I hit an unexpected writer’s block this past year. I sort of lost my way and it had me really wondering what to do next with myself. I have always been a goal driven person who needed to be reaching for that next carrot in order to feel good about myself. Yes, I agree that may not be the healthiest way to live, but I guess it’s just how I’m wired. The other part of me is that I expect that dedication and hard work will more times than not – result in success. But it’s the definition of that word – success – that suddenly had me paralyzed, and more than a little uncertain of my writing future.
It all started three and a half years ago. After thirty-five years in education, I retired. I had loved being an elementary school principal and there were still a thousand stories, strategies and recommendations racing through my head. I wanted to share all that I had learned and decided to try writing parenting books. I poured out my heart and soul with strategies on bullying, homework issues, parent/teacher relationships and more.
Six books later I realized that I was getting bored talking about the same old stuff I had for the last thirty-five years. I needed to do something different. I took a chance, deciding to throw my hat into the world of fiction writing. And I had a blast creating my first fictional series The Witches Of New Moon Beach. I created a welcoming – albeit quirky, action packed world filled with witches, magic and love, all at the beach.
Although I was happy with how the series did, I guess I had hoped for more. After all, I felt like I had worked really hard, spending endless hours in front of my computer. Suddenly I was wondering what the “more” was that I was looking for? More sales..more exposure more…
A couple of my friends gently suggested that I might consider giving up. Why spend so much time if it wasn’t truly productive. “I mean are you even making any money?” one asked. Others said that I should give in to the fact that the e-book market may have shrunk. Maybe I’d missed my chance and I’d never make it big. Maybe I just wasn’t good enough. It left me considering, who was I to think that I might actually make it in this gigantic world of publishing?
It was my husband who caught me feeling down one day and said something rather life changing – Get Real! What the heck did that mean, I asked – not really wanting to know the answer.
Then he asked me four powerful questions.
1) Did I still have a passion for writing?
2) Was I having fun?
3) Had I done all that I could to improve my writing skills and publishing opportunities?
4) Was I really ready to throw in the towel and walk away from writing?
After dropping these atomic questions on me, he calmly reassured me that whatever my answers were – he’d still have my back.
I spent a lot of time thinking about his queries. And in the end, it was the answers to those questions that helped me to redefine my idea of success and happiness.
I do have a passion for writing. I love creating fictional worlds over which I have total artistic freedom and control. My mind is constantly spinning with new characters, themes and plot lines.
I love creating new characters. It’s fun. In fact, I wake up at night to jot down new ideas that just popped into my head while I was supposed to be sleeping. I carry around my Book O’ Names with me so that when I hear an unusual name I quickly jot it down for later use.
Ouch! No, I hadn’t done everything that I could to improve my writing skills. I listened to writer podcasts, read articles by other writers and secured new support software. I knew that I needed to do a better job editing my books. I’d been zinged for it in the past and recognized that it was one of the areas I could strengthen. I secured the help of a fab editor – Jenny Jensen. She has been a godsend and has made all of the difference in the world in helping me to tighten up my story lines and confirm correct grammar usage. Most importantly, I feel better about my work with her support.
Hell No! I am not ready to throw in the towel. I love writing and even though I still hit bumps in the road; writing makes me happy.
So what did I do with all these newly found answers? I put my head down, recognized that this was what I’m meant to be doing right now – and wrote. I reawakened by imagination and had fun creating a new story – one that I am ready to share with you.
Murder By Magic is my first cozy mystery and I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
And should you feel stuck along the way, you are more than welcome to borrow my husband’s four questions to get you headed in the right direction – right for you that is!
Oh, and thank you Paranormal Romance Writers Guild for giving me a 5 star review!
“This is a story about Monty Hall, the velvet-voiced, handsome host of Let’s Make a Deal. He passed away recently and it broke my heart because Monty Hall and I had a history.
I was a little depressed after I had my first baby and longing to get back to ‘the real world’ when I saw an ad: be a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal. Contestants were supposed to dress up as something funny but there was nothing funny about a postpartum mommy body so I went for the sympathy angle. I cut up a crib mobile made of fabric hearts, sewed the hearts onto a white hat and made a sign that said: HAVE A HEART, LET’S MAKE A DEAL. The neighbor watched the baby and I drove to Hollywood where two hundred people were lined up against a chain-linked fence outside the studio. They were dressed like alligators, killer clowns and French maids. I joined the fray just as a young producer trolled the line, pointing at people.
