I am Grateful

I haven’t written a blog post like this one in awhile. A recent Facebook status update on my book page reminded me of just how grateful I am to be able to write, to have books contracted with a publisher, to have people buying those books and leaving reviews. I’m still at the start of my writing journey, by no means an expert or long in the publishing world, but I can’t help but be thankful for the strides I’ve been allowed to make.

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Because it is tough. Like anything worthwhile doing and having is. It doesn’t come easy. And I’m so grateful to be able to have this outlet and write the stories I like to write. To form part of the romance community. To feel liberated enough to say I am a romance author and even if people judge that, to still not care *laugh* because romance writers are AWESOME! *smiles*

I’m grateful for the people who’ve encouraged me and shaped me on this journey. I’m grateful for the countless writing advice gurus who give their advice for free on the inter-webs through articles and video tutorials, for all the authors who write on their blogs about what they’ve learned and who share that knowledge, and also for writing groups on social media…groups who are accessible, open and do not discriminate for whatever reason…you are amazing. And you help people like me who live in a small town, in a third world country, who don’t have a clue on how to approach her dream of becoming a published romance author. It’s really amazing how many willing people are out there, sharing what they know without expecting anything in return. I’m awed. I’m grateful. I’m thankful and am working on paying it forward.

And to my readers (all three of you…Hey Mom! *laughs*), you inspire me, push me and always make me want to give more than a 100% with every story I write. Your support humbles me. My latest book have placed me in front of readers who didn’t know who I was until they picked up my book as part of the Black Hills Wolves series and I’m grateful for you because you gave an unknown to you author a chance. Thank you.

It’s humbling when you think that there are so many people all over the world who do not get to live out their passion. Who do not have the freedom to venture into any career path. For many years South Africa was that type of country. Recently my mother again reminded me on just how tough it was when she was in high school. The then Apartheid government would literally come to Coloured and Black schools and tell students that they couldn’t study certain subjects at grade 11 level. Usually those subjects would be Mathematics, Accountancy, Physical Science and Biology…they didn’t want doctors, lawyers, accountants to come from Coloured and Black groups. In fact there was a quota placed on how many could be allowed into those types of university courses each year. Imagine you’ve spent years doing Mathematics only to be told you couldn’t take it again in grade 12 because you, according to a rigged system, didn’t qualify? And guess what, having a B in those subjects disqualified you. *snorts* Yeah, I also didn’t get straight A’s.

According to the Apartheid government I would be as dumb as a doornail.

I am grateful that I get to do what I do. That I live in a time in the world’s history where as a person of color I can write the stories I like and have people from every ethnicity enjoy them *smile*

And as strange as this sounds, I want to say thank you for all the ‘likes’, the reviews, ‘shares’, ‘follows’, ‘subscribing to my blog’, buying my books, ‘liking my book page’, having me on your blogs, tweeting, and generally coming along with me on my writing journey.

I still have a way to go, but I’m truly grateful for what the journey so far has taught me and how much support I’ve received.

#HappyWriting I know I am because of you.*smile*

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Buy Links:

Amazon: Kindle Store https://t.co/gipdx4OYiZ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/za/en/ebook/the-wolf-s-choice

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/711816

 

Like my Facebook Page: Books by Inge Saunders: http://bit.ly/1defI54

And I’m also on

Twitter: @saunders_inge

Instagram: @ingesaunders

 

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On Novel: My Writing Process with JC Layne

On Novel: My Writing Process

By

Author JC Layne

 

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You know that quote from a poem by Robert Burns that says, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?” For me, this quote says it all!

The following diagram explains my writing process:

JC High Level Writing Process

Usually, the story comes first and then the characters develop as I write. The story may begin as a passing thought or idea and then it grows; i.e. I knew a production studio could be a wonderful setting for character interaction. Don’t be surprised if some characters take on a bigger role than planned!

I start with a high level outline of the story line, jotting down ideas like major scenes, ideas or events that I want to happen in the story. I don’t use any specific structure when I write, I’ve found that everything flows better if the story organically develops. I’m very left-brained about things and if I have a strict outline, I feel like I have to force the story into that box. The result SUCKS!

My characters guide my story to where they want it to go. None of my books have ended up like I expected. Initially, I fought where the characters were taking me when writing Perfect Timing, but ultimately, they won out. That book and Missing a Beat turned out much darker than I intended. Parts were difficult to write, but I think the stories ended up better than my original ideas!

I like readers to know characters’ quirks, humor, their habits, etc. Most start with a blank slate, but for certain characters, I may have a strong idea of what they will look like. For instance, Mitch in my Back on Track series looks like a particular musician that I love.

I keep a list of all characters and their details. Physical attributes like hair color, eye color, height, etc. Then, other attributes like nervous habits, laugh, facial expressions. Finally, anything I’ve mentioned like parents’ names, birth dates, ages. I learned the hard way that not keeping track as I go causes a lot of wasted time to find details.

People ask if there are specific places or times when I write or if I have rituals or quirks. I write when the creative juices are flowing, whether that’s at lunch on my day job or in the evenings. Some days, I couldn’t write a sentence if I had to. I just walk away, rather than get frustrated. When I write, I do talk to my characters…and yes, they talk back. So, either I’m not very stable, or my characters are pains in the ass!

Advice for new writers:

  • Don’t force anything, let your imagination work.
  • If you’re blocked, walk away, then come back to it. Again, don’t force it.
  • Just get it down on paper! Don’t leave it in your head. Getting something down is better than forgetting the idea. It doesn’t have to be good…it just has to be captured.
  • Pay the money to have your work edited. Not just read through, but edited. You’ve put your heart and soul into it…let it be correct. Books that have typos and grammar issues detract from the story. There are some reasonably priced editors out there. (If you need an editor, please shoot me an email and I’ll give you my editor’s info.)
  • Find a great cover artist! Covers are the first things the reader sees. (If you need a cover artist, shoot me an email and I’ll give you the info for mine.)

 

I am an indie author. I haven’t ventured into the world of publishing companies, sadly because I’ve heard so many horror stories. Perhaps one day I’ll give that a try, but right now, I’ll stay self-published. Whatever you choose, be true to yourself. This is your baby…don’t forget that.

 

Feel free to message me on Facebook or email me if you have questions. Good luck on your future venture! Kick ass!!!

 

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Author Bio:

J.C. Layne is a relatively new author with three books under her belt so far. A bit of an author conundrum, she has a very left-brained degree from the University of South Carolina and spends her days swimming around in numbers. But, her right brain demands to be heard…and now it is! For 12 years, J.C. has interviewed bands and written articles and CD reviews for various music publications. Her love and knowledge of music combined with her love of books led her to write fiction about hot rock stars and falling in love.

 

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Buy links:

https://www.amazon.com/Face-Crowd-J-C-Layne-ebook/dp/B0743LHK7T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504721354&sr=8-1&keywords=jc+layne%27

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35914392-face-in-the-crowd?from_search=true

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=j.c.+layne

Website/blog:

www.authorjclayne.com

Social media handles:

www.facebook.com/authorjclayne

www.twitter.com/authorjclayne

www.facebook.com/jclayne

 

*Thank you Jennifer, I really enjoyed reading your article. There are real diamonds for any author, aspiring or published.

On Novel: My Writing Process with Brenda Kuchinsky

On Novel: My Writing Process

BY:  Brenda Kuchinsky, Author and Clinical Psychologist

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I don’t outline and I don’t plan anything formally.  I start off with a kernel of an idea, revolving around a character.  Then I daydream and dream quite a bit which helps other characters emerge as well as plot lines.

I have to say that I began to meditate successfully in 2013, using the Transcendental Meditation ™ technique.  I had never been successful at meditation before.  This worked for me, doing it at home for twenty minutes twice a day with my own private mantra.  I am convinced, in retrospect, that meditation led me to writing for the first time since high school.  Several careers and postgraduate work in several fields as well as two husbands intervened.  Also, I think low self-esteem and shaky confidence, despite numerous successes in other areas, held me back both consciously and unconsciously.

I now meditate before I start writing.  I first hit upon this as a productive method accidentally when I became seriously stuck and bored with one of my characters in a scene where he travelled away from home to Key West.  I decided to take a writing break and meditate.  Rich imagery rose up unbidden and a second character stood before me, solving my problem and lending incredible depth and suspense to the story.  That’s when I realized that I probably wouldn’t have started my novel if it were not for meditation.  Serendipitous, right?

