Category Archives: Dreams

Sacrifice for Greatness

Nothing worthwhile has ever occurred without tremendous effort and sacrifice. You must be able to set aside your “wants” and make it happen.

Anyone’s who has ever wanted to be a writer, a musician, or an athlete cannot attain greatness without some sort of sacrifice.

I’ve heard time and time again from would-be writers that they want to write. Ok, well do it! You cannot call yourself a writer if all you do is wish to be one. Add pen to paper, scribble a word, and add more. Sit at your computer and type those glorious words one after another. Those are what begin to make you a writer.

guitar-1837044_960_720Learning to play an instrument isn’t easy. Figuring out chords, notes, and timing takes…well, time. You have to practice a lot. There’s no other way around it. Wishing to be a musician doesn’t make it happen.

You must do something in order to achieve these goals. You must get up off your chair and lift weights if you intend on improving your physical strength. You must go out and run if you intend on improving your cardio health. Sitting down and wanting to do these things doesn’t make them happen. Actually doing them does.

runners-373099_960_720In order to achieve any of this, you must be willing to sacrifice something. All of these take time. So instead of playing video games, lift weights. Instead of sleeping in late, you have to get up early to write that story. Instead of watching television, you should practice your scales.

Time is both finite and infinite. We as humans only have so much of it, limiting what we can do with it. How you chose to spend your time will dictate how successful you are in your endeavors. You must be willing to give up whatever time you dedicated to doing nothing to activities that will get you closer to your goal.

Wanting to do something is one thing, but putting your actions into play–actually giving an effort into it–will get you closer to your dreams. Doing so means not doing something else. That’s the sacrifice required to achieve your goals.

How willing are you to let go of what’s holding you back? You’ll be amazed at the results when you are willing to give up your fleeting entertainment in order to focus on your dreams.

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Indie Comic Creator – Todd Black

Not to discount our brethren in the realm of indie comics, I wanted to share about writer and comic creator Todd Black.

ToddBlack
Todd Black, second from the right, amidst the Power Rangers.

I met Todd at this past weekend’s Eclipse Comic Con on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. Todd was with me on the panel discussion on writing. It was a fun hour that went by way too fast.

He’s created several titles including Guardians and Home. He’s a dynamic talent and never ending source of energy.

 

His next project is called 10,000 Miles and he describes it like this:

It’s about two brothers who are about to be separated in life, and decide to go on one last, great adventure to make their last moments together memorable. And so…THEY DECIDE TO DIG THEIR WAY TO CHINA!!!!

You can be part of this adventure through Todd’s Kickstarter campaign. Every dollar helps bring this new tale to life. To find out more and how you can part of this amazing journey, check out the Kickstarter page here.

10000Miles

 

Author Spotlight: Mercedes Prunty

If you’ve been following along this year, I’ve featured many new and “new to you” authors on my blog. I believe in supporting my fellow authors and I hope you’ve been able to find new authors to follow and read. Here’s my latest “Author Spotlight,” author Mercedes Prunty, author of Junia and many more books.


Hi Mercedes, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, well I’m a mother, wife, author and blogger and I currently reside in a small seaside town in East Sussex in the UK. I trained as a hairdresser before finding out I was pregnant with my eldest and it was on my maternity leave when I was bored (Before the baby arrived) that I really started writing. I had always written things as a teenager such as short stories and poems in my notebooks in class instead of paying attention so I guess it’s always been in me to write but I didn’t think I would pursue it. But I didn’t actually write and self-publish my first book until after I’d had my second child. I just needed a confidence push to get me going, which my husband gave me with a pep talk of ‘If you don’t try you’ll never know’ and I’m so glad he told me to.

 

How long have you been writing?

Properly, about 4 years. Not properly, my whole life.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

My first proper novel idea came to me whilst visiting my grandparents. My baby was asleep in her travel cot and my grandad had a documentary on TV about temples in Peru and ancient gateways around the world and to be honest I’d always loved things like ‘Tomb raider or Indiana Jones’ and that was when the idea hit me. So I wrote it down and threw it in a drawer, that was until a night feed at 1am one night and I was wide awake, so I wrote the first chapter, the next night the next chapter and so on. It still took me a year to write but that’s what awakened the true writer in me. Thanks Nan and Grandad.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

It’s a novel which is going to be around 50,000 words, I’m writing it for a competition and that’s around the limit they want, because normally my novels are 100,000+ words. It will be a stand-alone and it’s a Zombie horror novel set in my home town. (I mean why not right?) The idea for this one came to me in a dream and I began writing it, then I spotted the competition and thought, why not.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

Fantasy and Horror and those are the genre’s I mainly read although I will read pretty much anything just depends on my mood.

