but there are some skill sets you can hone to get your book on track.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest differences. Feedback is essential, but it can also be difficult to know how or where to start. Rewrites and revisions don’t necessarily mean a major overhaul of your book. Often all that’s needed is a closer look at one or two critical story elements, such as impact, pacing, or character motivation.

Knowing what those areas are is one thing – figuring out how to work around them is another. Ready to tackle the tough job of addressing agent/editor notes or early reader response? We are now offering a series of single focus workshops that address some of the most common trouble spots in any manuscript:

The Inciting Incident: A successful novel opens with a “hook” – a call to action or specific event that launches the protagonist into the central conflict that propels the plot. In this session, you will learn how to identify, assess and refine the inciting incident in your story to create a stronger sense of urgency and ramp up the tension from the very first scene.

Next Session: January 29, 2017 / 7-9:30 pm

The Desire Quest: Once an inciting event throws the protagonist’s everyday world into chaos, how he or she responds becomes the foundation of the plot. But what is it that drives the protagonist to accept the challenge? In this session, we’ll delve into the complex traits that define a multi-dimensional protagonist who is not only capable of carrying weight of the story, but also of fulfilling your reader’s expectations.

Next Session: February 12, 2017 / 7-9:30 pm

The Point of No Return: Plot is essentially a sequence of events that confront a protagonist with obstacles they must overcome in order for the story to move toward its climax. How these obstacles are presented determines a novel’s pace and should naturally create the escalating tension that keeps readers captivated. This workshop will help you analyze and assess your book’s major plot points and the protagonist’s progression toward the story’s proverbial point of no return.

Next Session: March 19, 2017 / 7-9:30 pm

Reserve your space today!

  • Affordable Customized Instruction & Support – Attend only the workshop/workshops you need – sign up for individual sessions or all three at a special discounted rate.*
  • Small Groups Sessions: Class size is limited to 7 student to allow for more in-depth presentation of the course material
  • Proven Techniques & Tools: Developed specifically to meet the expectations of today’s publishing world
  • Professional Teaching Team: Work closely with three respected publishing industry professionals, experienced instructors and published writers.

The fee for each individual workshop session is $125.00. Space is limited and offered on a first come/first served basis. Workshops will be hosted at a private North Seattle area residence (address provided upon registration).

 Register now and receive an early-bird enrollment discount or purchase all three sessions at a special package price of $300.00. 

About the Instructors: 

Scott Driscoll is an award-winning instructor with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, has taught creative writing for the University of Washington Extension for twenty years and makes his living as a freelance writer and teacher. Scott’s debut novel, BETTER YOU GO HOME (Coffeetown Press 2013) was selected as the Foreword Reviews First Book Contest winner, March 2014. Scott has also been awarded nine Society of Professional Journalists awards, most recently First Place in the Western U.S. in 2014 for arts and entertainment reporting. For more about Scott, visit www.scottdriscollwriting.com

Jennifer McCord is a 30 year veteran of the publishing trade. Throughout her career, Jennifer has worked in nearly every aspect of the industry—as a writer, editor, instructor, and consultant. Jennifer lends her expertise in the book business to writers and publishers through her consulting and coaching business, Jennifer McCord Associates. Currently, she is also an Associate Publisher for Camel Press and Coffeetown Press. Jennifer can be contacted at www.jennifermccord.com

Roberta Trahan is the best-selling author of THE WELL OF TEARS and THE KEYS TO THE REALMS, the first two books in her quasi-historical epic fantasy series from 47North. Her post-apocalyptic science fiction novella AFTERSHOCK is also available through Amazon Publishing’s digital-first short fiction imprint, StoryFront. She is also a frequent guest at SFF fan conventions and writing events. For more about Roberta, visit www.robertatrahan.com.

 

Practicing Objectivity – A (Very) Liberal Discourse on How to Think For Yourself

Tags

, , , , , , ,

“There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.” (Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224)

I am proud of my liberal arts education. As much as it prepared me for life as a professional communicator, it also prepared me for adulthood in ways many other people never get the chance to experience. A liberal arts education doesn’t just produce teachers and journalists and historians and scholars, it produces thinkers.

