Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How I Fight the Blues and Up All Night

Over the last week people around the interwebs have shared (and are still sharing) their own, or someone they know and love's, struggles with depression. In the wake of Robin William's untimely death, I think we're all reflecting and introspecting a bit more than usual.



Basically, the world has been rocked. And it's an excellent opportunity to discuss a profound subject that isn't always easy to do. Our friends at #NALitChat were quick to tackle the subject of artists and depression by hosting their usual weekly Twitter chat with audio last Thursday night at 9pm Eastern. Many resources were given, so if you missed it and are interested, please check it out HERE.

On a side note, Robin Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson's, and depression is one of the many symptoms that coincides with the disease.However, he'd struggled with depression over the years, as well as bouts of substance abuse.

While I'm no expert on the subject, I share the same struggles as anyone else, and here is where I share a few of my basics when it comes to fighting the blues:

* Learn to embrace sadness when it comes, but learn to recognize the difference between a healthy sadness and an infinite one. 

What I mean is, its okay to be sad sometimes. It's part of who we are and it's an element of human nature. It seems like there's a misconception that we're not supposed to be sad so we have to nip it quickly, or find help and pretend we're okay.... put on our game face. Why do we feel the need to run from sadness? Sorrow makes us real, and it fills us with empathy for other people.

I feel like it's healthy to embrace sadness when it comes. The only way is through, not around. And it's only after this affair with sadness that we can move on. Numbing it over as soon as it hits does nothing but teach us how to avoid real emotion. Sadness is life's reminder for us to reach out to our fellow human beings--to let us know we need each other, and that no one can do all of it alone.

--> Important note: Sadness does and should end naturally after a certain period of time. It's organic for our brains to let go and move on in order to seek contentment. If this isn't happening on its own, this is an indicator that something is off balance inside and a doctor should be consulted. And it's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. So so many artists struggle with depression.

Which brings me to my next point:

* Find a support network.

Not just any group, but one that makes you feel positive about yourself, and one who you can trust. The best groups are made up of peers who are in the same boat--with the same core beliefs and interests, and ones who are willing to share knowledge and encouragement. Here are a few of my faves:

Insecure Writers Support Group
#NALitChat on Twitter
Daydreamers Anonymous
Writers Support 4U

There are many others--more than I can list, and these above are some that welcome ALL writers regardless of what you write, or how you're published. If a group doesn't have the vibe you're looking for, leave. It's that simple. I've been in and out of many, and it's not worth spending time in a group where you're not celebrated for who you are.

Having a tribe of writer friends is an absolute must in this biz of writing and publishing, and if you have questions feel free to email me privately. I'm always available via email and will help however I can.

*Find something else that grounds you.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Writing is our passion, yes, but there is more to life than writing and art. Matter of fact, art only becomes better when it's a reflection of real life, so we have to be out there living. We need something that grounds us outside of our little niche worlds. For me, it's family and faith. It keeps everything in perspective.

I heard a quote the other day that said, "Sometimes you have to step back and ask yourself, 'Am I too close?'"

We should all make it a point to do that on a regular basis.

* Find a way to help someone else.

There is nothing in this world that mends a broken heart like that of helping someone else in need. It's part of shifting that perspective to the bigger picture. I try to remind myself when I'm feeling the blues how many other people out there would trade places with me in a heartbeat. And it doesn't matter how bad off you may think you have it, there is always someone else out there who has it worse.

Go to a nursing home, or children's home, or hospital and you will see them. Those people would give anything to wallow in the misery of their artist's life in lieu of what they're currently going through.

There is always something we can do for others, and when we do, it's a natural release of endorphins that create happiness. It's how our bodies are made up. And while those who suffer from a chemical imbalance may not experience these natural highs, it doesn't hurt to try.

*Soak up the sun.

I know, I know--easy for me to say when I live in the Sunshine State. But the sun reaches every part of our world--some more than others--and the key is to know the best times to get your dose of serotonin. It's another natural vitamin that helps fight the blues and it's right outside available to us most every day. It's so easy to stay locked away in our writer's caves creating and keeping deadlines, but our health is so much more important. Even if it's only fifteen minutes a day, make the time to soak up a little sunshine. One of life's natural mood enhancers.