 

JuniaWhat authors influenced you?

Funnily enough one of the authors who influenced me a lot was S.D.Perry who wrote the novel adaptions from the Capcom game ‘Resident Evil’. As a teen I was obsessed with Zombie horror (I still am) but I loved those books and read them to death, literally, I had to buy them all again they were unreadable after the 57th time. Another author who influence me was Laurell K Hamilton, this mainly influenced my voice as for most of my works I write in first person as she did with the Anita Blake novels but with my new WIP I am in third person which is actually a nice change.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the Resident Evil series that are adaptions of the films. (See I told you I liked zombies). I recently brought the last book in the series but thought I would read them all in a book marathon so I remember what happens and can envision it like one long film. Although I have seen the films hundreds of times over too.

 

AloneDo you write every day? A few days per week?

If and when I can. I have two young children and it’s hard to find the time sometimes. So I just wing it and if I have a quiet day I’ll write, if it’s crazy I don’t.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

I have to listen to music when I write, I get so easily distracted by other noises, even the fridge talking distracts me. (My desk is in the kitchen. I’m not really a piggy…much). I tend to have a separate playlist for each novel but I mainly listen to film or video game soundtracks. For my book Junia I listened to the Final Fantasy X soundtrack on repeat for months.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

It’s neater and by that I mean less sloppy, my vocabulary is broadening, my ideas getting more vivid, less mistakes but still a few, the formatting and page layout has improved. I take it all in my stride though and learn as I go along.

 

KeeperOfTheKeyHow do you create the covers for your books?

I’ve done photography and art in school and college (Before I went off to do hairdressing), so I love drawing and taking photos so I tend to use them as my covers. One day I would love a cover to be made for me but my finances can’t accommodate that so I use my own, which isn’t a bad thing as people have commented on how they like my covers as they are not all the same generic ones you get from the shop.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

The Resident Evil films and games, The Last of Us video game (Honestly if you haven’t played it you haven’t lived, it is awesome and so is the soundtrack), Final Fantasy X video game, (I like video games if you haven’t guessed and yes I am a bit of a geek). The Walking Dead… Just anything Zombie horror and Fantasy.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

‘Suddenly Alicia stopped, it looked as if she was trying to listen to something behind the scream of the alarms. Joel stopped and raised his gun up still holding onto the case, then his eyes widened. “RUN!” he screamed grabbing Maria’s hand and dragging her along the corridor.

Glenn turned to see a whole army of the turned chasing after them, their eyes focused on one thing, “The case Joel, drop the case!” He shouted as he also took Alicia’s hand and ran behind them.’

It’s not been edited yet but I’m working on it so this part may or may not change.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Hard to choose just one but… Maybe… The Enemy by Charlie Higson. (Yes it’s another Zombie horror book)

 

How do you market your books?

Social media mostly because it’s cheap / mostly free although I have been planning to try and branch out a little into the paid Facebook and Amazon ads so we’ll soon see if they bring any more punters in. I have also been to a few book festival type events and sold a few copies there too.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

They are all available on Amazon…

From Amazon.com

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

From Amazon.co.uk

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

 

Where can we find you online?

Twitter – @MercedesPrunty

Facebook author page

Blog

 

LoneIf you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I chose the Indie route because I have so many ideas in my brain for stories, that I worried I would forever be trying to find agents or publishers and not have time to write. I have been told by many that even if you score a publishing deal with a traditional publisher that they might not want to take on all your works, so that would mean finding new agents again and I can’t be harassed with that. Although if one day I decided to try it I wouldn’t mind giving traditional a good go. I guess right now the indie scene suits me and it’s so hot right now it’s a great and inspirational scene to be involved in.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Never give up, keep writing, even when it all feels like rubbish and your failing you truly are not. True writers never give up, quitters are the people who didn’t believe and you must believe.

Dear Writer

Dear Writer,

Hi, my name is Jason. I’m not special. I’m not an authority. I’m not a collegiately trained writer (well, sort of). I’m an (almost) average Joe. But I have something to say.