I write in one spot only.  On the corner of my yellow leather couch with my feet up on the coffee table and my IPhone by my side for instant research, word definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and inspiring pictures.  I had a Lenovo yoga laptop up until last month when I bought my first MAC, which I had been lusting after for quite some time.

So, I’m free form mostly and write an outline about halfway through a book when the characters and plotlines are at the bursting point and I need to organize.  I’m very character driven.  Character comes first and the plot lines devolve from that.  I also read that way.  Plot driven novels with cardboard characters bore me, no matter how great the plot. I’m writing the third book in a series, Time’s Haunted, so the same characters keep popping up. However, there are several intriguing new characters.  Sophia, the protagonist, also travels and in this one she goes to Buenos Aires.

I’d love to hear from people.  Happy writing and reading.

Times Harlot Brenda

Website: brendakuchinsky.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/brenda kuchinsky

TW: https://www.Brenda Kuchinsky @yogabrenda

Books available from the website and also Amazon.  Latest: Time’s Harlot: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072KKL3YJ

Check out Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Brenda-Kuchinsky/e/B01KM69002 for Bio and blogs, etc.

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On Novel: My Writing Process with Elaine Dodge

I love reading about another author’s writing process. Not only does it make me feel sane (because sometimes there are some weird things I do while writing) but I also gain useful tips that help in how I approach some of my writing projects. On Novel: My Writing Process is a writing tips series I’m going to be running throughout August, September and October with guest posts from authors sharing their experience. If you’re a novice the series will definitely benefit you. So without further introduction, here’s the first guest post from Elaine Dodge.

 

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On Novel: My Writing Process

Author Elaine Dodge

 

Rabbit trails. I would have to say rabbit trails – if I was asked where I find my ideas. Inspiration is everywhere. Pay curious attention, do good research and everything can lead to a great story idea. That’s not to say though that the research you do today will have any bearing on the story you’re currently writing. But, file it away, make a brief note on it and let it brew.

When asked about my actual writing process, I tend to laugh as I don’t really think about it. But having been asked to think about it here, I realised I write short stories and novels in completely different ways.

I’m currently part of a short story challenge. Perhaps it’s the fact I’m a content creator by profession, where word counts are essential and not up for debate, that I love the constraints of the challenge. Others rail against the prompt, the word count and the deadline. I have no idea why. Where’s the challenge if there are no constraints?

I approach these tales the same way as I do my ‘Running the Bathwater Stories’. These are a series of short stories which I write under one strict, self-imposed rule. After turning on the taps, I must sit down at the laptop, with no story idea in my head, and start writing immediately. I must complete a tale by the time the bath is ready. My bath does admittedly run rather slowly. It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to reach an acceptable depth. I can edit, but not change the actual story, any time after that.

When I write for the short story challenge I basically do the same thing. Although, to be honest, in this case, I don’t start writing till I have the idea. But that idea, based on the prompt, is usually as simple as ‘blinding sunshine’. The prompt in that case being, ‘Coming Undone’. Then, I sit down and start writing. I seem to instinctively write short stories in the first person. I’m working on that.

The only tale in this short story challenge I didn’t do that with was one entitled ‘A White Lie’. As it was based on Scott’s expedition to the South Pole, I wanted to make sure I had all my facts right first. It was fascinating.

Novels, however, are a different herd of elephants, although I often approach the first chapter in a similar way. A thought, the spark of inspiration and then the ‘let’s see where this leads’ and off I go. Occasionally, these can begin as Running the Bathwater Stories, but if I like the ideas that start to flow once the writing begins, I may find I have a whole novel sprouting in my head. Or at least the possibility of one. So, I keep going. When I’ve finished the first, or in some cases the first three chapters, and I’m convinced this may be something worth pursuing, I stop and go back to the beginning.
I write a list of all the characters I’ve thought of so far, doing character sheets for all the important ones.
I open an Excel spreadsheet and begin to plot the book. I try to figure out the ending as soon as I can. I didn’t do that with my second novel, ‘The Device Hunter’, and it threw me off kilter for about a year. I had to rewrite the entire second half of the book. So now, I have a hard and fast rule; Know thy ending first.
Then I begin the research. I end up with thick files full of facts, useful in ways I may not have originally intended.
Once I have enough to work with though, I carry on writing the book, doing whatever extra research is needed along the way.

