Finding a Co-Author is Finding a Soul Friend (Guest Blog Post by Professor Gore)

I was born into a family of literati.

No one recognized that I had a talent with language because everyone did.  The best evidence of this? At nine months old, I hollered out in the night.  Mother rushed to my bedroom and flipped on the light. I said clearly, “Mommy, let’s visit.”  Instead of realizing how remarkable this utterance was coming from a nine-month-old, she closed her eyes and said, “Dear God, why, oh why did you give me such an annoying child?” She flipped off the light and went back to bed.

The first person to acknowledge and encourage my skill as a wordsmith was my private music teacher and junior high band director, Maestro Wilson.

He would catch the subtlest of quips I would tender during our lessons and laugh out loud.  He would twist them and flip them back at me. I would toss him a pun and he would toss one back.  By ninth grade, band kids would fill his office on Friday afternoons to watch our official pun wars.  We were fierce and worthy opponents.

I adored him and began to think of him as a second father, one who made time for me, while he began to think of me as his daughter.  We became anam cara: soul friends.

Almost as exciting as word playing with Maestro Wilson was that when I was excited about a book, I would give it to him, and he would read it. I gave him O Ye Jigs and Juleps and he laughed and talked about it with me for days.  

He stayed up all night reading the terrifying Rosemary’s Baby after I gave it to him.  We talked about it for weeks like a father and daughter would. I began to see myself through his eyes, and that made me feel like I could be a writer.

I declared English as my major in college.  But my mom’s friend, a first-grade teacher who was like a second mother to me, said, “Millie, only six people in America can make a living as a writer at any one time, and honey, you ain’t one of ‘em.  I’m not going to look across the street when you’re thirty and see you living at home with your parents supporting you because you got a degree in something that you can’t make a living at. You have to change your major to Elementary Education.”

We argued, and argued, and argued, but she refused to go home until I promised I’d change my major to elementary education.  

That ended my dream of becoming a writer.  I became a teacher, and although that wasn’t what I’d wanted to do with my life, I was a great teacher, won awards, was highly valued by my administration, and was adored by most of my students.

Over the years, I sold a few small articles and stories, but teaching is so demanding that I had little energy to devote to writing.  

However, after I finished a doctorate degree at age 40, an academic publisher offered me a contract based on my dissertation.  That first book was followed over the next twenty years by four others for parents and teachers.

But I was yet to write what I was aching to: a picture book for the children of LGBT parents.  I wanted it to be lyrical with a beguiling cadence, filled with metaphor and subtlety, and based on the Hero’s Journey.  A book as much for parents as for children. And I wanted a co-author to share the journey with me.

Only one name came to mind: the teacher who had made words such fun for me. My second father. Maestro Wilson.

Recently widowed, he agreed that we would talk one hour every night, seven nights a week, until the book was complete.  

Over the next months, I taught him about the Hero’s Journey and about same-sex families.  I taught him about character development and how plot grows out of characters rather than characters being forced to fit a plot. I taught him about dialogue and beats, eliminating adverbs and using strong verbs.  

Then we began creating our characters, King Phillip and Don Carlos. We developed the men’s back stories, knew their strengths and vulnerabilities, their triumphs and defeats, how they met and fell in love.  

Maestro Wilson is Hispanic at heart, having grown up in downtown Santa Fe where his brothers of affinity had names like José or Carlos.  He was called Felipe (the Spanish form of Phillip) even by his father, and when he’s tired, lapses into a gentle Spanish accent. So Don Carlos grew from Maestro Wilson’s soul.  

We began creating the Blue Star and baby Milliflora, and although that process was different from creating the men, their essence emerged from my soul.

Every day I’d write based upon what we’d talked about the night before.  Then I would email the maestro what I’d written, and that night, he’d read the draft to me and we’d re-work it. Because he was a musician, his ear for the rhythm of language was magical.  

