3 Reasons Why You Need to Finish Your Book

Life is hard. Time management is hard. Writing a book is an emotional roller-coaster. (Can I get an "amen" from all the other authors out there?) It steals your concentration for other tasks, keeps you awake at night writing or brainstorming, and consumes you until you feel you've made some progress for the day. But it's also a great adventure—a roller coaster worth riding.

I didn't go to college to be a writer. I didn't study the art of writing or the how-tos of constructing a plot or storyline. I wasn't born into a family of authors. 
I wasn't an expert by any means when I first began writing for an audience; but, I have learned these things along the way. 

When I started writing my first book, I was a reader and a journal writer with a passion for a good story. I felt I had a calling to write a book someday, but had no idea when or how. When the plot and storyline came to me like a hurricane uprooting my house, I knew I needed to sit down and put it into words or I'd never get over it. It was a burning passion that I knew my life would be incomplete without and I needed to finish it—despite its many challenges. (Especially because I had no idea what I was doing at first lol).

During my journey I learned that if writing a book were easy, everyone would write one. Why? Because I  found that there's nothing more creatively rewarding (in my opinion) than to dream, write, and finish a book. It's definitely a calling to be a career-writer, but if you have a story to tell and have already started writing it, you need to finish it. Why? Here are 3 reasons: 

1) You should always finish what you've started. There's nothing like starting a project and becoming unmotivated or overwhelmed during the process—only to give in and give up. You've done it, I've done it—we've all done it. It stinks. 

Friends and family ask us how it's going, not knowing we've already thrown in the towel. We experience the shame of confessing that we gave in to defeat and never finished the task. We make excuses and try to justify our failure, but in the back of our minds we know that it was us who chose to be defeated. Worst. Feeling. Ever. Don't let your manuscript for your novel fall into the same pile of regrets. Shake your fist at the challenges that arise during your quest to finish your work and refuse to settle for defeat. Figure out what's not working for you and brainstorm a solution to keep moving.

Trust me in this! You'll feel so good about yourself knowing that you set out to accomplish a task and did.

2) If you give up on finishing your book, it'll nag you for the rest of your life. Years down the road it'll resurface in your thoughts and make your stomach twist in regret. Don't do this to yourself. Those who live with regret in their old-age tend to be the meanest, most negative individuals that have ever walked the face of this planet. (You know the people I'm talking about!) No one likes to be around a Negative-Nancy. So, do yourself a favor and take care of anything today that could cause your future-self to live with regret. (This can apply to any area of our lives!)

3) You have a story to tell and the world deserves to hear it. You've worked hard brainstorming, outlining, writing line-after-line, constructing chapter-after-chapter. You've dreamed up those characters of yours, and to let their story go unfinished, would be like strangling the life out of them with your own typing fingers. 

You owe it to yourself and your characters to finish writing the story you've started and the world deserves a chance to read it—long after you've breathed your last breath. Your story will outlast you. Leave a legacy of words that your children and grandchildren will cherish, long after you're gone.

Writing a story is difficult. It's time-consuming. It's a battle that wages war over your mind, sleep and concentration. It's a roller coaster with many ups and downs. But it's also a journey worth taking.

Finish something today that your future-self will thank you for. Then do it again. ;)

What has been your biggest challenge for completing your novel? If you've finished the process, what helped you finish? Please share your tips in the comments below. :) 



How to Not Mess Up Your Writing

Have you ever been overwhelmed with writing the perfect story? Did you research and google, and seek out expert advise about what is defined as good writing? Have you ever become so overwhelmed that you messed up your story trying to fit every other writer's definition of good?

I have!

I google everything. Which means that my interests—such as writing, get a lot of entries from my devices. How to... What does... Why... all corresponding to my curiosity to improve the way I communicate my prose to anyone besides myself. I know what I'm trying to convey in my writing, because I'm the author. But that doesn't mean everyone else will! So I'm always looking for tips on how to improve.

But this week I learned something valuable about my quest to becoming a better writer. I questioned, and googled, and continually worked on improving my craft. But then I became overwhelmed by everyone else's opinion of what good writing was and messed up my story because of it.