As a student of the arts, I was introduced to a vast array of social, political, historical, cultural, philosophical and theological perspectives. I was expected to examine opposing schools of thought and expose myself to disparate experiences across the whole of human existence. I was required to acknowledge my limited understanding and reach beyond it, to explore outside myself. These lessons translated to life skills, and I was made better for the objectivity that my university education instilled in me. Who wouldn’t be?

The liberal arts approach to learning helped me to develop a willingness to question and challenge my personal perceptions. I discovered that by framing my beliefs and values with a scope much wider than my individual view would ever allow, whatever my conclusions might be, they are informed by the cumulative wealth of fact, historical record, and the collective experience of the greater world, not just one thin slice of it. The result is a justifiable and defensible confidence in my own convictions.

I think most everyone believes they are already engaging in this kind of analysis. Maybe they are, but my experience is that while people generally believe they are regularly exercising their critical thinking muscles, in actuality, they are not. Let’s be honest. If they were, our society would not be in the muck it is today. Sadly, too many have succumbed to the persistent and perpetually self-sustained illusion that our virtual inter-connectivity keeps us informed and involved. But the reality is we really aren’t as connected as we think we are – not to each other, or the big issues that matter to our well-being.

Social media allows people to feel engaged without having to show up, do the work, or give any of it much thought. It encourages reflexive responses. We are too quick to take Talking Heads at face value (especially the orange one), or maybe we don’t, but then neither do we hold them accountable for what they say – even when they lie. Somehow information and propaganda have become indistinguishable from each other, and hard facts are now fluid. We invest our funds and our faith in whoever tells us what we most want to hear, no matter what the real outcome might be.

But that’s not how things work in a functioning republic, at least not for long. Eventually the consequences of abdicating our duty to make informed decisions catches up to us. And yet, even when the consequences are inescapably dire, too many of us are still willing to be blindly led rather than look directly at the facts, draw independent conclusions, and act accordingly. And apparently, given recent election results, we’re okay with that. Except that some of us aren’t.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that I am incapable of turning a blind eye to anything. Believe me, I’ve tried. But in the end I came to accept that how I walk and talk in this world matters. I believe that I am accountable to and for others, and I strive to conduct myself with that thought first and foremost in my mind. To do that, I practice objectivity in my daily life, the same way others practice spiritual or religious tenets. For some of us, objectivity is a core value.

Objectivity is not a state of being or a quality of character. It is not tolerance or neutrality or acceptance. Objectivity is, simply put, a method for evaluating everything you encounter – people, places, ideas, information and events – without bias or prejudgment. It is exhausting, exasperating, and often overwhelming. But it is the only path to truth.

Becoming a critical thinker is only one of the many civic duties in a democratic society, though it might be the most important. Do you practice objectivity? Everyone should, often if not always. If you do, some or all of the steps on my personal checklist will sound familiar. If not, you might want to give some or all of them a try.

A 7-Step Guide to Critical Thinking:

  • Seek first to understand – not just to validate your preconceptions and prove yourself right.
  • Gather all of the available data, not only the information you’re comfortable with or that which is easily found.
  • Challenge the veracity of your sources, no matter how tried and trusted they are.
  • Do the tough work of separating fact from opinion and acknowledge the truth of things, even when that truth contradicts what you already believe. Especially then.
  • When your conclusions don’t align with those of people you generally respect, wonder why. Re-examine your point of view before dismissing someone else’s.
  • Weigh what you learn against what you know, but keep your finger off the scales. Let them tip on their own. One side will usually outweigh the other.
  • Then and only then, make up your mind. Whatever course of action you follow from there depends upon what you hope to gain, but at least you’ll know what you’re getting yourself, and others, into.

It’s time for everyone to show up, do the work, and give everything some real thought. Use my guide, or create your own. Share it. Challenge people to follow your lead. Hold yourself and others accountable for the decisions they make and the actions they take. THAT’S how we make America great again.