For both short stories and novels, I try to apply other rules to myself:
Every word counts. Only use as many as necessary. No fluffing around.
Stop using so many commas. A failing of mine.
The last line must be memorable and leave people thirsty.
The first line must be a goodie, hook the reader in. Can it carry more weight, show location and character? Can it hint at theme? Can it give a taste of the ending of the whole book without giving the ending away? Can you use the first two lines as a double whammy?

The first lines of that ‘Coming Undone’ short story…

He seriously missed mirrors. And occasionally, Carly Simon.

 

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AUTHOR BIO

I was born in Zambia and went on a round the world cruise with my family when I was four years’ old. We moved to Zimbabwe where I grew up and set on my own round the world adventure a few years after I left art college. I’ve been in South Africa for the last thirteen years and although I’ve travelled haven’t managed to get more than two countries in at one time.

At college, I trained as a designer and after a few years segued into advertising. When I came ‘down south’, I moved into television production. I had always wanted to ‘make movies’, but that didn’t seem to be a door that would open for me. Writing TV proposals for international broadcasters however, did open a door. One I hadn’t realised I’d been camping outside of all my life – writing fiction.

I decided I needed to devote myself to writing. In order to do that I am now a freelance website creator and copywriter. The theory being that working from home, and for myself, will allow me to plan my days so that I have more time to write my books.

 

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Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Elaine-Dodge/e/B00H2EK45S/

Website: www.elainedodge.weebly.com

Running the Bathwater Stories: http://elainedodge.weebly.com/runningthebathwaterstories

Short Story Challenge: http://elainedodge.weebly.com/12-short-stories-in-12-months

 

A Pet Peeve You Didn’t Know You Had

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Recently I discovered a pet peeve I didn’t know I had. It crept up on me slowly,  even though as I’m sitting here thinking about it, the revelation should’ve come on sooner.

I’m allergic to people who whine. No seriously, I start to itch every time a chronic complainer starts talking or does a status update or just breathes because you just know they are silently complaining about all the toxins in the air.  And have you noticed how chronic complainers always individualize their ‘issues’ as if no one in the world or history have experienced what they are experiencing? Somehow because they are experiencing them everyone needs to come to a standstill like we are all doing the #MannequinChallenge. *strike a pose*

The other day a chronic complainer on one of my social networks wrote this mini thesis on how tough their lives were, etc. and how because they form part of a certain segment of the population, their problems seemed to be double fold. And all I could think was, “Nope, that’s not true. You’re human. You have human problems, like everyone else.” Imagine saying that to a chronic complainer *bug eyed* They’d end up complaining about how insensitive you were.

So because I don’t want to be labeled as someone who’s insensitive (because I do have compassion for my fellow humans) I decided to reflect on why this annoyed me. Why someone ‘talking’ about their problems constantly makes my skin crawl and then break out into a rash (hey I told you I was allergic! *smile*).

 

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I realized something profound that might not be so profound to anyone else, depending on where you are in the world or your human development.

My people (the Coloured people of South Africa) don’t have a legacy of complaining. During Apartheid you’d have a tough time finding them and black people of SA complaining in public about their oppressive circumstances. It takes absolute freedom to complain. It takes a certain level of entitlement to complain. You have to know that when you open your mouth no one will throw you in jail or kill you. So my people, generally, created a culture of not giving voice to the issues that really mattered to them. And no it wasn’t just my people who suffered in silence, various groups in SA did.

I grew up learning that when you are going to complain about something, make sure it’s something worthwhile because  that action might come back to haunt you.

And that legacy is hard to shake. If I’m going to complain I have to consider how it will affect every aspect of my life. No I will not just call a waiter over to complain about bad service before my meal get to the table. Nah ah I’m not taking that chance.

Social media hasn’t really helped with this pet peeve, if anything; it only made my allergy worse. I’ve literally ignored people online just because I couldn’t stomach the complaining anymore. Goodness, we get it, life is hard. It’s really hard. And for certain people in the world, right now, especially when I think of the recent headlines in the news, it is really tough. So you complaining about a dishwasher, or stubbing your toe, do seem trivial.  And I’m not referring to that random once in a blue moon status update we all make. I’m referring to that chronic complainer who on a daily basis seems to be at the end of their rope. Like if just one thing should happen they will pack it all up and move to Mars because Earth just sucks.