The next day I would write a new draft based upon our discussion. We continued writing every night for five months until we had created our perfect 1000-word story, All is Assuredly Well.

We have six more books to go in this series.  We’ll have the second book, Most Assuredly Well, ready for our illustrator on January 1.  

The first person ever to recognize my literary skill was my teacher, my soul friend, my second father: Maestro Wilson. I was eleven, and he a grown man with three children and four more to come.  Now, more than a half century later, we’re having the time of our lives writing together. Each book will be one of our legacies to children and families. Our message? The only ingredient necessary to be a family is love.  Shared DNA not required.

 

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Professor M. C. Gore holds the doctorate in education from the University of Arkansas.  She taught first grade through graduate school for 36 years in New Mexico, Missouri, and Texas.    She was a professional horse wrangler and wilderness guide and continues to play clarinet in two community bands.  She is Professor Emeritus from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas where she held two distinguished professorships. Her books for teachers and parents are shelved in over a thousand libraries throughout the world.  She is retired and lives in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.

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How Depression Affects Relationships and What to Do About It

How you deal with your depression may very well decide whether your relationship will end before the depression does. One study showed how major depression leads to negative life events such as divorce. Not only that, but your spouse may become depressed, too, as they struggle to manage things you aren’t able to do because you’re mired in negativity.

Your spouse may be your greatest support. The best way to thank her or him for that is to deal with your depression as quickly and completely as possible.

Easier said than done, right? However, there are some things you can do for yourself to decrease the severity and length of your depression.

Avoid Ruminating

Ruminating means turning something over and over in your mind without solving the problem you’re thinking about. Some people call it wallowing. Think of it as dwelling on problems rather than solutions.

Research has shown that people who ruminate a lot when they’re depressed have more numerous and severe depressive symptoms. So, instead of thinking about how bad you feel and everything you feel has gone wrong, choose more positive thoughts.

Change the Way You Think

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment method used by therapists to teach you how to identify problem thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts. Through cognitive restructuring, a key CBT technique, you learn to look at your situation differently.  You can work with a local therapist or an online psychiatrist to change your thinking through CBT.

Take Positive Action

People who are depressed often have a hard time taking positive action to improve their situation. Many do break through their feelings of being stuck though, and you can, too. Start with CBT. Then, go further by putting what you learn into practice every day.

Take action on your own, or talk to your partner about how you can work together to solve problems. The benefits for your relationship can start even before the depression lifts. Just the fact that you’re collaborating with each other on these issues can bring you closer together.

Confide in Your Spouse

Confiding in your spouse about your depressive thoughts and behaviors is a good way to check your perceptions and thought processes. Assuming your spouse isn’t depressed, too, she or he can help you develop a more balanced view and provide a more positive perspective.

Do Activities You Usually Enjoy Together

You might not feel like going hiking or taking an evening to go have dinner and see a play. If an activity has been a source of joy for the two of you in the past, though, your spouse may miss it. Honor the support your spouse offers you by doing what you can to support them, too.

Seek Help

The most important thing you can do for your relationship is to seek help for your depression as early as possible. With early intervention, you can overcome your depression faster and stay well longer. You can learn appropriate ways to deal with your depression within the marriage and when you’re on your own.

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie-Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Blog Tour: Renegade Skyfarer by R.J. Metcalf

 

About the Book

The airship crew saved Ben’s life from a dragon, of all things.

When Ben wakes up, he has no memory of his family, his home, or how he got to this strange world. All he knows is what his new crew members tell him: the magical Barrier that protects their land is weakening. Unless they find the artifact that can repair it, all of Terrene will be destroyed and enslaved by the enemies beyond.

But when Ben suspects that danger may lurk closer than dragons or sky pirates, he has to decide: stay and fight with the airship crew, or focus on regaining his lost memory? If he leaves, he risks losing his newfound friends–but if he stays, he might never return home.

Welcome to Terrene–where dragons exist, the past haunts, and magic is no myth.