“You. You. You. That’s it for today. Come back another time.”
OMG! He didn’t pick me. There I was literally wearing my heart – okay, not on my sleeve – but all over me. I threw myself at him. I grabbed his sleeve. I begged.
“I NEEEEDDDDDD TO GET IN THAT STUDIO! I JUST HAD A BABY.”
He let me in.
Once inside, the producers advised us to make eye contact with Monty Hall. Check. No matter where he went my eyes bored into him. He itched, he freaked, he couldn’t figure out where the laser points of focus were coming from and he kept looking for the source. Then he saw me the crazy, desperate lady in the white hat with dancing hearts on it. I think he chose me just to make me stop glaring at him. I got all the way to the big deal and lost, but that was fine. My consolation prize was a two-week trip to the Bahamas and a thousand dollars. I went home happy. Monty Hall probably went home and had nightmares for weeks.
Fast-forward 32 years. Monty Hall is sitting behind my family and me in the theater. He is a little stooped, silver-haired, but still handsome. When my family goes to stretch their legs, I introduce myself and tell him the story that has become a legend in our family. He is gracious. He chats with me until the house lights dim. Before we take our seats, he asks:
“How old is the baby now?” As if on cue, my thirty-two-year-old son walked down the aisle. They shook hands. The house lights went down. We all watched the end of the play. I gave my son’s hand a squeeze. Life was good.
As if on cue, my thirty-year-old son walks down the aisle. They shake hands. The house lights go down. We watch the end of the play. I give my son’s hand a squeeze. Monty Hall walks out of the theater ahead of us and I never see him again.
The moral of the story is this: choose a door, any door but choose. What is behind that door will be exciting or surprising, charming or even challenging, but you will be better for turning the knob.
Monty Hall was behind two of my life’s doors. He made me feel lucky once and honored the second time. TY Monte Hall. I know that the door that opened for you not so long ago will be the biggest deal of all and you deserve that heavenly prize.
P.S. That is not me in the picture.
I love paths. We have one that goes to the field for our tractor, but the best ones are those I’ve made to my writing/meditation cabin, and the one I use to walk to the field. These two I’ve lined with rocks and as I stroll by I’m always amazed by the large roots that grow above ground. Different and yet so eye catching. It took a long while to clear the brush away, find and place the stones alongside, and then try to keep them clear enough to follow over the years.
Special attention paid to the little things on my land makes a huge difference to me. These are the points of life that mark my growth as I go forward. Time spent in nature with love and opportunity all encompassed into this one small three-acre-place that I call home.
God has given us a world full of hope for everything and everyone. We are all unfinished people, moving forward at the rate of speed we are meant to travel. And as we wander on our different paths, finding and following our own heart’s desires, let us take time to be thankful for what we have right now. It can all change in a moment, and then this opportunity will be behind us….
Sally Paradysz writes from a book-lined cabin in the woods beside the home she built from scratch. She is an ordained minister of the Assembly of the Word, founded in 1975. For two decades, she has provided spiritual counseling and ministerial assistance. Sally has completed undergraduate and graduate courses in business and journalism. She took courses at NOVA, and served as a hotline, hospital, and police interview volunteer in Bucks County, PA. She is definitely owned by her two Maine Coon cats, Kiva and Kodi.
Teddy bears cuddle.
Who is in more need of a cuddle than a writer staring at the empty page?
So on Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work and School Day, grab those wonderful teddies and sit them next to your computer. Then watch the words fly onto the page as they whisper into your ear. Helping you write that love scene with more oomph…or googling research for you.
But if your teddy bears are like mine, they don’t work for peanuts.
Nope. It’s got to be double lattes. Pumpkin spice and a salted caramel mocha.
Who am I to argue? I think I’ll join them…delicious.
PS — I’m working on a new Royals of Monterra Kindle Worlds for Christmas called Royal Noel.
Here’s a video with my current Monterra novels available on Amazon: