On Motivation

Posted in writer's block, Writing with tags , , , , on May 12, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

I don’t want to write this blog post.

Today, I have the motivation of a skink. It’s literally taken me two hours to write this much. Yesterday I wrote four chapters of “Guts and Glory” book 3, but today I can barely blog.

Motivation. Where does it come from? Why does it go away? And how on Earth do you stay motivated enough every day to keep going, even when you would rather turn on the TV and drool into your ice cream for 8 hours straight? I know that to get from A to Z in the career I want, I have to do something to push towards that goal every day, but some days — and even back-to-back days — I just can’t. You could say that really, I just don’t want to, but when it comes to creative writing, “can’t” and “don’t want to” are very similar. After all if you don’t want to write, that reflects in your work and everything ends up stinky. So it’s not just motivation to write that’s needed, but motivation to want to write, which can be a lot trickier than just forcing yourself to sit down and smash keys.

Sorry, but this post isn’t going to wrap up with a pretty list of motivational ideas, unless those ideas are in the comments in which case they belong to you, and I thank you for them. I myself don’t have the answers, just a blog post with a dichotomous purpose: asking for ideas and forcing me to write something today, even if it’s not much at all.

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Another Excerpt from “Guts and Glory” Book 3!

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

Emily

I sat in the back.

I always sat in the back.

My little brother stood at the front, next to the teen spokesperson. I was torn between feeling left out (as always) and being happy I wasn’t noticed.

When us teens woke up in Nil, Mom barely noticed me as her kid. Instead, she said everything was okay and that Glory had saved us all. I love my little sister, but my mother is my mother too, not just Trevor and Tabitha’s. And as I sat and watched the meeting between the kids and the teens, I couldn’t push down the feeling that had been growing inside me for days now.

Like I wasn’t quite a Tate.

“We teens know the kids helped take the curse off us, so thanks fer that an’ all, but ya can’t ‘spect us ta follow kids inta battle!”

The teen spokesperson was not much more than a kid herself. Her name was Wendy. Mom’s work again. She’d told us all that we should choose names from Earth, even though none of us were from there. But Mom insisted that Earth names would give us independence, since none of us could remember our Nil names, and At Igh Schoo we were only named after our ranks. I was only a Mindseer for a short time, but the name had stuck more than “Emily” ever did. And my tattoo, like all the teen tats, remained on my face: a blood-red tear down my left cheek. Even then, I felt more like Mindseer than I’d ever felt like Emily Tate.

“I’m willing to work with the teens, but we are in command,” my brother said. His voice was a lot more powerful than I’d ever head it. He’d definitely grown up a little since we came to Nil.

Wendy laughed. “Yer in command ‘a the kids, sure. But the teens ain’t gonna follow ya. Why would we? We’re bigger an’ stronger an smarter than any kid could ever be.”

“Because we saved your sorry butts, that’s why!” Trevor said, leaning in to Wendy and squeezing his fists at his side. “And why are you talking for them anyway? You’re barely older than me!”

Wendy didn’t flinch. “Because, KID, I’m a leader.”

“Some leader!”

The crowd gasped and parted to make room for the new voice – a teen I vaguely remembered seeing somewhere, at a time that seemed long ago. His red hair was super short, shaved almost to his scalp, and as he looked around at the crowd of kids, teens, and zombies, his green eyes flashed in a way that made me shiver. His mouth was a thin, tight line, and he wore all black, with the exception of a red hoodie two sizes too big for his lanky body. Around his neck was a circle of black feathers, and his face was tattooed with a tribal spike down one side – the rare tattoo of a commander.

Then I heard my brother make the weirdest noise I’d ever heard, like a cross between a groan and a scream. I turned to look at him, and his face was so white I was worried he’d faint right then and there.

“F— Fist!” he gasped, his eyes wide. “What… how… where—”

The new teen stopped walking and, to my shock, bowed low at his waist, sweeping his arms back in a grand gesture like some kind of old-fashioned lord.

“Guts the mighty leader ‘a the Dark Crows! I salute ya!”

