IT’S GOOD TO BE VULNERABLE! (WHY I REFUSE TO TAKE MYSELF SO SERIOUSLY.)

photo credit: Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement

 

Don’t take yourself too damn seriously!

Accept that you are vulnerable, and make peace with that.

Be fearless!

If I had said these things to my younger self, it would not have had much of an impact. I wasn’t ready. But at some point in time, other people said these things to me, and even though I still wasn’t ready, they planted a seed. And every time someone plants a seed, he or she brings us closer to eventual healing and understanding. It certainly worked that way for me because, despite my stubbornness, I am always listening, and I always want to be a better version of me than I was yesterday.

So, last year, I read the first criticism of my work from a reviewer. Admittedly, it wasn’t scathing; she had many nice things to say, but I was able to handle that in a way that I couldn’t have all those years ago.I was curious more than anything, and I wanted to understand her point of view.

It was because, by then, I had stopped seeing myself the way I saw myself at the age of seventeen and for many years to come—as the writer, the destined one, or, ack, some kind of chosen one. I had come to accept that I am one writer in an endless sea of writers— just another voice in the choir.

Some people don’t like this perspective—at all. Back then, I would not have liked it either.

I’ve heard, in response, “You have to take yourself seriously or no one else will, right?”

Oh yes, for sure, but we can be serious, and we can be too serious. For me, the shift in perspective, from taking myself too seriously to taking myself just seriously enough has worked well.

When we see ourselves as a part of everything and not the center of everything, we begin to want for others what we want for ourselves—success! We’re not in competition for that because we know there is enough to go around. When we’re taking ourselves too seriously, those other people do not exist except as competitors. It’s about us and us only, so whatever happens to us is more important than what happens to everyone else. Less than favorable outcomes are magnified and often unbearable.

It helps to take it down a few notches and strive for a little humility. That includes checking ourselves and questioning the motivation behind decisions we make.

It’s not as hard as it sounds, and, eventually, it becomes a part of who we are.

By striving to keep my ego in check, I’m in a better position to handle criticisms and failures because I don’t have to prove I am beyond reproach. I haven’t placed myself up on a pedestal where I see myself as superior to and separate from others. I don’t believe I am so important that my haters are just sitting around watching and waiting to laugh at me when I fail. If they are, then they’re wasting precious time and won’t be able to achieve very much in their lives.

What this mind shift does is; it gives us permission to be vulnerable—permission from ourselves because no one else is stopping us. Then, instead of worrying about what others will think, we just write from the heart. We focus on learning to master our craft—something we absolutely cannot do when we think we already have it all down.

Of course, we all want praise. We want the glowing five-star reviews. There‘s nothing more gratifying than knowing your work has touched someone profoundly or thoroughly entertained as intended.

Friends kindly remind us that we all face rejection and that no one is above criticism. That’s true; someone has criticized every successful writer we know. But hearing that is not quite as comforting as it’s intended to be, so we secretly hope to be the exception.

We might be—if we tiptoe around—if we ask only our friends for reviews. We’ll get fewer reviews, but they’ll all be five-stars, right? On the other hand, if we want to reach millions of readers, we have to throw ourselves fearlessly into the arena, making ourselves more vulnerable to criticism.

Writer friends have said to me, “But, what about the internet trolls?”

Well, the truth is, people who take themselves too seriously are the perfect target for trolls. They are the ones who will argue with the trolls, thinking they will somehow get that person to sympathize or agree. It won’t happen because trolls lack empathy, or, let’s face it, they wouldn’t be trolls. If they know they’ve upset you, they will continue to provoke you. You can’t get caught up in the futility of that.

At the same time, not everyone who doesn’t like your work is a troll. There is legitimate criticism. We can get it from beta readers, good editors, and yes, honest reviews.

When it comes to betas and editors, we want that person who will say, about a particular scene, “You can do better than that.” We get lazy sometimes even with so much at stake. It’s wonderful to hear someone say, simply, “Oh, it’s great, I love it!” But if you’re still trying to iron out the kinks in your story, that’s not going to help you. I want to know where they got confused, where they got bored, what annoyed them, what characters they liked and didn’t like. That will help me determine whether I’m getting the effect I want. Not everyone will agree, of course, so it helps to get several people looking at your work—people who are not afraid to be objective and possibly upset you. Personally, I will not beta read for most people because I know I will give the honesty that I’d want myself, and I realize not everyone can handle that. I have gotten upset myself once, but I got over it fast. We don’t always have to agree with someone’s criticism, but we need to be open to it.