Baking My Way Through Writer’s Block

Tags

, , , , , ,

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Really. Creativity is not a constant, pressurized flow one can stem with a spigot and turn on and off at will. Creativity doesn’t stream. It doesn’t back up like a clogged drain, just begging for release.

Creativity seeps. It burbles. It oozes. It seeks its own path. Creativity is always on its way, but it takes its own sweet time.  Sometimes, you just have to wait it out.

The thing is, I’m not so good at the waiting. When the ideas aren’t coming, I get anxious and try to force the story. I hear the silent judging of the Word Count Gods and the not so silent nagging of my inner critic, who already knows I am a fraud and have no business whatsoever calling myself a writer.

That’s when the stress eating starts, which is what I do to stave off the day drinking and hypercaffeination. But when I can’t find anything sufficiently sweet and self-destructive in the house to munch, it’s time to bake.

One of my favorites, especially this time of year, is my mom’s banana bread. It’s quick, easy, and just decadent enough to distract me from my writing demons – at least for the better part of an afternoon. Here’s the recipe, in case you want to give it a try:

Joanne’s Brown Sugar Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup dark brown sugar (the light kind will do if you don’t have the dark on hand)
2 large eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas (the riper the better), mashed
A pinch each of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Ginger (or a big dash of All Spice)*

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly grease 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  3. In large bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
  4. In separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.
  5. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended.
  6. Fold banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.
  9. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

14671367_10208901292621955_2778999232885557572_n

 

*To make this yummy bread even yummier, try throwing in some extra flavor shots – nuts, dates, orange extract, whatever you have in the pantry. My favorites are chocolate chips and chopped macadamia nuts.

 

 

 

 

If at First You Don’t Succeed – Try, try Again (aka Fall Down 9 Times, Get Up 10)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

world-within-a-worldI look forward to the Fall season every year. For me, this is the time of year when I feel most inspired to invest in new ideas or make a new start. A sort of anxious, anticipatory energy bubbles up and spurs me to take big risks. The momentum usually carries over into the new year, and then, often fizzles out.

Sometimes there are just too many obstacles and I don’t have the resources – emotional, physical, spiritual, creative, or financial – to keep running over or around them. Sometimes life events create a fork in the road and the bypass takes me so far off the original path I never find my way back.

And yet, every year, I start again. That’s the definition of crazy, right – doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results? Yeah, well, we creative types be crazy.

They autumn-crossroadssay that writers fall into on of two categories when it comes to goal setting – those who are results oriented, and those who are process oriented. Results oriented folks derive their sense of satisfaction from completion.

They are focused on outcome, and can produce a sizable body of work. But, while they always finish a project, they sometimes do so at the expense of the process. Sometimes, the work they produce lacks quality or isn’t as rich in detail as it could be.

Process oriented folks are focused on the task and glean great joy from the act of creation itself. They tend to produce less, but their results are generally richer in content. Although the autumn-writingwork tends to be layered with nuance and is often highly polished, process oriented writers struggle with bringing a project full circle. They tend to get caught up relishing the scene and have a hard time finishing the story.

It has taken me years to own it, but I am a process oriented writer. I get so excited by the prospect of a new idea that I have a hard time keeping my head in the project that is already on the table. I get lost in the rituals of writing. I love research and plotting, and imagining the possibilities. Basically, I get in my own way.

So, this fall season, I am going to throw myself into the process like I always do, but this time see all my new endeavors through to the end – whatever the outcome may be. I’m feeding all my muses this year and I’ve got a lot of projects on the board – a new side business at Lit Chicks Editorial, a new online venture called Idyll Curiosities that resells vintage jewelry, and at least 3 new books to complete. I’m really stretching my limits here.

you-should-be-writing-nanowrimo

One of the things I need to do is figure out how to get more words out of my head and onto the page. So this year, for the first time ever, I’m going to take the 2016 NaNoWriMo challenge. Anyone with me? Have you done it before? I’d be interested in hearing how it worked out for you.

So, how many of you are results oriented writers? How many of you are process oriented? Have you figured out how to strike a balance between the two?  I’d love to know.