Tag Archives: fear

Starting an email list: An act of courage

Remember your eighth grade dance? We called them sock hops. I say eighth grade because it was late enough in the game so you didn’t go to dances just to run around and play with your friends, but early enough (for most of us) so you weren’t real confident about your appeal to the opposite sex. What was the one thought that haunted you?

What if no one asks me to dance?

Well, here I am a forty-something struggling writer with thirteen novels under my belt and I find myself confronted by the same exact thought. It’s not a sock hop this time, though, and it’s not my sex appeal that worries me. But still…

What if no one asks me to dance?

You see I’m starting an email list intended to promote my books, my poetry, my blog—my art. But what if no one signs up for it? What if my effort is rejected and I become a pretty little wallflower that no one wants to dance with?

And yet, that’s the chance all artists take when they put themselves and their work out there. You might be rejected. You probably will be, actually. If you believe enough, you persevere.

So, to sweeten the deal a bit and make it less likely that I’m left standing in the corner while everyone dances around me, I’m adding a little weight to the scales. Sign up for my email newsletter before January 1 and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, the winner of which will be announced in the first newsletter. If you’ve already signed up, you’re already entered. Here’s the link to my landing page for you to sign up: Email List Signup.

So go ahead, ask me to dance. What have you got to lose?


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Facing fear of publishing (with excerpt from Movie Magic)

In January I made the usual New Year’s resolutions: eat healthier, exercise more, etc. But I also made a resolution I had never made before. Fight fear.

Fear has held me back my entire life. I’m a timid person by nature, though I’ve overcome much of that through the love of my family. Yet still, I have more than my share of phobias. Spiders, stage fright, dentists (that’s a big one).

I haven’t overcome these phobias, but I have forced myself to face them. Just last week I smashed a spider that had my daughter cornered. In a gesture at fighting off my general timidity, I recently took the opportunity to travel with my son to Germany. And I tried out for and got a bit part in our local theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol”. So, yeah, I’m working on it.

And this morning, I went to the dentist for the first time in…a while. My teeth are still sore. Like everything, I began to draw a parallel between sore teeth and publishing a book.

When you write a novel, you bare a part of your soul, and the more covering you can pull away (just like the dental hygienist did to my teeth this morning), the better your writing will be. And just like my teeth, which are now sore and more exposed to temperature changes, so the writer’s soul becomes exposed to critics.

The temptation is to keep part of the soul covered. A thin veil. Remove yourself from the story and tell yourself it’s the characters’ story you’re telling. And while this is true to a point, the truth is, the writer is in every story she tells. And once that story is published, the writer is exposed. Perhaps this is why Emily Dickinson published less than a dozen poems in her lifetime. So much of her soul exposed through her poems might have been too much for her to bear.

So publishing is a leap of faith in our own work and our own souls. It might be ignored or disliked or even loved, but it’s bound to be painful in one way or another. With that thought in mind, I present a taste of my soul in the form of an excerpt from Movie Magic:

“What’ll it be, Cowboy?” Her eyes flickered over him in a just slightly less than shameless fashion.

“What would you recommend, Gypsy?”

The woman looked pleased that he remembered her name. “Depends. Are you just here to drink tonight, Walt, or are you eating?”

“You know I’m not going to pass up the burgers.” He leaned on the bar. “We want beer. Maybe one of those pepper beers you guys are so proud of.”

The woman raised her eyebrows and looked at Sabrina. She nodded, her appraisal obviously satisfactory. “Two ghost brews coming up.” She reached beneath the counter and with a flick of her wrist produced two bottles with a label bearing a picture of an ethereal white spirit sporting a pirate hat. She stopped short of handing it to them. “They’re on the house if you do that trick again.”

“Which trick?” Walt raised his eyebrows, trying to look innocent.

“You know which trick.” She uncapped the beer and set it in front of him.

He glanced at the beer, then back to her. “You got a glass?”

“Better than that. I’ve got a bottle of cheap beer back here. You don’t even have to waste yours.”

“What if it doesn’t work?” He looked anxious.

Sabrina laughed and Gypsy grinned at her. “I like this one. She’s got faith.”

“I kind of like her too.” Walt’s sideways grin warmed Sabrina and she couldn’t help smiling back. Walt tapped the bar. “Bring it on, Gypsy. I’m up to any challenge tonight.”

Gypsy let out a whoop that attracted the attention of everyone in the bar area. By the time she’d set the bottle of beer and a glass in front of Walt, the other patrons were crowding around. Sabrina enjoyed her front row seat as she watched Walt pick up the bottle, unscrew the top and take a swig. Then he upended the bottle on the bar with a flourish, somehow not spilling a drop. The crowd oohed appreciatively, then waited as Walt placed a coaster on the bottom of the upended bottle, flipped it back over the right way, then upended it again over the glass. When nothing happened, he pretended to be confused, peered inside for a second while Sabrina and probably the rest of the crowd held their breath, then held it over the glass again, removed the coaster and tapped the bottom of the bottle, producing a gush of beer into the mug. Walt handed the mug to Gypsy with a bow while everyone applauded.


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Nothing to fear except irrational fear: The monster under the bed

I get ready for bed. I turn out the overhead light and realize I forgot to turn on the bedside lamp. No big deal and certainly not worth turning the overhead light back on for the short, uncluttered distance to my bed, right?

I walk bravely through the dark room to the bedside. I reach for the extra pillows and toss them aside. It’s very dark. And very still. My ankles feel particularly exposed.

Too still. Without waiting to pull the bedcovers down, I jump on the bed and laugh at myself. I’m not four. I’m forty-four. And I’m still afraid of the monster under the bed.

I think about the monster under the bed quite often. I’ve never seen him, but he’s been with me since I was little, moving from one bed to another, one room to another, one house to another. I imagine him as two long arms with grasping, reaching, pincer-like, warty, green hands. What’s at the other end of those arms is a mystery because, of course, he doesn’t exist. He’s the curse of too much imagination.

Or is he? I think the monster under the bed is irrational fear, and irrational fear comes in many forms. In today’s world, irrational fear can seem frighteningly realistic. Ebola. EV D68. Russia. ISIS. All of them grasping, reaching, strr-etcchh-iinn-ggg to reach bare ankles from under our beds.

My monster hasn’t reached me yet, but maybe that’s because I’m too fast for him. I can still jump up on the bed and snatch my ankles away too quickly for him to get me. But what will happen as I age and slow down? In spite of what you might think, forty-four is still pretty spry. Maybe I should test my irrational fear, stand by the bed in the dark with my bare ankles and feet pointing toward the monster. If he grabs me, I can give him a good, sharp kick in the face, right?

And maybe he wouldn’t since I know he’s not really there. Probably.

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