It does seem contrite to say count your blessings…but it actually works. My grandmother used to sing, “Count your blessings name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” Every now and then when life becomes hard (like it does for us all) I start counting the good things/people that are in my life. Things I’m happy for, for that day. I deliberately focus on the positive. And yes sometimes that’s not easy to do.

There are so many things none of us have control over, being a chronic complainer isn’t one of them.

#happywriting

Three Act Structure: Saving my plot

 

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I’m hard at work editing my second paranormal romance. I’m also on my second developmental edit. Why? Because I realized something fundamental while rewriting certain scenes and deleting overused words. My plot felt iffy, because my sub-plot felt iffy.

*smile* Yeah I know, I’m being as clear as mud right now.

I had a plot worked out that revolved around the hero and heroine—good. But the inciting incident that draws the two together, though believable since I’d taken it straight from current news headlines, seemed to the drag the romance in a direction I didn’t want it to go. For a novella with a maximum word count of 30K, the subject matter was too big and distracted from the romance. In fact, the growing romance between the couple seemed trivial in comparison. Why are you two making goofy eyes at each other when Rome is burning down? (Side note: the novella is not set in Rome 🙂 )

And I wanted them to make goofy eyes at each other. That’s the whole point of a romance book. In order to get myself back on track I went back to the fundamental Three Act Structure of a story. Not only should my story follow this structure but my scenes should too. I needed this refresher again to ground my romantic plot.

At its most basic, a Three Act Structure is simply:

Act I: Beginning

Act II: Middle

Act III: End

So let’s break it down more.

Act I:

The set up. First show your main character’s day to day life (this is necessary to measure the change they undergo through their journey). The inciting incident: the event that sets off a course of action, the reason why your main character goes on a journey.

The point of no return: they are committed to their goal and can’t turn back.

Act II:

The middle: here your main character tries to try to achieve their goals. Here, they can also either achieve it or find a new one.

They can even pursue their goal through the whole second act and face obstacle after obstacle. By the end of act II something should happen to make us think they will never reach their goal. All must seem lost.

Act III:

The resolution. What does your character learn, prove or discover? This is where we begin thinking about themes and what we are really trying to say.

 

This is just a simple, basic break down of the Three Act Structure. It kept me focused on my main plot and helped me to make the right decision for the romance in the story. The story flows now and each scene moves at a good pace.

Hope this helps you too!

#happywriting

Writing Sizzle (When you’re used to Sweet)

*This was an article I wrote as a guest post on another blog, but thought I’d share it here again 🙂

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As with all things in life, trying something new does bring its own set of challenges. And going from writing sweet contemporary romance to more spicy paranormal romance wasn’t the exception.

I remember at one point I did a post on my Facebook Author Page on the research I’d done on ‘how to approach writing a love scene’. Don’t worry I won’t do a recount here *smile*

But what is the challenge of writing sizzling instead of sweet? Romance is romance after all. There can’t be much difference between the two. And right there, I would lose my reader. Because a sweet romance reader is looking for something different than a reader who prefers a more sizzling read. As an author with a deep respect for readers (because I’m a reader myself) I sat back and dug deep to understand the complexity of the challenges I’m going to face as I tell the story.

The Wolf’s Choice is my first foray into romance that sizzles. It also forms part of a bigger world, The Black Hills Wolves, created by Heather Long and Rebecca Royce for Decadent Publishing. So I had to keep the requirements of the series in mind and stay true to what the creators had in mind of for it. And since the inspiration for the novella started off in my imagination with these two innocent teens meeting at the local Swimming Hole, I knew that I’m going to have a problem if I kept to my ‘old’ style of sweet romance writing (even though the scene when read on its own is sweet).

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I think it’s good to note at this point that I don’t just read sweet romance. The romance books I buy range in heat levels, but I usually gravitate towards the stories that contain a happy medium. And that’s the crux for an author who’s going from a ‘clean’ read to a much hotter one. The first challenge you’ll face is to ask yourself, where’s my comfort level with the hotness-factor? Once you’ve established this, you’ll know whether you’ll be able to write a romance that sizzles or have to completely abandon that writing path.