On my quest of becoming a better writer I ended up confused about my own story. My writing may've been good to begin with, but because I listened to everyone else's opinion and changed my writing accordingly, I looked at what I'd written and realized I hated it. I'd strayed from the initial story I was trying to tell, because of all the changes I'd made to fit everyone else's tips on how to write. If the author of the story doesn't like what they've written, how is anyone else supposed to? That's when I decided I was finished listening to everyone else and focus instead, on writing something that I'd want to read.

You see, I've discovered that what someone else approves as good writing, may be what another sees as terrible. One writer may use basic sentences to construct their prose and another may choose to add a sense of poetry to their story. Both styles can be interpreted as good or bad, it just depends on who's reading it.

Am I saying that writing shouldn't be clean? That it shouldn't be well thought out and flow nicely? No. I'm saying that everyone has their own opinion, and opinions exist about good and bad writing. No two writers are the same—even when both are bestselling authors.

One writer may get rejected by twelve different publishing companies because of their writing style and get a book deal with another. Another writer may become a bestselling indie author because of their writing and another may sell less than ten copies.

Bottom line?

Good and bad writing is interpreted by its readers. I've read some books that I didn't particularly care to read again, and they were on the bestseller's list. I've read other titles that were indie and so fresh and so real—compared to some titles that were distributed by major publishers.

My advice on becoming a good writer is to focus on two things: telling the story you've dreamed up (not someone else) and appealing to a specific group of readers.

1) Outline your story really well. Know what the underlying message is. Have the scenes planned out really well. Know your character well: who they are, why they are the way they are, what their flaw and goal are and whether they will overcome it or not. Stay focused on the story you're trying to tell and on how you want to tell it—not how everyone else thinks it should be written.

2) Imagine yourself as a reader of your book. Some questions to ask yourself are: Who do I want this story to appeal to? Who am I writing this story for? Would I want to read my own work—not because I wrote it, but because it'd consume me until I finished the last page? What writing style do I want my readers to enjoy as they're consuming my story? And...stick with it. :)

Writing tips are great and I learn a lot from them. But at some point I need to throw out what the experts say and just write. I'll leave them to creating a story that they feel is perfect in their opinion and I'll write one that I'm in love with.

Just as we should dance like nobody is watching, we should write like no one else's opinions matter. Once we finish our first draft, then we can go back and apply those fabulous writing tips the experts gave us, in order to tighten up our prose. But until then, just write. :)

Have you ever messed up your writing? How so? Do tell us in the comments!



How to Find Time When You Have None

We all have a million-and-one things we need to do everyday. Between work, school, family time, extracurricular activities, staying in shape, paying bills, making phone calls, going to appointments, emergency chocolate runs to the store—all of our days are booked in one way or another. ;)

I'm one of the busiest people I know, not only because of all I have on my plate, but mostly because I'm allergic to not being busy. People ask me how I manage all that I do and I tell them all the same thing, "When it comes to not having time, people make time for the things they want to do. I just happen to want to do everything!" (cue maniacal laugh). ;)

I may be able to fit a lot of different extracurriculars into my schedule, but I know there are people who struggle with adding anything to their agendas outside of work and running errands. And I've gotta tell ya— that's no way to live! If you're one of these people that seems to always be bogged down by life's obligations and no time to fit anything else in, you've come to the right place. Today, I'm going to help you learn how to find time when there is none. :)

How is that even possible? How can you find something that doesn't exist? It's actually very simple. :)

As I said before, people make time for the things they want to do. No matter how busy our schedules are, we can always find time—if we know how to look for it. Think about it this way: If I want to catch the latest episode of my favorite TV show, I make time for it. If I want to go out on the weekends with my friends—I make time for it. If I want to sleep in on a Saturday morning, I make it happen! (See where I'm going with this?)