* Forget perfection. 

It just doesn't exist. Killing ourselves trying to find it is moot. I read an awesome quote the other day that just totally hit home: "There is no perfect book--only lessons learned and the next book."

How true is that?? We can only take what we've learned from the last book we wrote and write another one and hope it's a little better. And this applies to every writer at any stage of their career.

*Exercise

I try to bike 30 minutes every day. I walk the neighborhood twice a day with the dog. And I do lots of stretches throughout the day. There are days when I don't want to do any of it, but I force myself because I know it always makes me feel better. It's part of that bigger perspective thing, and it forces me to concentrate on my body other than my thoughts and deadlines and daily stresses.

So these are just a few ways I fight the blues. And I feel them same as anyone else.

Please reach out if you ever find yourself in a deep dark place. Help is all around, but we don't always know when someone needs our help. It's human nature to need other people, and we all feel better inside when we're able to help others.

Off the subject, but here's something I'm excited about:


Revealing the cover for a new adult romance box set that's sure to keep you up all night reading.It's launching on iBooks for only .99. Wowsers! That's 10 amazing authors and fantastic reads for a buck! (with yours truly included)

You can preorder only on iBooks HERE.

Add it to your GoodReads list HERE.

  UP ALL NIGHT will keep you up ‘til dawn with romantic stories featuring whip-smart college guys, bad boy rock stars, heroic marines, a sexy teacher, and a smokin' hot snowboarder.

Together, these books have earned more than 1,600 five-star ratings and usually sell for over $30. Each book is a standalone, first in its series, and the set includes two NYT and USA Today bestselling authors.

You Make Me, Blurred Lines #1
New York Times bestselling author Erin McCarthy 
Caitlyn's perfect world with fiancé Ethan is shattered when her first love Heath returns to Maine after a mysterious four-year absence. Heath wants her back, but Ethan doesn't want to let her go. And when one love allows her to breathe, but the other feels as essential to her life as air, how does she choose between them?

One and Only, Canton #1
Viv Daniels
Tess lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. But when she transfers to her dream college and reunites with her first love, she begins to break the rules.

Tattoo Thief, Tattoo Thief #1
Heidi Joy Tretheway
Beryl doesn't know why Gavin Slater trashed his apartment, abandoned his dog and fled the country. But as his house sitter, she must pick up the pieces for the white-hot rock star to find out why he's running--and what can bring him back.

One Broke Girl, Edgewood Falls #1
Rhonda Helms
When Anna's mother disappears with the family fortune, Anna and her father must return to their small Ohio hometown--a temporary situation, she vows. But finding work, caring for her depressed father and locating her mom are harder than Anna anticipated. Not to mention a sexy male kindergarten teacher who makes Anna question everything she thought she wanted...

Random, Going the Distance #1
Lark O'Neal
Jess Donovan wants a better life than the one she was born to, but how do you figure how what you want when life has never been anything but a series of hurdles? When mysterious, sexy snowboarder Tyler Smith shows up in her life, Jess doesn't know if he's an opportunity for love--or her downfall.

Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc., Butterman Travel, Inc. #1
PK Hrezo
A futuristic romance along the winding path of time. It's the year 2069 and even though eighteen-year-old Bianca Butterman is heir to the family time travel biz, she never expected to be earning her official time-craft license with golden boy pop superstar, Tristan Helms, in tote. Her life is about to get a lot more complicated ... and exciting.

Come Back To Texas, Twelve Beats in a Bar #1
KK Hendin
Hayley and Nate had the perfect love story before life crashed through it. Now, three years, one deployment, and a few YouTube videos later, everything's about to change.

The Opposite of Nothing, Copeland College #1
Shari Slade
When socially-awkward campus DJ Callie Evans falls for her bad boy BFF, she doesn't tell him. Instead, she creates a fake online profile and "catfishes" him. The closer they get, online and off, the more she realizes she has to confess. And risk losing him forever.

The Long Game, American Gypsy #1
J.L. Fynn
When gypsy con artist Shay Reilly meets co-ed Spencer, sparks fly. Problem: Shay's plans of revenge against Spencer's father stands between them and their budding romance.