Welcome aboard the Sapphire.

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About the Author

During the day, Becky is a stay at home mom of two active little boys. When she has ‘free time’, she enjoys reading, writing, baking and sewing.

After many years of creative writing classes, writing fanfiction drabbles and daydreaming, it was high time to start writing her husband Mike’s story. She dove into the world of Terrene and hasn’t looked back—except for when she runs out of dark chocolate.

Any free time not spent in Terrene is typically expended on hosting dinner and game nights, running amok with the two little monkeys or watching nerdy movies with Mike.

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Let’s Party!

Calling all book readers! Join author RJ Metcalf as we chat about her fantasy novel RENEGADE SKYFARER on July 6th from 8 PM to 10 PM EST (7 PM CST and 5 PM PST).

Grab your favorite drink and snack and be prepared for a fun time of chatting with RJ, games, and giveaways.

Special guests S D Grimm and Jamie Foley, Authorwill also be sharing their books and joining in the fun.

RSVP Here

 

Giveaway Time!

Want to dive into a new world or in need of a good book? Enter to win a signed print copy of Renegade Skyfarer, a Stones of Terrene notepad and pen, Notebook of Writing, and bracelet! (US only.)

>>> Entry-Form<<<

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 2nd

Tuesday, July 3rd

Wednesday, July 4th

Thursday, July 5th

Friday, July 6th

Saturday, July 7th

Monday, July 9th

Tuesday, July 10th

Wednesday, July 11th

Thursday, July 12th

Friday, July 13th

Saturday, July 14th

Monday, July 16th

 

 

And now a special guest post from the author themselves, R.J. Metcalf:

 

At the beginning of Renegade Skyfarer, Ben Dubray wakes on an airship, unable to remember how he got there, where he’s from, or anything beyond his own name. The Sapphire crew takes pity on him, and allow him to stay on board for a spell, provided he helps out around the ship when needed. He works hard–but it doesn’t take long for him to realize that he’s in over his head.

 

Ben’s morning starts with him staring at the paneled wood ceiling above his bunk on the Sapphire, listening to Geist’s snores, and the faint sounds of Kerlee singing in the shower down the hall. Once he finally rouses, it’s a quick trip to the mess room to grab whatever breakfast the chef has served up. Ben isn’t a huge fan of breakfast, but he’s learned the importance of getting a meal when it’s available–and Briar makes a mean breakfast, so Ben really can’t complain much. Really now, who can argue with a pile of real scrambled eggs, fresh bread, and a cup of jav?

 

Typically, either Captain Stohner or his sister, Garnet, will come by and let whoever is in the mess know the itinerary for the day. Sometimes it’s just continued air travel, in which case Ben trains with Zak and some of the crew on dragon hunting methods, weaponry, and basic medicine for dragon-related injuries. But port days are the best.

 

Port days are simultaneously the busiest, and the most relaxing of all the time on the Sapphire. Ben will help the crew to unload whatever merchandise they’re moving–anything from textiles from Vodan, opals from Antius, or new steam-tech from Piovant–and then he’ll assist with loading the next shipment. After the hauling, securing, and inventory is done, the Captain will release the crew on rotation to go explore the city of wherever they are. That’s when the two mechanics, Jade and Krista, will emerge from their engine room and join Ben and crew for an excursion. Jade will drag Ben all over every port, doing all she can to help ‘loosen the brain gears’ for Ben, in an attempt to help his memory return.

 

And once those memories do start to return to mind, like wisps of fog taking form, Ben will have to decide if he’s going to share what he’s learning about himself, or if he wants to keep it a secret.

 

Aside from Jade’s personal goal to have Ben remember where he’s from, and why he was found where he was, the adventures in the city range from shopping for replacement parts with the ladies, checking out the tri-diskus tournament with the entire crew, spending the evening in a pub with the locals, or meeting with unsavory characters on behalf of Captain Slate and his personal quest.

