Monday, October 31, 2016

31 Days

A year ago, I had [these] thoughts about life.

Not much has changed.

Be happy.
Be you.
Forgive.
Forget.
Heal.
Love.
Love.
Love.

until next year ...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Art of Moving On

Moving on is a figurative term that can be taken in the literal sense if the healing requires. It isn't easy, and for a temporary moment in time, can even be painful. But in the end, it is almost always necessary.

I spent many years in the town where I graduated high school. I had only my senior year there, but knew everyone in my senior class from grades 7-9 at which time I moved away after my parents divorced.

I thought that because I had known some of these classmates since even the 6th grade, that they were people I could trust and that they were my friends. But length of time known should not be a deciding factor in who you count as friends, and even less of a factor in who you should trust.

I left that place more than six years ago, and all of those people. Many of them were probably very surprised when I disappeared and cut ties. But when I really looked at my relationships with some of them, it became apparent that things were very one-sided. They were not healthy relationships for me, and some of them were even thinly veiled toxic relationships.

Look at what you need in your life and the person you want to be. Eliminate the things that don't bring you joy and peace. Because the bottom line is that only you are responsible for your own happiness. If something doesn't make you happy, change it.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Unpublished

If you haven't published your story, and have no intention of publishing it, there are a few different things you can do to close that chapter in your life.

You can ceremoniously burn it. Or unceremoniously.

Share it outloud at a support group meeting.

Tie it around a rock and drop it off a boat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, or the Pacific.

Grind it up in a blender and bake a cake out of it and mail it to your abuser. Although, if there is a restraining order preventing you from contacting that person, I wouldn't recommend it. Even if there isn't a restraining order, it probably isn't a good idea. In fact, just scratch that idea. If they were to choke on it, you could be in a bit of trouble.

Seriously, though, being able to close a chapter in your life, being able to heal and move on may involve doing something symbolic that signifies the end of the old you and start of the new you.

I know of someone who has kept every hurtful letter, voicemail, email and text message ever sent to them. Why? I'm not sure. The claim is so that they can remember what people have said because there is apparently some kind of forgetfulness, or memory loss. Whether or not that is true, I don't know. I think that it serves no other purpose than to keep old wounds open and fresh, never allowing them to heal. I also believe that someone who does that must live a very miserable and unhappy life.

There have been many people in my life that have hurt me. I choose not to remember the hurt, and in some cases, the person. I don't like to continually reopen old wounds by remembering the things people have said or done to hurt me.

Let yourself heal. Let go of the painful memories and move on. I can almost guarantee that the person who hurt you isn't hurting over the fact that they hurt you. They probably don't even remember what it was that they said or did.

Why should you?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Healing

Writing, or rewriting, your life story isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of cure for what ails you. Sometimes it has to be done in combination with therapy, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. Sometimes you will need a "battle-buddy" to keep you accountable, to keep you on track, and to keep you whole.

Healing is a constant process sometimes. Like recovering addicts, you always have to stay one step ahead of the nightmares.  One step, one day, one hour, one moment. Whatever it takes to get you through the day or the night. That's not to say that you won't ever heal. But there is no set time-frame for healing. It's not like a cake recipe where you know how long it has to bake. Healing is different for everyone.

Sometimes you have to make some pretty major life changes, especially when you realize that you've been making the same pain-inflicting choices over and over again.

We are all creatures of habit. We tend to stick to what is comfortable. Even when it isn't comfortable, we still might choose it because we know what it feels like, we know how to act, or react. We love that flannel shirt because it fits just right, and it is soft and comfortable, and there might be holes in the elbows, and stains on the cuffs, but don't you dare throw it away.

Adult children of alcoholics, addicts, or abusers sometimes choose those same types of people as our parents were. Not because we want to, but because subconsciously we know how to behave around them. It is like that flannel shirt. It fits who we think we are based on who we were and what happened to us.

To change those patterns, we have to change who we think we are. You have to stop thinking of yourself as a victim of what happened. Instead, think of yourself as the victor, that you survived, and that you are going to break the cycle. Not just break it for yourself, but break it for your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

If you are trying to heal from an abusive marriage or relationship, do an honest inventory of every relationship you've ever had including friendships. How many of them were abusive? Not just physically, but verbally, emotionally, psychologically, or sexually. If you see a pattern there, do an honest inventory on your family history next. How did your parents treat each other? Not just how they treated you, but how they behaved towards each other.