My beta readers have me laughing hysterically with some of their comments, especially with things that need fixing or clarifying. A simple, “Really?” or “Seriously?” can have me in a fit of giggles. The times we are laughing together on the phone or in person are the most fun. Even if they say, “This guy sounds like a douche,” I’m only going to be concerned if he’s not supposed to be sounding like a douche, and then we talk that stuff out. A bit of lightheartedness and a good sense of humor is key.

In an early draft that I wrote many years ago, I had decided to start at the beginning of my character’s life. By page 455, she was still twelve! I can’t help laughing now about how ridiculous that was. I had so much to learn about brutal editing (cut, cut, cut), where to begin a story, proper outlining, etc., and I’m still learning!

In my latest book, Shattering Truths, I was anal about how I wanted to tell this story. It is deep and personal, not my story, but a story about things I had witnessed over the years and one that had become very precious to my heart. It’s hard to be flexible when you are that emotionally involved, and, honestly, we become emotionally involved in all of our books, so we are incredibly biased. I needed feedback, and then, simply, to let go of what wasn’t working.

The truth is, we never stop learning, and there is always room to improve! I’m sure even the most successful writers would admit that, so it helps to embrace the learning process. Our confidence will increase as we evolve.

It’s all about honesty and integrity, and just being the best you can be. 🙂

 

© Copyright April 15, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

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NEW CHAT AND FORUM FOR WRITERS AND OTHER CREATORS!

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As part of a community I’ve developed for writers and other creatives, I’ve added a message board and chat room to my website.

The message board has sections of interest to writers and areas for general discussion. Users may request additional topics that might be of interest to them.

A regular writer’s meeting will take place every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. EST. We can also arrange other meeting times. The room will be available for informal chat at any time.

I hope to have scheduled presentations and readings in the same chat room— by writers, editors, designers, advocates, and others. It would be a wonderful opportunity for people to promote what they do and to help others. Suggestions for presentation topics are always welcome.

Please note that presentations may not take place without approval, and presentations are always free. Presenters do not receive payment from anyone. I will, however, promote the event and provide moderation for the event. Presenters are encouraged to invite others.

You can bookmark the forum and chat room links:

http://somuch2talkabout.freeforums.net/

http://officialkyrianlyndon.chatango.com/

Or you can always bookmark my site for access. The links are under my Community menu.

https://kyrianlyndon.com/

We may eventually need additional moderators, but we’ll see how it goes!

Please share this information and these links with people you’d like to join you, or people you think might be interested in the promotional presentation opportunity.

Lastly, join my street team, and never miss a thing! It’s going to be exciting and mutually rewarding, I promise. Read all about it here!

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Photo #1 source by Surian Soosay

Photo #2 source by Elizabeth Cooper

 

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FIRE IN THE SOUL

Interesting conversations with readers give me a lot to think about, so I like to provide a platform for those conversations.

Someone recently brought up amateur/aspiring v. professional.

I have known people who create guidelines for when a person can call himself or herself an author (or even a writer). It’s the same with most artists. Are they amateur and aspiring or professional and experienced?

Many of us have had this burning passion or determination to do something since childhood. Ideas and urges came, and we responded. We delivered. I feel we know whether we identify as poets, writers, artists, musicians before we ever have a book published, show our work in a museum or get on stage with a band. We may be aspiring to succeed and to master our crafts, but we are not aspiring to be what we are.

I remember a fifth-grade poetry assignment. The kid behind me copied my poem. When the teacher (nun) caught him, he told her he copied it from a book. I imagine he thought he’d get in less trouble for that, I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted me to go down with him. Nevertheless, she believed him. She asked for the book, and I was so confused that I was trying to find this book that didn’t exist… in my desk. (Nuns raising their voices to me invoked terror.) Then something strange happened. All these kids began calling out that this boy was lying because I was a writer, and I had always been a writer… other ten-year-olds! Amusing as it seems, they touched my heart for a lifetime. She asked me again if I copied the poem from a book, and I finally found the courage to say I didn’t. She gave me a gold star and displayed it on the wall for Parent-Teacher Conference Day. I will never forget this; how the kids knew this thing about me because it was already part of my identity.