You know that story you keep meaning to write? Remember that idea burning a hole in your skull? Can you picture those characters that feel so life-like to you? Yeah, that. Do you remember?

Why aren’t you writing?

I met many writers this past weekend that said “I don’t have the time” or “I keep meaning to get back to the story” or some other lame excuse. I’m not gonna sugercoat it for you–write the damn thing!

Your first draft will suck. It will. No amount of “revision as you go” will do it any justice. Be ok with this. Embrace it. You must write a first draft in order to edit and revise.

The time excuse doesn’t fly. Do you have fifteen minutes a day? No? Find it. Put the game controller down. Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb.” Wake up fifteen minutes earlier. Eat a faster lunch to leave time for writing. Instead of watching that tv show in the evening–write. You can always find a quick fifteen minutes of your day to set aside for writing if you evaluate what you’re actually doing with your time and decide what can be cut from your day in order to give your dream a chance. You decide what you do with your spare time, not someone else. Pretty soon, that fifteen minutes will magically expand to twenty. Then to thirty, and then till you’re too tired to make any sense at all (remember, the first draft will suck!)

I’ve got a secret for you, and unlike a magician, I’m gonna share. Do you know how a novel gets completed? By stringing together pages of words. Those pages are made up of paragraphs. Paragraphs are made from sentences. And those sentences are made from words. Write one word. Add another. Add a couple more. That’s progress kids. Keep typing. E-V-E-R-Y word you add to your story is progress. When your time is short, just remember every word you write is one step closer to completion. Your story is moving forward.

Get the words out. If you really want to write, don’t say “I want to.” Do it! Add a couple words at a time. Soon enough you’ll have a sentence, then a paragraph, then a page, and so on.  Be ok with the first draft sucking. Just get it done. Then go back and fix it.

Like I said at the beginning, I’m not an expert, but I have gone through this process. All it takes to go from “I want to write” to “I’m a writer” is putting down one word at a time.

You got this!

 

Your friend,

-Jason

 

The Year of Me

2016 was an interesting year. It began with the release of my first collection of dark fiction short stories (Almost) Average Anthology.

signing
At the Book House in St.Louis – my first book signing!

For those that have actually read my book, its been well received. The positive response has been humbling. I’ve met many new readers/fans and some that I’ve stayed pretty close with. My decision to create a paperback copy of what was at the time just “an experiment” in self-publishing made all the difference (thanks Dan!) I was able to do book signings and attend book fairs and conferences.

My first book signing at The Book House in St. Louis will always stick with me (thanks so much Ken!) Then my first book fair with the St.Louis Indie Book Fair was a great experience. I met the organizer Mark Pannebecker and fellow author John W. Smith. Mark also organized the book fair side to Con-Tamination which I attended and met authors Ray Wenck and Vince Churchill.

Meeting these authors has opened even more doors for me. In April I’ll be at Wizard World in St.Louis because of Ray and in September I’ll be at PennedCon in St.Louis because of John. These authors have been invaluable to me and I look forward to growing as a writer with them.

readingvacation
Reading my story “Vacation” at the St.Louis Indie Book Fair.

In 2016 I also started the year as a writer for Sum’n Unique Magazine. The founder and head guy in charge F. Kenneth Taylor has a vision for his magazine that I completely understand and support. Through him I was able to have my first book signing, first interviews, and more. From my time with S.U.M. I also met fellow writers Lakesha Mathis and Kevin Daniel. All this amazing talent! I wish I could’ve stayed with them but I needed to focus more on my fiction writing and had to step down about mid-year. If you’ve not heard of S.U.M. or their writers, I encourage you to check them out.

In the Spring of 2016 I was also surprised to have one of my stories from (Almost) Average Anthology published on the No Extra Words Podcast. Hearing my words spoken by someone else was an amazing experience.

Of course every year has it’s downside too. For me it came around June when I thought all was going well. In a sense it was going well (and still is) but I hit a bump in my writing. Everyone has critics. Everyone has more to learn in their craft. I was so caught up in thinking I knew what I was doing that when I encountered my first real criticism, it snuffed out my flame of creativity. The critiques I heard were valid and right. They were meant to help me create true works of fiction. I’ll forever be grateful for the lesson, but at the time it made me rethink a lot of what I was doing. In the end it was by far the best thing that could’ve happened to me.