The second challenge, I found, has to do with language, what words to use? Do you want to be graphic? What do your favorite authors use when they tackle a love scene? And most importantly, what type of language is used by the authors contracted for the series/line you want to write for? If the language is an issue for you, then don’t. To force is a crime *smile* and no one likes to be forced to do anything. I’ve read authors who use the words dick, pussy, etc. in such a jarring way that I stopped reading the story. To me, they are out of sync with their characters. If your heroine has never throughout the book even thought of sex or referred to her body parts in her mind or in the dialogue in erotic terms, then goodness why are you now suddenly having her using those terms? The language becomes jarring.

That’s something I had to study in The Wolf’s Choice. A woman with sexual experience wouldn’t necessarily be coy about sex. Though we all know it’s not that cut and dried, characters, like people are complex. (And this you’ll find out about my heroine Rebecca, when you read the story). But there are certain universal things we all accept and don’t about characters in novels.

So language is a definite challenge when writing a sizzling romance.

Don’t lose the plot. No seriously, don’t. Essentially you’re telling the story of two people falling in love and the obstacles that keep them from doing that. As a romance writer that’s your first priority. Don’t get bogged down by how hot your book’s supposed to be. Or by what page number your characters should have, at least, kissed. Or made love.  And don’t write love scenes as fillers.

Some publishers might compromise story because sex is the subject of that imprint. But you have to keep in mind that at the heart of every romance is the emotional bond between the hero and heroine. The emotional bond adds layers to theDance-of-Love300x450 sizzle and the sizzle in your story should advance the plot.

The important thing to acknowledge is that you’ll face challenges as you go along, but to not allow them to keep you from telling your story.

 

*What challenges have you faced writing a love scene?

 

Divorce isn’t the End

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That title just made some people who know me extremely nervous *smile*

“When did Inge get married?”

“And when did she divorce?”

“How did I not know this?!”

Uhm…I didn’t. I haven’t. And we are probably not as close as you think if the third question went through your head.

But how can I know this then? I’ve never been married.  How I can speak for divorcees?

I’m not.

I’m not speaking for them. There’s so many things said about people who go through divorce on the internet, either by themselves or professionals. Not so much the ‘bystanders’.

And no I’m not going to comment on divorce in general. What I am going to shine a light on are the children, the grownup ones, who have to either pick up the pieces and/or deal with the emotional aftermath. The ones who have to resign themselves to a life of, “What can I say in front of my mother/father about the other, that in no way harms my relationship with both?”

It is funny how even the most amicable separations can turn sour, because even if both parties are okay with leaving, if the other one seems to have a way “better” time at moving on. Some bitterness sweeps in. And that bitterness, no matter the amount, has an effect on the children.

You can be the most well adjusted, emotionally intelligent adult there is, but when your parents go through a divorce…it wrecks your world. The experience tears something inside of you. You won’t realize until you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night unable to breathe because it feels like the air had been sucked out of your lungs. And as an adult, someone who’s thirty-three years old, people expect you to have it together.

You’re not a child that you lean on your parents support for everything. The bulk of sympathy goes to kids who still haven’t finished school. And trust me, I feel for them. They have absolutely no control over their lives; adults are making decisions for them. At least when you’re a grownup you can tell your parents, “Look I don’t want to deal with your drama anymore.” You can cause them to be shamefaced for the way they are acting, for the way they are having you be the grownup, when they raised you. Not the other way around.

So definitely an up and down side to being an adult with recently divorced parents.

Nevertheless here’s why I believe divorce isn’t the end for adult children with divorced parents, especially if those parents chose to get a divorce, rather than the one cheating on the other or being emotionally and physically abusive, etc. But rather them realizing that they’ve grown apart and want different things from life.

You can still be a family. Two years ago I didn’t think that would be possible. (And I know everyone’s circumstances/families aren’t the same.)

But there is hope of peace. Hope of everyone getting on well together. You don’t have to choose sides adult child of divorced parents *smile*

As we all know, a couple breaking up, most of the time, doesn’t have a direct correlation to the children. It’s their issues with each other. So don’t think that at any point in the future you won’t be able to pick up the strands of the relationship again. Yes, it’s going to be different. There’s going to have to be forgiveness and healing. You’re going to have to openly talk about your issues (if you have any) with each other. Because your mother is still your mother and your father is still your father. That bond isn’t going to go away just because your dad is married to someone new, or your mom chooses to live in a commune with people who dress in white and murmur affirmations under their breath. Just saying.  Through your connection, they are still your family. And that makes something like divorce not final.