As another example, my nephew was drawing since the age of five. I have never seen anything amateur about his approach, his expression, or his final product. (As an aside, he’s amazing.)

People may tell you things like, well you’re not published, you’re not an author, or you’re not a writer, even though you have been doing this thing ever since you can remember.

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If there is anything to separate the amateurs from the pros, for me, it is the desire and willingness to give your best and give your all.

Pros focus on mastering their craft. They set goals. It is a priority in their lives, and they will devote as much time to it as is possible. They can’t “not” do it. They know the passion is the fire in their soul. It’s their heart. They know it’s who they are.

Whether we are good or not, that is another story, but we have control over that, too.

From early on, characterization and dialogue were my strengths. Description was my weakness. I was not observant. I kept my mind clouded with other things, the obsessions of the moment. Eventually, I realized I had to work hard on that area, and I did with much success.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we often feel we don’t measure up, as people, as artists. If we believe that, that’s when we work to get better: identify problems, find solutions, expand our knowledge, and hone our skills. The desire exists for a reason, and learning is perpetual. We can always do better. That is all a part of mastering.

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© Copyright February 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

ANNOUNCING SPOTLIGHT OPPORTUNITIES YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT!

Are you interested in reaching a new audience?

I’m looking for blogs, poems, photos, artwork, short stories, even a web series that would appeal to my readers.

The submissions should not be promotional links for your books/work/sites, and I’m not looking for anything that is too graphic. I prefer posts that enlighten, help, and inspire with focus on recovery, coping, healing, and evolving. Pure entertainment is wonderful, too! Humor is much needed and appreciated, as are joyous wonders of the world in art form. Work published on another site is fine as long as it’s your original work, and you have properly edited any text.

Contact me first to discuss whether your contributions would be a good fit. I am particularly interested in people who would like guest posters for their own site, so we can exchange. It’s not necessary, but that’s something I’m definitely willing to do.

If you become a regular contributor, you will get your own tab under the guest post menu, so that readers can find all your posts in one place. A little further down the road, I’ll have a contributor tab where regular contributors can have a more detailed profile, and that’s where their promotional and social media links would appear. They will also be eligible for ‘spotlight features’ where they can do an interview (audio, text, or video), read an excerpt, or something along those lines. A link to that feature would be on their contributor page.

If we determine that we can work together, this is how it would go.

When you create a blog you think I’d like to share, send me a link. If you want to share photos or poetry, just get them up on WordPress, Blogger, or your website.

I would need a bio and photo of you. If you prefer not to have an image of you, it can be a trademark or something else associated with you or your work. You won’t have to submit the bio or photo for subsequent posts unless you want to update it.

A feature photo to accompany the work is highly recommended either included on the blog or sent as a separate attachment. You must also provide the source for your feature photo so that we can give proper credit to the artist or photographer. If you are the artist or photographer, indicate that. If you are not sure where to find photos you can use legally with proper attribution, I can recommend a couple of sites.

If you have preferred hashtags for sharing, please provide them, or I will tag accordingly.

The posts will go up on my website under the ‘guest post’ tab. I would copy any text and then link back to the original blog in the copyright notice, which will be in your name, appearing before your photo and bio. I’ll send you the link to your post, and you’d have a chance to request any changes or even change your mind. Once you give your seal of approval, I’ll share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and possibly LinkedIn or Pinterest.

There may be a cutoff period for this offer, depending on the level of interest and my availability, but the posts would likely remain unless you request their removal.

Lastly, I would like to mention that I have created a private community for interesting discussions, exchanging ideas, and supporting others. It would fit in with the community/collaboration environment and could be a lot of fun. If you are interested in that, let me know. I’m thinking about adding a portal to that site on my website for easy access. It’s all about community!

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Photo by BK, original photo credit Jonathan Combe

© Copyright June 26, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

SPOTLIGHT: LAURIE KOZLOWSKI

 

Interview with Laurie Kozlowski

KYRIAN: Tell us your latest news!

LAURIE: My first book–a contemporary romance novella–Serendipity Summer, will be released by Booktrope Publishing in late October. It has been amazing to see what had started out as a popular blogging series a year ago, develop into a book. I’m excited to share Jake and Anna’s sweet, funny, and sensual story with readers soon.