Then in October I released my second collection of dark fiction short stories Moments of Darkness. This collection can be seen as (Almost) Average Anthology vol. 2. So far it’s not taken off as well as the first one but I’m hopeful it will soon. If not, that’s ok too. As I continue to write and new readers discover my work, they’ll have a back catalogue to peruse.

I started 2016 as an unpublished writer and I leave the year as the author of two collections of short stories. I’ll take that! I took my dream and made it happen. I’ve created new connections over the year that have helped me along the way. Not a bad year if I do say so myself! Thanks for sticking with me through all of this. Here’s to an even greater 2017!

The Art of Change

Change is inevitable. It can be intentional. More often it’s forced on us from external sources. How we cope with that change can help determine the outcome of the situation.

Changes in our lives happen daily. Life is nothing but a series of events that change us and those around us. All news stories we listen to or watch on tv or read about deal with change. It could be a crime or event or action taken by someone but it’s about change. Sometimes we’re caught in a routine where change feels difficult or impossible but change is unavoidable. It will occur.

Intentionally changing your circumstances is a difficult move to make. We get comfortable where we’re at. Complacency sets in and to move from the known which is convenient to an unknown full of endless possibilities requires energy and determination. That’s not easy. Dreamers like musicians, writers, and other artists have a challenging time with this. I know, I’m in that group.

OldwayI enjoy writing and when I get the opportunity to put words together for a story or essay and it comes out right – pure bliss! But taking that to the next level where I share it with others through my blog or book is not easy. And once I do, then what? How do I pursue this dream to its fullest? I want to make a change in how I pursue this goal of writing and sharing my work, of creating novels and story collections. I dream about being able to share my work with people I don’t know yet. How do I intentionally make that change from sales rep. with a dream to writer with a career? That’s the change I consider daily. There are so many steps I could take to get from point A to point B. I want to take those steps. It’s not like the path has never been taken. I have to force myself to accept and take that willful direction.

Change is often forced on us. Decisions out of our control dictate our response or at the very least force us to adapt to them. Policy makers, life situations (loss of job, death in the family, etc) and other events out of our control bring unwanted change in our lives.

When I was a junior in high school, my parents made the bold decision to move our family from Cleveland, OH to rural Southern Illinois. It was a situation out of my control. I went from the city I loved to farmlands I hated. I was a punk rock/heavy metal listening skateboarder that found myself living not in a concrete jungle but in the midst of cornfields and soybean fields. That was a change I didn’t handle well at first. It was forced on me and instead of seeing the opportunity for growth all I could do was focus on the negative and fell into a depression.

I’ve lived well over half my life in Illinois moving from the farmlands to a small town and I enjoy life here very much. I have a family and friends I would never have known if it weren’t for this change in my life. I understand now why the change had to occur but at the time like most people forced to deal with such an upheaval, I responded with negativity and anger.

Looking back at it, if I were to deal with the situation in a more positive way I could’ve enjoyed my time and the transition so much more. I could have grown instead of turning inward in a childish attempt to ignore the situation.

Change in our lives is inescapable. We like to think we’re cozy where we’re at. But how likely are you going to stay comfy in your current situation? Taking steps to confront and accept that possibility I think are key to creating a positive outcome. Planning for change rather than reacting to change is a much stronger stance. Working towards a goal and calculating the way towards it is a worthwhile pursuit.


Saturday May 7th I’ll be at the Indie Book Fair in St. Louis selling my book and doing a reading from it. Come on out and meet me and close to 40 other local and regional authors. Should be a great time!

Dreamwraith

Here’s a fun story exposing why we’re all tired.  I hope you enjoy! If so, please leave a comment or share it with others.


A warm darkness permeated the bedroom.  It promised to suffocate any living thing.  The inky blackness shrouded the entire room in a hopeless gloom.  The only visible objects were the sharp, crooked fangs of the dreamwraith looming over its prey.

Under a patchwork quilt stitched together by her grandmother’s wrinkled, loving hands, Shannon lay in a deep sleep, unaware of the evil hovering just above her.  Her soft blonde curls fell about her face in gentle caresses.  Her body grew and shrank with each deep breath.