Trevor closed his mouth and shook his head hard. “H– hello Fist,” he croaked. Then he seemed to notice the crowd again, and cleared his throat. “What— what brings you here?”

Fist smiled, his thin lips rising at the edges just barely enough to notice. “Ta take my rightful place leadin’ the teens, ‘course.”

Guts blinked.

Wendy sucked in a sharp intake of air. “How dare—“

Before she could finish, Fist took two long, gliding steps to the front and shoved her roughly aside. “Move over, soldier,” he snarled at her. “Or didya think rank didn’t mean nothin’ nomore?”

“B— but Fist, you’ve never even wanted to be a teen,” Trevor stammered. “Why would you want to lead them?”

“Easy,” Fist said. His voice changed instantly back to nice when he spoke to my brother. “If a Tate’s in chargea the kids, then a Tate’s gonna be in chargea the teens, too.” He put his arm around a very uncomfortable Trevor and squeezed. “After all, brothers gotta work tagether, right?”

Kinesthetic Learning as an Adult

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

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It’s funny what we think we know. Logic can serve us well, or, if imperfect, it can lead us far off the path we wish to tread.

My own logic, for example, is almost comically imperfect.

Pathos, Logos, and Aramis — I mean Ethos — are the three pillars of critical thought. In order, they mean emotional, logical, and athoritic (athoritical? Authority..cal? Hmm…) proof. In other words, we use these three tools to prove something is true in academic study. Personally, I’m stronger in pathos than the others, though I absolutely understand the importance of ethos — trusting authorities who have done a ton more research and work in an area than I have. Sometimes these pillars can be abused, such as when a crooked politician uses ethos and pathos alone to convince the masses he’s correct, or, in my case, when only logos is used… and the logic is flawed.

I am a kinesthetic learner. That means I have to actually do something to understand it. If you just tell me or show me, I’m not going to retain anything. I’ve known this ever since 6th grade, when I was invited to the “smart” kids’ school because my best friend went there and they had a bring-a-friend day. I did such a great job that the teacher was confused as to why I wasn’t enrolled. She even called up my regular teacher to ask. The reason? I made D’s and C’s. The “smart” kids made A’s. Funny thing was, if I had gone to the “smart” school, I would have made A’s because they taught kinestheticly, as opposed to the “regular” school that taught exactly the way I didn’t learn. The “smart” school teacher understood this and got angry, but there was nothing she could do. I continued to go to the school that was wrong for me simply because I couldn’t do well enough there to go to the one that was right.

Frustrating, but I learned an important lesson — I wasn’t stupid, just different.

I used that lesson through middle and high school, and while I didn’t get perfect grades, I did okay for myself. College and graduate school were even better. I learned what I wanted, how I wanted, earning my Bachelor’s as valedictorian and my Master’s with a 4.0. You’d think I’d remember all that as I continued to learn after school.

Yeah… not so much.

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog (and thank you if you have!) I’ve been going through a new adventure lately, trying to learn how to sell my books and get myself into the industry as a viable (read: respected by my colleagues) author. Now, my logos thinking told me there were logical steps to take to go about this that made sense. They were, in order:

  • Write the book
  • Edit the book
  • Publish the book
  • Tell people about the book online
  • Wait for people to read the book and thus, care about it
  • When the people cared about the book, then they would come to the website, watch the videos, buy the next book, etc.

So, logically the LAST steps would be to:

  • Finish the website
  • Write Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. to an audience that’s already there because they already care about the book
  • Keep posting videos, again for an audience that’s already there because they already care about the book

This made sense to me. I was using logos, after all. LOGIC! The ONE of the three pillars of critical thinking that NEVER LETS YOU DOWN.

Turns out, I’m not even part Vulcan.

Another part of my logic was that writing anything about… well… writing… on here would be pointless, considering how many other writing blogs are out there covering the exact same thing. Pointless, redundant, and a waste of my time to tell people what everyone else has already told them a million times.