Death is final. And I have to say, people who compare the two with each other, might not have any plans of ever moving on from divorce. I still carry the death of my biological father with me, but I don’t carry my parents’ divorce with me. To me, the two can never be lumped under the same heading. I can make peace with a living breathing person, but I can’t with someone who’s no longer there.

So divorce is not the end. It’s the beginning of another different kind of life. But still life.

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Putting Yourself Out There

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Whether it’s in a romantic relationship or business partnership, you take a risk putting yourself out there.

All parties come with their set of skills and issues. Yes issues. The ones you collected from previous relationships and partnerships. You literally tell yourself to keep an open mind, to not judge people the same. This venture will be different; you won’t be picking up the slack. You won’t be the one left hanging after the phone call. But then you precariously find yourself doing a balancing act that would make an Olympic gymnast look like an amateur.

Putting yourself in a position where you have to rely on someone else is always scary. You have to trust that they’d have the best interest at heart for you or for the venture. You have to trust that you’ve made the right decision of entering with them into a relationship in the first place.

And I’m not someone who easily does that *pulls face* No I certainly don’t. And it doesn’t help that past experiences has basically taught me that I’m better of doing everything myself.

So of course, since I am self-aware I know my shortcomings. That I’d rather work on my own than do a group project (that has absolutely no bearing on my romantic status *straight face*). Because it takes a village to raise a child. That’s an African saying. And it holds true for taking on certain projects…true for having a healthy fulfilled life. Sometimes you need a little help from your friends.

That’s what the Africa Online Book Fair reminded me of again.

There’s a reason sites like Facebook got so big. Mark Zuckerburg understood the power of social networks, the power of people reaching out to each other, the power in connections and relationships. They can help you build things. The right people, with the right intentions and work ethic can build something solid.

Of course there is a flip-side to this coin. To this perfect picture I just sketched. Because people have personalities, come with their view points and sometimes misconceptions of what the objectives are.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across the latter. If people aren’t clear on what the end goal is it can impact how tasks are executed.

And once in awhile I’ve come across a rogue. You know what I mean, that one person who goes upstream while everyone’s going downstream. The one who deliberately swims against the current and you’re like why? That’s way too much effort and time consuming.

Here’s what I’ve learned when I’m working with someone and I’m required to be the number two (or four *grin*); I take a backseat. And not as a backseat driver. No. They should take the lead; I don’t try to make a grab for the wheel. If it looks like they are heading for a cliff I, politely, in a very reserved tone and with a modicum of caution, tell them that we are heading for a nosedive down a cliff. Usually that works. Because even though I’m an introvert with extrovert tendencies (I have a sneaky suspicion I might have developed into a full on self-aware extrovert over the years) I get on well with most people. Have been described as charming and likeable. And not just by people my age or ethnicity, class or cultural background. Across the board.

You know you’ve got people skills when eighteen and sixty year olds count you among their friends.

But in spite of this…in spite of the other side to the coin, I’d still say put yourself out there. Do it for your growth, do it for the experience, do it so you can write a blog post *laughs*, but mostly do it because it’s healthy. It’s good to come in contact with personalities that are not like yours. It’s good to see something come about from nothing. You learn new skills, make new contacts, and find out that the world is bigger than your experiences of it. That’s the reward.

No one can take away the lessons, the improvements away from you. You’ll know how to go about things next time in a similar setting, similar venture…another relationship.

So go on…take the plunge, put yourself out there.

#happynetworking

 

Saying Goodbye: Series Finale The Vampire Dairies

 

images vd season1 2Do you know where you were when you watched the pilot of The Vampire Dairies?

I do. I was studying my Honors degree at the University of Stellenbosch, living in one of the senior residences and a friend of mine had come over for a visit. We’d ended up getting our weekly dose of The Big Bang Theory and then decided (since we are both Twilight lovers) to give this new vampire TV series a try.

We watched it with mixed emotions. It was not Twilight. It was something different. But not bad different.