Whenever I start feeling like I have no time to live life outside of what I'm required to do, I begin to feel trapped—like I'm a prisoner to ten different agendas. When I find myself in this position I decide that I need to re-prioritize my life, or I'm going to throw everything out that I need to do and go play at Disney World instead (and let's face it—as much as I'd love to live everyday at Disney World, eventually I'll need to return to the reality of being a grown up).

So, instead of going nuts I decide to find a solution to my schedule problem. Are you ready to see how I do this? I'm going to show you how with a few easy steps:

1) Write down your current schedule:

-Take out a pencil and paper and make a Monday-Sunday calendar on a sheet of paper (nothing fancy, just so you could divide up the days of the week and fill them in).

-Think about the things you're required to do on each of those days and write them down where and when they apply (ONLY write down what's required such as: work, school, mealtimes, sleep, etc.)


5am-3pm: work
3pm-4pm: drive home
5-6pm: dinner prep/eat/clean-up...

Got it? Okay, let's continue :)

2) Now, think about how you spend your time on each day of the week—outside of your obligations.

-Add these activities that occupy those "extra" hours in your schedule and the time-frame they typically correspond to. When you're finished, move on to the next step.

3) Now that you've outlined your typical daily routine, evaluate what you've written's shocking right? You've found an hour here, a half hour there, fifteen minutes between event A and B—you've found time that you can open up to spending on the things you want to do in life!

Pretty great, right? :)

There are 24 hours in a day and most people spend 5-8 hours sleeping, 8-12 hours working, and the remaining amount of time...wasting it! Don't do this! Stop. Just stop it, right now! Re-prioritize your daily routine and start living life to the fullest. MAKE time for the things you want to do. Time is a gift—don't waste it. :)

So, now that you've found this "extra" time that you could spend working towards "living life," it's up to you to make a goal, commit to working on it during the time you've found in your schedule, and use it to enjoy life outside of your obligations.

If you have a goal, but always seem to fail at it—whether it's because life keeps getting in the way of it, or—you make excuses every time life happens (we've all done it! ;), I encourage you to read my post about making goals and keeping them.

What are some things you've been wanting to do that you never seem to have the time for? What are you going to start working on now that you've found the time in your schedule to do so?

Share with us in the comments below. :)



How to Write Empowering Stories

Life is full of different scenarios and most of us experience the emotions that come with them. While I may not have the same experiences as you or the guy down the street, we're all human and will feel most or all of the emotions that human beings are prone to, at least once in our lives. Some of these emotions may include: joy, despair, anger, rage, frustration, anxiety, contentment, worry, and fear.

Some experiences may be awesome—they'll make us look at life and be thankful for what we have and who we share our journeys with. Other situations may be terrible, horrible, no good, very-bad day experiences. :)

While I believe that no matter what life throws at us—we control our own destinies; I have also experienced and have come to understand, that life can throw us curve balls that leave us blindsided. We can't control the crappy decisions others make that effect us or those around us, but we can control our reactions to them. If we're writers, we can use our crappy experiences to change someone else's outlook on their current situation—or even their life in general.

I was raised to believe that if we think positively, then positive things will happen. This also came with the counter idea that if we think negatively, then negative things will happen. Obviously, we're going to have times where it's hard to look at a situation and be positive lol. However, we can take those experiences and use them to breathe life into a new plot and storyline, by using the situations we encountered and the emotions we felt from them, to create a journey through words that may inspire someone else.

I love characters that overcome fear, because I can relate really well with them. I lived in fear for most of my life, until I decided that I was tired of it. That I was tired of my past dictating my present and my future. I've come a long way in facing those fears and not letting them rule over how I live my life today; but, there are still some things that I may read or hear about that paralyze me with fear for a few seconds, until I'm able to think rationally through my thoughts. But like I said, I try not to let fear dictate the decisions I make today; instead, I come up swinging.