 

That personal mission of the Captain’s just may be the thing that saves the world.

 

It also may be the thing that prevents Ben from returning home.

 

Guest Post: Why Authors Should Get Social on Social Media Networking Sites by Michael Okon

Hi Everyone! I am honored to share with you this amazing guest post from author Michael Okon on the importance of social media for authors. Enjoy!

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Why Authors Should Get Social on Social Media Networking Sites

By Michael Okon

Any serious author wanting to be discovered by readers knows how important it is to engage online. Whether we love social media or we hate it, it’s necessary for branding purposes. Authorship is a business. And like all businesses, you MUST actively participate in your marketing efforts. Social media platforms make this possible.

Truth be told, I actually despise social media. Yes, I said it. But that doesn’t mean I ignore it. It’s time consuming, and at times can be downright silly. All that follow to unfollow nonsense. Who has the time? I’d rather be writing than worrying about getting and maintaining followers.

At first, I did most of my social media management on my own. Trust me, I wasn’t an expert and I recognized that pretty quickly. There’s no shame in hiring someone to help out with your social media efforts. That’s what I eventually did, but I do still try to stay as engaged as I possibly can.

Now I have a team of social media experts who work tirelessly to get my name out there in front of as many potential readers as possible. Indie publishing is a tough business to be in and you absolutely need every edge possible to get people to notice you and your books.

If you don’t yet have the finances to hire a social media manager I implore you not to ignore this side of book marketing. Just posting once or twice a day on the biggies – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – will help readers find you. And don’t forget to comment, like and repost while you’re at it. Social media is here to stay so you may as well get used to it!

Michael Okon is a bestselling author and screenwriter. Monsterland Reanimated, Book Two in the Monsterland series, was just released on April 13, 2018 and promises to be bigger and badder than Book One. Michael invites readers to connect with him on his website.  

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Guest Post: My Top Five Tips For Writing Great Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels by Michael Phillip Cash

Hey everyone. I’m honored to share this amazing guest post from author Michael Phillip Cash. Be sure to check out his website and links down below, and don’t forget to follow the link to the Rafflecopter giveaway as well! Take it away Michael!

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“My Top Five Tips For Writing Great Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels”

By Michael Phillip Cash

When you’re just starting out as an author you may be tempted to heed the advice to “write what you know.” But what about writers who want to write in the Science Fiction Fantasy genre? That’s certainly not a world you’re going to have some knowledge of. But wait. Don’t get discouraged. You have a distinct advantage over some other genres. Everything you need to know about writing Sci-Fi Fantasy is already stored right in your noggin. That’s because it’s your world and you get to create every single thing about it. It’s known as world building and it’s awesome. As long as you keep some things in mind you’ll be good to go. Here are my top five tips for writing great Sci-Fi Fantasy books:

  1. Read, read and then read some more

Read every science fiction/fantasy book you can get your hands on. Study them like you would any other reference book. Learn from the masters. Take notes as you read. Don’t aim to copy, but use other books as jumping off points for your own unique stories.  

  1. Tap into traditional fantasy elements

It’s okay to include the standard trolls, elves, giants, wizards, warriors, or whatever. Just use them in totally different and unique ways. Use these tried and true elements, but do it as originally as possible.

  1. Combine basic writing principles in distinctly unique ways

Boy loves girl. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets captured by a ten-foot tall giant and girl must use her magical powers and her talking dragon to fool the giant into letting boy go. You get the idea. Much of what works in say for instance romance or another genre will work in fantasy. You just have to do it with a magical sort of imagination.

  1. Make sure your characters have dreams, hopes and goals

If your characters have nothing at stake, or nothing to overcome then no one will care what happens to them. When you’re creating your cast of characters, be sure to give them strengths, weaknesses, fears and flaws. Even fantasy characters have these and this is what will keep your readers invested in your story.