KYRIAN: What were the challenges in bringing Serendipity Summer to life?

LAURIE: I’ve felt a strong connection to the characters since the beginning of the series. After taking notes on what I could do to improve during revisions and implementing many changes, I recognized the value in taking extra time to develop the characters. Even in a novella like Serendipity Summer, it’s easy to let things go that you normally wouldn’t with a full-length novel. With my editor’s help and several hours and weeks in edits, I am thrilled with how far this book has come.

KYRIAN: Do you write an outline before every book you write?

LAURIE: Yes. I start with a synopsis of the entire work as a general working outline. The synopsis changes and is updated as the work evolves. I keep it at no longer than a page. I also have a logline for each scene that consists of no more than two sentences summing up the objective of the scene at hand. Loglines are used in screenwriting to describe shows and films. I’ve noticed it’s helpful in fiction writing, also. The final outline I keep is a block outline on a huge sheet of paper to keep track of scenes. Blocks consist of numbered scenes that help me know where I’ve left off, and it comes in handy when I consider moving scenes around, so I can track them. Scene blocks consist of what character’s point of view the scene is in, the setting, the time/holiday/special event, plot points, notes, and anything else relevant to move the story forward.

I used the synopsis method for Serendipity Summer, my first novella, but am implementing loglines and block outline this time around for the second book. I admit, I can be pretty stubborn when it comes to outlining. I enjoy pantsing (as us writers like to call making it all up as we go along and doing the organization later.) Pantsing is an effective way to let the creativity flow to get to the end of a first draft. However, the downside to pantsing is the story could become chapters and chapters of a tangled mess. This isn’t always the case, particularly in shorter stories, but I notice as I build onto novella-length or larger books, it is vital for me to organize as I go. Outlines keep me close to the story and better aware of what is developing with characters, setting, and plots as I go. I have the relief of knowing if I take a few days away the outline is there as a checkpoint so I can pick up where I left off.

Each writer has their process, but I don’t know of one person who has regretted having an outline. I encourage writers to try different types of outlines until they find what fits for their story. It will prevent headaches as they revise, and it sets up the editing process to go smoother, overall.

KYRIAN: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

LAURIE: It would be fun to have Gerard Butler play the part of Jake and Julianne Moore as the lead actress if Serendipity Summer is optioned as a film.

KYRIAN: What are some of the ways you cope with stress or panic on a day-to-day basis?

LAURIE: I wake up, often as early as 3 am, to hear the quiet of the day before I go on with family and work duties. The silence that comes from beginning the day so early helps to focus on all the possibilities for the day. It is an opportunity for the blessings in life to wash over my thoughts before the noise intrudes. Since I live in the countryside, I often hear crickets or frogs, or in the fall and winter, the chilly wind blowing or a steady rainfall on the nearby patio. This kind of ‘noise’ is the kind my soul responds to with an expressive and warm love. It’s my favorite part of the day and does wonders to fend off the brunt of anxiety on a regular basis.

KYRIAN: How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?

LAURIE: I submitted my first short story at the age of nine, and I have been writing as long as I could hold a pencil. I think the early start of writing, reading, and my mother encouraging perfection in spelling and penmanship has altered my respect for the written word in a very positive way. A few helpful lessons I carry with me even as I write now is: have an eraser handy for mistakes because the process will humble and strengthen you all at once. Don’t give up; finish what you start; and even when the words seem perfect at the time, nothing is final.

Click here to read Heartstrings Attached, an inspiring personal story by Laurie for Spotlight Evolve.

Laurie Kozlowski resides in Northeast Georgia with her daughter and husband. Having small town roots, she’s intrigued with the charm, drama, and humor of the south, often weaving those themes into the fiction she writes. She enjoys incorporating family-centered themes and stories including friendship, hope, and healing.

When not writing, Laurie loves to make music and jewelry, picnic near the river, or catch the latest comedy or drama flick at a local cinema. She hangs out mostly on Twitter @LaurieKozlowski when she isn’t caring for her daughter, writing, or driving her husband crazy.