As you read the novels I've written (once I'm satisfied with them enough to share those precious pieces of myself to the world), you'll see that many of my protagonists are females that struggle with fear in some way. It may be that they're forced into a situation that they feel they have no control over and they're afraid of what the future holds for them, or it may be that something horribly tragic has happened to them and they're trying to learn how to live life after the fact. But my goal is never to present to you a damsel in distress, because I don't believe that someone should ever allow themselves to take on such a title—even in a situation where they would have every right to. No, I believe in kicking the ass (excuse my English, I'm just a little passionate about this subject) of whoever would try and put someone into a situation that would cause them to distress in the first place. I believe in fighting back and snatching control right out of that person or situation's hands. I believe in justice and that's why I write.

Don't get me wrong, my stories aren't sad and tragic lol. They are full of what-if situations, characters that people can relate with, and crappy decisions that other characters make, who choose to be selfish. But they're not tragic. Like I said, I believe we make our own destinies and that includes taking the bad and turning them around for good. I hope that when you read my books you'll see what I'm talking about and that my writing will even cause you to laugh, cry, get angry over, and ultimately—see hope for overcoming your own struggles in life. I hope that the plot and storyline of my novels will cause you to root for the protagonist and other relatable characters and that, in turn, it'll cause you to root for yourself.

So, to sum all of this up: use what you've experienced—what you know, to write a story that will be relatable to someone else (seeing that we're all human and experience joy, fear, anger, and anxiety, at least once in our lives), and that it'll inspire them to shake their fist at life and to fight back.

There are power in words; so take your experiences and write them in such a way that they'll be used to change someone's life. :)



On Making Goals and Keeping Them

Hello awesome readers! I know it's been almost a month since I last posted (shame on me!) and I'm so sorry about that! My life has been crazy lately, especially with my college classes.

Have you ever felt like you were barely keeping your head above water and more water kept being dumped on your head? Yeah, that's how college has been for me lately. (But it will all be so worth it when I receive that diploma!)

But I have been writing and working on a few projects for my current novel. Some of these tasks include: revising and editing the second draft of my novel, putting together a "soundtrack" for it, and collaborating with a sketch artist to bring to life my main characters by charcoal. I cannot wait to share all of these things with you!

Concerning my not posting for almost a month now, I wanted to chat with you all about how much this has been bothering me and what I've decide to do about it. You see, I'm a very goal-oriented person and when I want something, I make a goal and then start figuring out how to achieve that goal.

I make goals for everything. Yep, everything from writing chapters in books, to running races, to making grocery lists. I make goals All.Of.The.Time. Not just on December 31st. :)

Fortunately, I'm also very good about working on my goals and fulfilling them.

Some current goals that I've been working on include:

-training for this year's 10k race
-training for next year's Disney Princess Half-Marathon
-finish writing the second draft of my current novel
-earn my Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education
-get my house organized how I want it

Working on attaining these goals has been going great, but I've been bothered about how long it's been since I've posted on my blog. So, I decided to solve the problem that's been bothering me, by setting a goal for it to make sure it doesn't happen again. :) Surprised? Me neither. ;)

If you haven't guessed where I'm going with all of this, I'm going to share tonight about making goals, working on goals, and fulfilling goals.

So, without further ado, here are my tips:

1) Decide what you want and why you want it.
-To attain a goal, one must first make one (Duh Heather!).

No, but really.

In order to achieve a goal, you must first figure out what you want and decide that you're going to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The decision making process—while seeming quite simple, is actually a tad more detailed than you'd expect.

If you can't figure out what you want and why you want it, how are you going to keep a goal that you never specified in the first place? There's a big difference between saying, "I want that blue sweater, because I think it'll be perfect for that work party that's coming up next month," and "I want that sweater so bad to wear to that work party next month, and I'm going to do a, b, and c to get it!"
Did you see the difference? Okay good. :)

2) Once you decide what you want, write it down and make it specific. Why be specific? Because if you're not, you'll end up altering it to fit your (ahem) unmotivated self when that point hits (I've done it, you've done it, we've all done it— no judgement here!) and we know that it inevitably will. So when you're writing down your goal, be specific enough that when the lack-of-motivation stage hits you, the written contract to yourself will be a reminder of what you wanted when you first started and why you wanted it in the first place. Sound fair enough? Okay, good. Moving on. :)

3) When you've decided what you want, why you want it, and you've been specific about it enough that it'll drive you to finish what you started, make a plan (a specific and realistic one that you believe you can keep) of how you're going to work towards achieving that goal.