I didn’t know if I liked Elena Gilbert or not. She was the polar opposite of Bella Swan—confident, sassy, popular, had two best friends…and a tragedy. Let’s just speak truth for a minute here. I love Bella Swan, but until Edward Cullen showed up in her life, she didn’t have any level of depth that I could spy. The vampire gave her layers.

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Elena Gilbert (even though I was one of the character’s harshest critics) is introduced to us as someone who puts on the social mask that everyone expects of her, but deep down is still struggling with her parents death and the car accident she survived.

When Stefan Salvatore shows up and distracts her from what happened, it isn’t so much as he’s giving her layers but rather, as she so aptly puts in the last episode of the series, he brought her back to life.

I also from the onset became a big fan of Damien Salvatore, the very good-looking sometimes downright evil and reluctant hero and older brother of Stefan. You could already see just what he was going to bring to the table when he said with a smirk, “Hello little brother,” at the end of the pilot episode.

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And though the series was built on the love triangle between the two vampire brothers and a human girl, it ended up introducing us to the awesome witch Bonnie Bennet and organize freak who later also becomes a vampire Caroline Forbes, as well as Elena’s little brother Jeremy (in the books Elena has a sister), werewolf Taylor, Matt the human (yeah that’s how I thought of him lols at one point he was the only human amongst his friends), and his sister Vicki—whose death in season one threw us all. It was then that we all realized The Vampire Dairies meant business. This was going to be a show that’s going to grab you by the…uh nuts and take no prisoners. It was going to make itself stand out.

That was due to good casting and great storylines.

And let me not forget, they gave us the Mikaelsons; Klaus, Rebekah and Elijah…the Original vampire family. For that I will always hold a special place in my vampire-TV series-loving-heart for The Vampire Dairies.

I knew the end was coming after Nina Dobrev exited the series, but I held hope that it might go on to ten seasons *smile* I know, that’s pushing it. The love triangle, the tension between the three main characters that started us off, was gone. Because (oh I’m going to piss off a few people) I honestly don’t think Stefan was over Elena and vice versa. Yeah she chose Damien, but Damien can be so self-destructive that he would’ve ended up messing up their relationship (because as we’ve all learned in life, you can’t change for a person, you have to do that for yourself) and Damien’s whole premise of being good relies heavily on Elena. And we all knew Elena could be quite fickle sometimes. So there was still a chance, if Nina hadn’t left, that a relationship with Stefan would’ve been in the cards.

Hey, I love Damien, but I’m being realistic here. Damien was our foreshadowing of Klaus Mikaelson and anti-heroes are called anti-heroes for a reason.  

So Nina’s exit made it quite clear that The Vampire Dairies was coming to a definite end. Though we had time to prepare, it still took me by surprise at how emotional I was when I watched the last episode on Saturday. Yeah I know I’m a bit late to the party, but in my defense I’m thirty-three years old and was busy adulting, so put all my favorite shows on the backburner. (Yay Catch-up!)

 

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I was singing, “Please don’t leave quite yet!” and then The Fray’s Never Say Never. I hated that Bonnie didn’t get her happy ending with Enzo, but then again her ending was also fitting for the character. She’d always been this strong independent (black woman) witch who sweeps in and saves the day, sacrificing herself for the greater good and coming out on top, fiercer and wiser than ever. I loved how Caroline got what she’d always wanted, she married Stefan. Though she lost him again, she had that moment. She also got a family, because goodness, Caroline Forbes deserves to have a family dammit *sniffs* after what she’s been through. Oh and please plant her into The Originals. I’m still rooting for her and Klaus! *grin*

Matt became the Sheriff in Mystic Falls…yep uh kind of saw that coming a couple of seasons ago, but it’s also fitting. And Taylor, hot headed werewolf Taylor, is in the afterlife with Vicki and the rest of the cast who died.

There are so many other memorable characters like Rick, Aunt Jenna, etc. But I’ve just gone over nine hundred words, so I’m going to stop here.  

From 2009 till 2017 you’ve given us great television. You weren’t just a teen paranormal action/romance/drama but a solid show with a great cast and stories. I’ll probably re-watch my favorite seasons, so though this is goodbye, it does by no means, mean that you’ll be forgotten.

Yep I just had to go deep ala Elena Gilbert *teary smile*

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