Above her, the dreamwraith grinned.  His black cloak unnecessary in the late hours as the moon dared not shine this night.  “I’m ready to feast,” he said out loud.  His wispy voice carried across the dark room.  He learned long ago that at this hour, his chances of being caught were slim.  The chance existed, but that was only one of many things that excited him about being a dreamwraith.

“My lovely Shannon, how I’ve missed you.  I’ve been waiting to feast upon your dreams once again.  Their flavor so delicate and succulent.  Feed me well yet again,” the dreamwraith said.  His white eyes darted up and down the bed looking at the gentle woman sleeping unaware of her visitor.

Shannon was young and still in college working on her degree in Medieval literature.  A degree almost worthless in rural Ohio, but yet she stuck with her passion to the dismay of her parents.

Shifting her position on the bed, she lay on her stomach, one leg hanging out of the quilt.  Saliva dripped from the dreamwraith’s mouth as Shannon’s movement made his heartbeat quicken.

With a long bony hand, the dreamwraith reached out and palmed her head.  Suddenly his vision went from oppressive black to vibrant blues and deep verdant shades.  He looked around and saw forests and a mighty river flowing to his right.  The rushing water crashed on rocks which stuck out from the river like sentries.

The dreamwraith smiled again.  He tasted the sweetness of Shannon’s dream, could taste the overwhelming freedom and his urges pushed him over the edge.  He stood there on a field of green dotted with yellows and reds and violets in his black cloak, a jarring reminder of his task to take away the dreams of humans.

He reached out to the ground and scraped at it with his gray-boned fingers.  Shoving the delicacy in his mouth, he closed his eyes as he savored the sweet nectar of Shannon’s dream.  The honey-like consistency coated his mouth and throat.  He choked on it, but that was why he came back.  No other dreams he’d eaten tasted like hers.

His kind wasn’t supposed to be attached to any one person.  They were supposed to go from one to another lest the human discovered them.  Dreamwraiths have been caught over the years, but they always figured out a way to silence the person.  They were forbidden to return to any human until five years had passed.  That was enough time for the human to forget anything out of the ordinary happened.

But he couldn’t stay away.

This was the dreamwraith’s third visit to Shannon in the past year.  Her dreams were a powerful drug, an addiction he couldn’t get rid of even if he wanted to.  Just the thought of them made his knees tremble and his mouth water.  When the inferior dreams no longer satisfied him, he visited Shannon to feast on her exquisite, sumptuous gift.

He scraped more of her dream from the ground shoving it in his mouth.  His mouth exploded in vibrant, exotic flavors.  The unique taste of her dreams coursed through him.  It fueled a lust deep within.  He dropped to the ground and with both bony hands, shoveled the dream into his open maw, greedily gorging on the delectable dream.

Shannon stirred and the dreamwratih found itself in the dark bedroom again.  “No,” it hissed, “you must stay asleep my dear.  You will not turn me away.”  His blank white eyes stared at her.  He lifted his hand to her head again and stood in the green fields once more.  Immediately he dropped to the ground and returned to his gorging, his entire being caught up in the orgiastic pleasure of her dream.

In no time he devoured almost the entire dream, his hunger still not sated.  He stood a moment in the void of what was once her dream with only a small section of blue and green color left.  Savoring the taste of his last bite, he let the flavor wash over him.

Shannon moved and he knew his time was shortening.  Lunging at the spot of color still visible in the dream, he tore at it, shoving it in his mouth, filling himself with her essence.  The moment he took the last bite of her dream, he found himself back in the dark bedroom.

It wasn’t as dark as before.  The tendrils of morning seeped in, breaking the doom of the night.  Slowly the dreamwraith backed away, his lust fulfilled.  He stepped back towards the corner of the room as Shannon moved on the bed.  The patchwork quilt tossed to one side while she moved her arms and rubbed her legs together.  The dreamwraith grinned as he stared at Shannon.  He knew what she tasted like and it was his secret.  She raised from the bed and he winked out of the room, satisfied for now.

***

Shannon awoke feeling tired as though she hadn’t slept in a long time.  Why am I so tired still? she thought.  For the rest of the day, Shannon couldn’t drink enough coffee or energy drinks to keep her alert and awake.  It reminded her of pulling an all nighter yet she slept for over eight hours the night before.  When she got home from school, she ate a quick dinner and went to bed, her mind and body completely exhausted.  Never knowing why she spent the day with her eyes half open, Shannon drifted off to a peaceful slumber.