Ex. Say you want to lose 30 pounds by January 1st, 2016. Okay, that's awesome! Now make a specific plan to achieve that goal.

Try this: "I want to lose 30 lbs by January 1st, 2016 and I plan to do this by 1) going to the gym for 30 minutes a day, 3 times per week 2) using an app to track my daily steps and 3) counting calories. My gym days will be Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I will pack my gym bag the night before those specified days."

See what you did there? You brainstormed a specific plan that you believe you can stick with and wrote it down. ;)

4) Mentally prepare yourself for the fight (yes, the FIGHT) ahead of you to keep that goal. Why? Because the moment you decide what you want and why, you've been specific about that goal, and brainstormed a plan for how you're going to achieve it, life will decide to throw you a million and one distractions to keep you from working on it. It's kind of just the nature for how things work in life.

The good news? If you prepare yourself for your fight against the inevitable distractions, you arm yourself against the excuses that come with them, when they try and persuade you that you've already failed.

Expect the distractions and the excuses to come against you as fast as you're reading this post— because they will! :)

Prepare yourself for your fight by writing your specific plan down and putting it somewhere that you will see it everyday. Announce to your family and friends what your goal is and how and when you'll be working on it. Let them know that you will be unavailable for anything else during those times and days, because you have an appointment with your goal. Then ask them to remind and encourage you with your written contract to yourself, should you start making excuses or accepting defeat from life's obstacles.

5) When you've prepared yourself in all the ways stated above, make the decision that you're not going to let Timmy and his Granny convince you that what they want or need help with is more important than you being true to your word. Help the people you care about in your life by all means, but if it's not an emergency, schedule them in during a different time. Remember, your goal achieving time-slot is already taken. If you give in to any and every request that comes your way and replace it with your specified goal achieving time, January 1st 2016 will come around and you'll totally be bumming that you fell off the band wagon again.

You can accomplish anything you put your mind to! But you'll need to fight to make it happen.

6) Now, the most awesome part about making goals: achieving them!

-There is nothing like seeing the hard-earned fruits of your labor in front of your eyes. You think back on the journey and remember how sweat, blood, and tears were all a part of it, but you decide quickly that you wouldn't go back and trade the process, or your great reward, for anything.

-You realize that the process of attaining your goal, created determination, perseverance, and faith in yourself and what you think you could do (and how it's so much more than you had originally thought), and how grateful you are to yourself for fighting for what you wanted in life.

-You realize that when people told you that you couldn't do it, when life told you that the cards it dealt you were not in your favor, and when you told yourself that you didn't have what it took to achieve your goals, that all of you were wrong...and that you're a winner.

A wise and wonderful role model of mine once said, "If you can dream it, you can do it."

This guy was actually fired from a newspaper company because they told him he "didn't have enough imagination." This man with no imagination was Walt Disney! (Lol, I bet they're kicking themselves now!)

But seriously, if you can dream something up, or decide on something that you want in life—you can do it. All it takes is the idea, the decision, the specific plan, and the will to fight for what you want in life to make your goals and your dreams come true. I dare you to make a goal and make it happen. ;)

You are your biggest enemy for failing, because ultimately, it's YOU who decides your destiny, not the obstacles that life throws at you. If something major happens and you need to adapt and overcome in order to continue working towards achieving your goal, then by all means, adapt and overcome! Make a new plan—one that works for your new situation and keep the faith that it is still possible to reach your destination. :)

Wait...I almost forgot! As far as making a goal for posting on my blog goes- I decided that my goal is going to be: to post at least once per week by Sunday morning. I plan to work on my weekly post on Saturday afternoons, once softball games are over. If you don't get an email notification of a new post by Monday morning, I give you permission to chastise me by email and hold me accountable to keeping my goal. :)

What are some things you've always wanted to do or places in your life where you may be slacking in and want to do something about? Share with us in the comments below. :)