Undeclared, Woodlands #1
USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick
Grace Sullivan exchanged letters with a deployed Marine most of her teen years. She fell in love with him but was devastated to learn her feelings weren't reciprocated. Two years later when he shows up at her posh Midwest college claiming they belong together, she is wary and worried ... and falling in love again?

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please know I'm always available to answer questions via email. 

How do you fight the blues when they hit? Has it ever seemed longer than normal? What's your best advice for someone going through a dark time? I love hearing from you....

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG - The Artist

Ah, August .... how you bring such bittersweetness. Soon, the kids will be back in school and writing time will be abundant .... yet mornings will require efficiency, motivation, and precision ... all just after the crack of dawn.


Today is the first Wednesday of the month and that means time fore IWSG around the blogosphere coming together for support and encouragement. Click on the pic below to get to HQ at Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and join in or see all the participants.


Do you think being an artist makes you more insecure? Does that feeling go with the territory?

When I use the word "artist" it's to encompass anyone who uses creativity to build something out of nothing, whether it be stories, paintings, music, etc. Many of us create more than one kind of art. I myself handcraft and draw, as well as write .... many of you are musicians or graphic artists as well as writers.

Creation and artistry is in our blood, and we need more than one outlet. I crave that feeling of working with my hands--other than typing. And although I'm not musically talented, music plays a HUGE part in my creative process.

It took me a very long time to realize that being an artist made me different--in a good way. A unique way. But growing up I didn't understand it. I was not academically inclined. My grades were average and in many cases I scraped by. I never felt like I wasn't smart enough, only that I wasn't wired for academics. Yet somehow, that seemed to make me inferior in school. Why is that?

Not full understanding your artist brain  makes school careers challenging. Sometimes there were bad grades, or disciplinary actions, and that can make for LOTS of insecurities. My parents noticed my artistic abilities early on and tried to emphasize that with drawing lessons and such. But that still required learning in a certain format, and that was where I differed.

I didn't flourish under standard teaching methods, because my brain worked differently. I craved experience and emotion and the need to create. That made me different than the status quo, and that made me insecure.

My point is, as artists we ARE different. We ARE more insecure. It's in our nature. And that's because we FEEL things more deeply. The structures of every day life don't work for us, because we're not wired that way. We look for the beauty and emotion and rawness of life so that we can in turn create from it. And having that hyper-sensitivity is what makes us so valuable as artists, while on the flip side, making us so vulnerable to insecurity.

We hope to evoke feeling in those we share our art with, and when we do, it's a rush like none other! Sometimes our art evokes the wrong feelings, and we're judged and critiqued and left feeling as deflated as a popped balloon. And we feel that intensely.

But that's okay, because as artists, we are meant to feel everything--even the bad stuff--because that fills our creative well with more raw emotion to use in our art. Yes, there are ups and downs like a roller coaster in the artist's life ... but that's what makes it so grand. We are thrust into the middle of a ride and hanging on for dear life, but through it all, we are LIVING.

It's not the life for everyone, and sometimes the downs seem to last too long. But the ups are so rewarding.

We are artists. We embrace our insecurities because we know they make us real. They connect us with human nature and allow us to breathe life into our art.


I hope you have an excellent week. I'm running giveaways all week via my newsletter for my upcoming release at the end of the month. You can join my email list right here  http://eepurl.com/O0s5b
and I'll send you a free ebook of Diary of a Teenage Time Traveler.

I'm also part of a sci-fi romance box set with ten other authors at a price you can't beat with a stick. Only .99 for eleven full length novels. Click on pic to get to All Romance and download in your preferred format.

It's currently an All Romance bestseller, so YAY!


I just got my shiny new proof in the mail yesterday, so I'll be proofing away today. If anyone would like an ARC to read and review, please email me at pakazo77@gmail.com


And if you have a quick minute to share my super cool trailer, I'll be forever grateful! You can share right from the YouTube share buttons on the same page.

TRAILER

Thank you so much for stopping by! Tell me about your own experience as an artist? Did you identify it at an early age? Do you still struggle with the insecurities or do you have a grip? What are the biggest challenges?