Connect with Laurie:

Laurie Books
Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Author Website
Blog

THE RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF A DREAM: THE HEART’S MOST REWARDING JOURNEY

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In the natural world, I don’t talk much about writing (though I probably should). When I do, people often open up about their lifelong passions. Most of them seem to feel that although they’d love to do something about those lifelong dreams, they’ll never get the chance. What I believe, though, is that those passions tell us who we are.

For me, it began with the The Wizard of Oz. (I think it inspired many writers.) I was four or five the first time I saw it. They had me at Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but every scene that followed left me spellbound. By the age of eight, I wrote fairy tales and years later went on to poetry. At sixteen, I wrote a novel. It was rather an aimless story, and my idea of a hero at sixteen should have been a big red flag—as in, you need therapy, Kid, but it was over five hundred pages! tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-005

Me Along the Journey

Me Along the Journey Then and Now

Another inspiration came to me at nineteen—someone else’s story that moved me. I submitted it directly to Random House, which you could do back then. They rejected it, but I followed up and ultimately learned they were willing to reconsider it if I reconstructed it in the manner they suggested. I was a cocky little egomaniac, so I didn’t. I scrapped that, too, and went in a different direction with Soul of a Child, my third attempt at a novel. It was the best of the three since I was learning to master my craft, but I kept getting sidetracked—relationships, work, other career options, illness, tragedy, one distraction after another.

Somewhere between 2003 and 2005, I began toying with the idea of reconstructing the three books into a series. Initially, I was too distracted to focus. I had to set small goals, just do it for an hour a day and then work up from there. As the momentum began to build, I made writing my priority. That meant waking up at four a.m. every day to work a few hours before getting ready for my job at a law firm. I may have fallen asleep anywhere between seven and nine p.m., but it was worth it to me.

In 2009, I completed the first book of that series, except I had started at the beginning of my protagonist’s life, and she was still twelve on page four hundred fifty.I realized then; I had been doing it wrong from the start. (This is why you need patience and resilience.) Not that I expect everyone to run into this particular problem, but there are plenty of problems to go around.

It occurred to me that, in this undertaking, I had tunnel vision. I was trying to get everything in and everything accurate as if someone had subpoenaed me to testify. Second, I was writing about my life. That hadn’t been the plan initially, but since such a peculiar story had developed, I felt compelled to share it. Then, starting at the beginning of a protagonist’s young life in a novel can be tricky—and boring if you are not careful. Charles Dickens, a master storyteller, pulled it off brilliantly in David Copperfield, but I obviously didn’t.

It was time to start over yet again. And this is all part of the learning process. You learn what a dumb-ass you are, and you fix it. That’s true of life, in general, if you’re doing it right, and it’s certainly true of writing.

I had to part with much of the material I initially wanted to include. As a writer, I knew that deep down. The emotional connection to this saga was blinding me. One of the first things we learn as writers is to write what we know, but it’s okay to learn as you go, to research, and to, quite frankly, make shit up. It’s fiction, damn it. If someone wants to write about his or her life, that’s great. It wasn’t working for me. Fiction is what inspired me, so I reached a point where it no longer mattered what actually happened to someone at some point and what didn’t. That made it a lot easier. I could focus on the storytelling aspect. Once again, the foundation had to be tweaked, all of that groundwork. I would end up with a fictitious story loosely based on a story that was true for someone at some point or another (as it should be). tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-010Isn’t that how it usually goes?

I went through thousands of pages of notes and poured over the old manuscripts. Eventually, I had everything organized into folders. Now and then, I show someone the obsessively, compulsively, and meticulously organized file folders on my hard drive, and they can’t believe what I’ve done here. I can’t believe it either.

My eyes were blind sometimes after a day’s work. I fought distractions like they were demons. I put together two volumes of poetry while working on this first book of the series and got one of them published. (The other will be out soon.) Those are good distractions, but there were not so good ones. And there were also sudden waves of anxiety (seemingly out of nowhere) not to mention the occasional moments of outright fear. I drank water, opened windows, got air, and just let myself breathe; reminding myself it will all turn out okay. My fellow writers understand this: Often it is just you and the moon, you and the rain, or you and the sun outside your window reminding you that life is passing too quickly. But it is, indeed, okay. In fact, most of the time, it’s quite peaceful and beautiful.

I have been fortunate to receive an abundance of praise thus far for whatever I have put out there. I am fortunate, too, to have wonderful friends and family members, particularly my son, my sister and my nephew, all of whom have cheered me on at every turn. Their encouragement and support mean more than they know.