All this, of course, flew in the face of what everyone was telling me. I have friends in the industry who I love and respect beyond this world: published authors, agents, editors. All of them have given me advice. I can imagine how many authors like me — unpublished in trade but wanting to be, unagented, unable to write full-time — would kill to be in my place. People pay good money just to sit with an agent or editor for a few minutes, and here I had them as friends, telling me what I needed to do in everyday conversation… for free! But I blew off that coveted advice. Blew it off! Why?

Because to me, it wasn’t logical.

*Facapelm*

This brings us back to the way I learn. They told me things. I didn’t get it. They showed me things. I didn’t understand. I argued because it didn’t make sense that anyone who hadn’t even read the book would care to follow me, watch my videos, go to my websites, etc. Why would they? What would be their motive if not to learn more about books they already liked? This was LOGICAL dangit!

But I had forgotten two vital things about myself:

  1. Logos is not my strength.
  2. I learn by doing.

Lately, I have begun to dip my toes into the “illogical” waters of my friends’ advice. I’d like to say I came to my senses, but to be honest it was more of a pathos response. In other words, I was discouraged by the results of my own logos-fuled decisions. So, begrudgingly (“it doesn’t make SENSE dangit!”) I turned to ethos, and finally listened to the authorities who had been trying to teach me all along. What was that advice?

Act like I already have an audience, and they will come.

What?

But, as illogical as that seems to me, the results, though small at this moment, have been a lot more encouraging even within the first day or two, than in months of following my own logic. I’ve Tweeted about both my book and my blog even when nobody seemed to notice, replied to other people’s Tweets, posted on Facebook in what felt like a vacuum, worked more on a website it has felt like nobody would ever visit, and continue to upload videos to a Patreon only two people follow. I’ve stayed positive when I felt anything but. I’ve been upbeat, excited, and prevalent. Does it still feel like I’m screaming into a void? Most the time. Are people responding anyway? Yes! Not tons — not even tens — but enough to keep me going.

I’m doing it, and thus learning how. This is my strength. I can’t forget that.

Still doesn’t make any freaking sense though. Grumble

A Sneak Peek at Book 3!

Posted in Reading, Writing with tags , , , , , on April 27, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

The actual writing of books is an isolating experience. One in which readers don’t hear much about the stories they’re waiting for. Taking that into consideration, I’ve decided to post the first chapter of Guts and Glory book THREE! here so you can have a sneak peek at what I’m working on. Happy reading! ~ JC

The Legend of Guts & Glory: Book 3 (Title Pending)

Guts

*WHACK*

*WHACK*

*WHACKWHACKWHACK*

Back and forth, up and down, my new sword hacked at the weeds of swampy Noc. Some were slashed off instantly, others — the big ones — took a few more whacks. I didn’t mind. Those were the most fun.

*WHACK*

“Might wanna aim higher,” a voice said from behind me. “I hear those ‘dults’re pretty big.”

“WHO–” I spun around in the mucky swamp floor. My boot didn’t.

*SMACK*

Face, meet mud.

The voice laughed. I looked up, wiping green muck from my eyes, and saw a girl I’d never seen before.

She was a Teen — I could tell that from the three-stripe tattoo under one brown eye — but she looked about my age. I figured she couldn’t be older than 13 but since Nil Kids don’t celebrate birthdays, she wouldn’t have known if I asked. She had darkish skin, and black hair pulled back into a tight braid. She was skinny everywhere but her face, her round cheeks even rounder from the huge smile she was giving me. Like everyone from the city of Nil, she wore layered rags, heavy boots, and old tires on her arms and legs for armor. Unlike most, she carried no weapons that I could see, though she did have a few multicolored ropes tied around her waist. From them hung a floppy leather bag.
She leaned down and held out a gloved hand, still smiling like a loon. “Yer mighty-tighty Guts the brave! Hero ‘a Nil! Right?”

I took her hand and pulled myself to my feet. “Something like that,” I muttered, trying to wipe big slabs of mud off my knees. “You know it’s dangerous to sneak up on someone who has a weapon, right?”

She laughed again. “I ain’t too worried ‘bout YOU anyhow. MUD-MAN.”