Our first role models for relationships are our parents. They set the standard for almost every other relationship in our lives. If you didn't have parents, and grew up in foster care, look at whether or not it is difficult for you to trust relationships. Do you self-sabotage because you expect to eventually be abandoned?

You have within you the power to change your life. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reviews

Okay. You've written a book, self-published it, and promoted it. You've even had some sales. Here is where you have to have a thicker skin than what you needed when pitching your book to big house publishing companies.

People are going to review your book after they've read it. Some of their reviews aren't going to be nice.

Don't take it personal.

Remember, this is your story. Your life. Your healing process. What someone else thinks about your book really doesn't matter at all. Really. I know that some online book stores (yes, like Amazon) do push those with a lot of good reviews up to the top of their search responses. Do not care about that unless you really wrote your book for money and not healing.

The thing is that you are not going to be able to make every reader like what you wrote. Especially someone in denial about their own issues. There are also some people who are just so unhappy in their own lives that they want to make other people as unhappy and miserable as they are.

Misery loves company, remember?

You can have a gazillion reviews that give you an A++++++++++++, and love love love love your book, and give you 200 gold stars. There might be just one hatefilled review, with a negative five stars, and you will read that and just wish you never wrote a book and never published it. You'll be so hurt and angry that you will decide to take it off the market and archive it and never write again.

Yeah. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.

If you do that, if you decide to trash it and never write again, you are letting them win. You are letting those voices in your head determine your worth, and who you are.

Don't do it. Don't listen to them. Don't believe one thing that they say. It is not true.

They weren't there. They don't know what it was like wearing your shoes. They. Don't. Matter.

You, however, do matter. Your healing matters. Your health matters. You matter. Do not believe anyone who tells you that you don't.

You write all you want to get rid of those demons inside of you. The ones keeping you awake at night. The ones you have nightmares of. The ones that make you afraid of the dark, or afraid of the light, or afraid of anything at all.

Write them out of you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Promoting your book

If you've made the decision to have your book published with a self-publisher, all the promotion for it will fall on you.

I ordered postcards from CreateSpace with the cover of Trooper's Run and the promo description of it on the back. That allowed me to mail them out to friends, family, and random complete strangers.

I also occasionally did street fairs where I sold and signed books. You can do as much or as little as you want and can afford.

Creating a Facebook page is also a great idea, and creating ads on there will also give you some promotion. You can decide your audience, and pay per click after you set a budget.

Word of mouth is also great, just be sure to ask everyone you know who reads your story to post a review (hopefully positive) to Amazon.com or one of the other book stores online. The more positive reviews you have, the better chance that your book will float to the top of search engines.

There is also the option of promoting your book on BookBub.com although it is a little expensive, but they do have a very large audience that they reach.

You can also create coupons for use on Smashwords.com that will allow readers to get your book for free, or for a discounted price, for a period of time.

Be creative in how you choose to promote your book, especially because you won't have a big house publisher telling you how to do things. Contact libraries or small book stores and ask if you can have a signing event there. Most will say yes, unless they are a large book store, like Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million who have to get corporate approval first. Bringing people in to see you will also bring people into their store, or the library.

If your book deals with surviving domestic violence, PTSD, or another traumatic event or tragedy, and you have a positive or encouraging word for other survivors, consider donating some books to a shelter or organization.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Now what?

You've written it, edited it until you can't see straight, had friends or family proofread it, shipped it off to a publisher, and picked a cover.

Now what?

Depending on the publisher you have chosen (or who has chosen you), they will most likely have someone who writes your back cover teaser. They will give you a short version for the back cover, and a longer version that will appear on websites. Along with that, you will want to give them a long and short bio to include with it.

Acknowledgements can go in the front or back of the book.  If you choose to include one, you may not want to include last names of family members depending on how they might have been depicted in the book. I included the names of people I had interviewed for Trooper's Run.

Choosing to add a table of contents is optional. I didn't include one in Trooper's Run, which worked. I did, however, add one to Eagle Visions which in retrospect, I wish I hadn't because it came out looking incomplete.

When you get your final proof to review from the publisher, it will come as a book. Cover and everything. Make sure you review it thoroughly because any changes or corrections after this point will come with a price tag. You may even want someone else to read it also, and not the same person who did the proofreading for you. You want fresh eyes that will catch omissions, typos, or grammatical errors.