  1. Study old (and new) maps, and learn about different cultures and climates.

Maps are beautiful and artistic props to use as inspiration – particularly older maps. Imagine what it might be like to live in a foreign land. Research the clothing, tools and equipment other cultures use now and in the past. Considering what the terrain or climate might be like in your fantasy world will ultimately allow your readers to immerse themselves in your story.  

About Michael Phillip Cash

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Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novel The Battle for Darracia is a three-part saga and is available on Amazon.

Michael’s novels are best-sellers on Amazon under their genres – Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense, Ghost, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror. Michael writes full-time and lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wonderful wife and screaming children. You can follow him @michaelpcash or connect with him via his website.

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What Is Depression? (Guest Post with BetterHelp)

Hello there everyone. This is Anthony Avina. I am honored to be working with BetterHelp on this guest post regarding depression. I am a huge advocate for mental health awareness, and I hope this will be the first of many guest posts working with this amazing company to bring awareness to these very serious topics that affect so many people. I hope you guys will enjoy this article and if you or anyone you know is suffering from any sort of mental health disorder, please be sure to go to this website and find the necessary resources and support systems you need to help you or those you love. Now here is BetterHelp with a look at depression.

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How to Live with Depression

For those of us who suffer with depression, we know that life is not as easy for us as it is for other people. What makes it worse is that depression and other mental health conditions are “invisible” diseases so nobody can tell what is wrong with you just by looking at you. While some may think this is a good thing, it also makes it hard for others to understand why we may not feel like getting up and going to the beach with the gang or how it takes everything we have to just get out of bed on some days. In fact, I am sure some of you have heard “you are just lazy,” or “quit being so dramatic,” or my favorite “it is all in your head.”

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder that is very common in both adults as well as children. In fact, it is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression affects one in six people at some point in their lives, which is almost 17% of the American population. It is not just feeling sad or grouchy for a while or being upset because you lost a loved one, although that can trigger it. Depression is a group of symptoms that include:

  • Feelings of sadness that lasts for more than two weeks
  • Lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Sleep changes (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or sleeping more than usual)
  • Extreme fatigue or listlessness
  • Feeling empty or lost
  • Crying for no obvious reason
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Slowed speech or movement
  • Thoughts of suicide

Who Is Most at Risk?

While anyone can suffer from depression, it is more common in some people than others. For example, women are twice as likely to have depression as men. Other risk factors of depression include:

  • Hereditary – Mental health conditions such as depression can be hereditary so if someone in your family has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder, you may be more susceptible.
  • Chemistry – Many experts believe that a chemical imbalance (too much or too little) in the brain is a major cause of depression.
  • Previous mental health disorders – If you have had trouble with anxiety or depression before, you are more likely to have another bout of one of these mental health disorders.
  • Environmental situations – Many situations such as abuse, neglect, extreme poverty, or exposure to violence can make you more susceptible to depression.
  • Physical ailments – Certain major chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes can cause depression.

What You Can Do

The first thing you need to do is talk to someone. Even if you do not have a doctor or therapist, there are experts who are available to you that can help. In fact, you can talk to an online psychologist without even having to leave your home or make an appointment. These therapists are licensed and trained in dealing with depression as well as many other disorders. There are other things you can do in the mean time to make your life easier to deal with such as:

  • Exercise – Force yourself to get out of bed at least once a day and move around. Even if it is just to get up and take a shower and walk around the house.
  • Smile – According to experts, even a fake smile can make you feel happier.
  • Break things up – Do things a little bit at a time so you do not get overwhelmed. Thinking about all the things you have to do that day can be a major block but if you break things up into smaller tasks, it is much easier.
  • Talk about itTell people how you feel. Even if they do not seem to care, talking about it helps you understand your illness.
  • Goals Set some small goals for yourself. Talk yourself into doing at least one thing from that goal list every week.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore it and do not try to hide it. There is nothing to be ashamed of and it is more common than you think. Talk to someone. Today.

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Marie Miguel Biography

Marie-Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.