“Mature,” I muttered. Spotting my sword in the muck, I picked it up and wiped it off as good as I could on my dirty pants, careful to keep the sharp edge away from my skin. It was small, curved, and made of a few different metals patch-soldered together. It wasn’t much more than a glorified knife. At least, on the outside.

Gripping the hilt, I flipped a hidden switch under the hand guard. With a FOOSH! of electric blue sparks, the blade lit up in dancing lines of electricity. Books had been pretty excited about that.

“See? It matches yer buzzballs!” He’d said when he showed me.

To my satisfaction, the girl jumped back a little.

“You know me,” I said to the girl, flipping the switch off again. The sudden loss of blue light made me realize how dark it was getting. “But who are you?”

“Goin’ by the namea Wendy fer now,” she said. “I’m here ta take ya ta the meetin’.”
I grimaced and sheathed my sword. “That’s what I was afraid of.”

She turned in the darkening shadows. “C’mon Hero ‘a Mud. They’re gonna start fast.”

Groaning inwardly, I followed Wendy-the-Teen back to Camp Zombie.

 

I’ve Gone AUDIO!

Posted in children's books, Reading, Writing with tags , , , , , on April 25, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

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YO! Scribbler’s decided ta make a audiobook transmisshun ‘a “Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine”! Check out Chapter 1 here, an’ happy readin!

So THIS is What it Feels Like

Posted in Mental Health, Writing with tags , , , , on April 25, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

Snoopy-midlife-1

Without going into detail on very personal matters, it’s contextually important that I mention I went through some traumatic experiences not too long ago. I wasn’t the only one hurt, and not even the one most hurt, but it did effect me in a deep way. That said, I have had over a year of healing, and at this point life is fairly stable and peaceful.

Recently I have found myself feeling… odd. At first I thought it was a continuing, though muted, pain from that experience, and in fact it could easily be mistaken for the logical conclusion of my personality metamorphosis from it. But something has niggled at my brain that this is different. The changes in me from the trauma are, at this point, mostly positive. I’ve grown and learned, become stronger, more mature, and more responsible. To be fair, I am also a lot less trusting and more cynical too, but even those, when used properly, can be very good things.

This feeling… is anything but good.

I’m going to attempt to describe it, both for your own understanding and mine. It looks, on the surface, like depression. Sleeping a lot, loss of interest in what used to make me happy, lack of energy, all of that. But I have gone to a therapist for it and gotten nowhere, plus each of these symptoms has a strange added caveat I’ve never heard of in any of my depression studies. I’m sleeping a lot BUT only because I’m tired; when I’m not tired, I don’t want to sleep, though I don’t really know what I DO want to do. I have lost interest in the things that made me happy BECAUSE I feel like they should have evolved inside me somehow, and it all feels so… repetitive now. Like I’ve grown as a person, but my interests haven’t, and I’m not sure why or how to change that. I have a lack of energy BECAUSE I’m not doing anything to build up energy because nothing sounds worth it because…

What’s the point?

Depression often has no rhyme or reason. You feel that way, and you can’t break free because you can’t understand it in the first place. I’m not only understanding this, I’m actively trying to study and change it. Every day. It’s not that I’m staring at walls, lost in my sadness. I’m staring at books, trying to find an answer to it. The big difference, I think, is that I still have MOTIVATION. Every day. To break free somehow. Yet it still feels futile. And the worst part is, it feels futile for a reason. It’s a conclusion I’ve come back to again and again.

I’ve already done everything I possibly can within the boundaries of the life I am capable of leading right now. In a word, life has gotten BORING. And in a way that is, well… depressing.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. With that in mind, I have changed up things in my life a lot lately, from moving to a different place to changing my financial attitude and habits, to crossing over into videos for my books. I’ve literally tried everything I can think of to create a turn in my path. Or a twist. Or, hell, even a little BUMP. But it remains as straight as it ever was, running into the horizon until it feels like the only thing that will change anything will be death itself.

And today, my brain finally told me what this IS, and I almost stopped breathing at the realization.

THIS, my friends, is what a mid-life crisis feels like!

It’s mostly touted as a joke in our society. Middle-aged man buys a Porsche. Middle-aged woman gets a boob job. Haha. Look at how silly they are, wanting to be young again. But I think nobody has actually explained WHY they make those choices at that particular time in their lives. It’s neither shallow nor, really, an attempt at regaining their youth. At least, not physically. No, it’s an attempt at regaining the HOPE and EXCITEMENT of youth. Plans made with nothing but potential ahead. Looking forward to the great unknown adventure that is life. New milestones to experience.

At 40, I have experienced almost all of those. And while some of them have been wonderful, some have been downright terrible. Still, either way, at least they were something.

I might have grandchildren to look forward to, though with how society is right now and how my children feel (which I don’t begrudge them at all), that may never happen. I might, still, have trade publication to look forward to, but after two and a half decades trying a million different tactics to get even a TOE in the door, that, too, is starting to look like a silly, frayed hope from yesteryear. I may be able to buy a house someday, but not if I stay where I am in my job, which pays the bills but gives no leeway for saving or paying off debt for credit fixing, and while I am thankful for that stability at least, I’m not seeing any place for advancement at all. In fact, one of my co-workers has been there for 11 years, and has had NO chance to move up the ladder in all that time.

In the end, I’m just… stuck… on a path with no more surprises, no more adventures, no more ANYTHING. And that, my friends, is what a mid-life crisis actually feels like.

Maybe I just need to buy a Porsche.

Thank You

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

As I type, my beauteous friend Kitty is editing the first chapter for Scribbler’s Storytime. I’m feeling a strange kind of anxious, like this is the precipice of something huge that will change my life forever.

I’m at work. The day job. And everything here is as it should be. Calm. Collected. Organized. Just as it has been since I started here last July. There is no indication that today is any more special than any other day.

And yet, I’m feeling the universe… shift.

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t done videos before so it’s exciting. Maybe it’s the whole new everything I’ve been working on these last few months.

Or maybe it really is the start of the rest of my life.

In any case, this feeling has given me thoughts of those who brought me to this place. I haven’t done this alone, and while it may be a bit premature, I want to make sure that I acknowledge those who have worked side-by-side with me through this journey.

From the very beginning to today.

So here is a list of people to whom this is a shout out, from earliest in my life to most recent. Thank you — so much — for your part in this great adventure I am on. Without you, some vital steps would never have happened. You have encouraged me, supported me, and cheered me on, and I will never, EVER forget that.

  • Sue Edmiston (AKA Mom)
  • Joanna Crichton (AKA Grandma)
  • Jill Charles
  • Beth Engelhard
  • Misty Robins
  • Anthony Sandoval
  • Cisily Sandoval
  • Conrad Sandoval
  • Jessica Suzanne Turner
  • Kim Thacker
  • Deby Fredericks
  • Kelly Milner Halls
  • John Bladek
  • Jairus Kelley
  • Erin Greene
  • Ronnie Ryno
  • Tim Martin
  • Shelley Martin
  • Nick Jensen
  • Molly Severns
  • Kaye Thornbrugh
  • Debi Schwartz
  • Robert McDonell
  • David Morris
  • Stephanie Regalado
  • Jill Roberts
  • Lesley Sabga
  • Roget Rachford
  • Ksenia Anske
  • Jessica Douglas
  • Brandie Maxwell
  • Kitty Keighley

Please realize that this is not an exhaustive list. It does not include the myriad of teachers, professors, professionals, friends, and family who have, at one time or another, given me encouragement, read my book(s), taught me how to be a better writer, and a billion other things. Those listed here are simply the ones who I can say have cheered me on the most consistently through the years, started me on a major part of my career path, and / or worked hard to edit, draw, paint, and otherwise perfect my worlds. If you’re listed here, it’s because I remember you as someone who gave me hope and help when I most needed it. If you’re on this list, you know why.

And you are thanked beyond words. Truly. Thank you.

John M. Cusick

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