I have writer friends who can attest to the fact that you will lose people along the way. In fact, when I was dreaming of all this at eight, I had no idea what a thick skin I would need. Some people will wage a personal passive aggressive war with you, and you can’t waste too much energy there. The “not enough to go around” syndrome is real, and the people who suffer from it perceive your gains as their losses. Leave them to sort it out. You don’t have to. People will get mad at you for even wanting what you want, or they want you to fail for whatever reason they decide. Let them. You did the hard work, earned your accomplishments, and that’s what matters. It helps to focus on that, keep working hard, and doing your best. The rewards come, and then they keep coming.

I know, too, that no matter how tough it may get, I’m in. I have always been a writer and will always be a writer. It’s what I do and who I am, and I’ll deal.I have immense gratitude for being able to do what I do and for the privilege of sharing it with others.

If you ask me, it is a miracle that I managed to get this far, but I have completed the first book of my series. It is now in the hands of my editor. It was such an insanely long journey that I marked the day and time, August 17, 2015, at 5 pm. And since all the groundwork is complete, the subsequent books in the series won’t be far behind.

It’s a trite saying by now, but if you don’t believe in you, no one will. For many of us, getting to that level and staying there is in itself, a journey. I know, too, we can always find reasons, excuses not to do it. You have to muster up some courage and become part of the celebration of triumph. As I see it, there are two corners, the cheering corner, and the grimace corner. Everybody in the cheering corner gets a taste of victory. Camaraderie begins, and it leads to making dreams come true. It’s contagious. In the grimace corner, they just continue to whine, criticize, and make faces. It’s about what’s in your heart. Ignore them. Just do it. I’ll be holding your hand from afar.

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© Copyright August 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WHAT IS THE HEART OF YOUR MOTIVATION?

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If you are an author, you know this, we don’t just write a book and query agents or publishers. We are entrepreneurs, hustling to compete in an oversaturated market. Beyond the ongoing creative process, you devote a lot of time and effort to marketing, interacting with your potential audience, avoiding controversial issues, and essentially walking on eggshells.

It’s hard to fathom how an artist of any kind can be both cautious and authentic and avoid controversial issues. Can you imagine Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain navigating their social media platforms? It would be hilarious.

Doing any of the above, let alone all of it requires an extraordinary amount of motivation. Considering this, I often wonder what others think and dream about while assessing their goals and struggling to achieve them.

I had decided, before second grade, I wanted to help people “escape” if only for a while. I dreamt of making fantasies come to life while delivering messages of love, kindness, and hope. Ten years later, I wanted a mansion, fancy cars, and a full staff. I clipped an article titled “What to Do with Your First Million” and followed its advice to live as if I was already there. I found the celebrity hotspots and frequented them while remaining unfazed. I went for the expensive champagne. My father dared to suggest I become an advertising copywriter. I told him I would not waste my talent to sell bottles of soap and junk like that.

Being twenty-something also presented what seemed like easy opportunities to model or marry up, along with opportunities to break into print on someone else’s terms. In my estimation, these “opportunities” were not easy if I had to invest in something that had nothing to do with my ruling passion or something in conflict with that passion. It seemed a colossal waste of oh so precious time and energy to continually nurture those things.

My opinions, needs, and wants have changed over the years, as I’m sure is true for many. People take different roads, and the one I stumbled onto was the longest route possible. It had to allow for interminable growth and healing.

Some may remember the vision boards of the 90s. What I might have put on those boards at seventeen and twenty-one wouldn’t be on there now. Yeah, a bigger, better place is always great. I like a lot of space. I realized, though, I could be happy anywhere that is reasonably comfortable, and I’m happy with what I have. I don’t need a lot of money to do what I want in life. I’m already doing it. I love what I do and feel privileged to share it with anyone. (I’m talking about writing fiction now, not blogging, which I hate.)

Of course, it’s not a bad thing to want money. We have to want it. It pays the bills, gives you security. You can eat. It puts you in a position of being able to give it to people who need it. It allows you to pursue things you want to pursue. So yes, if anyone wanted to hand me a million dollars, I’d take it.

Being motivated to hustle and sell is another story. Caring about having that bestseller or how many books you’ve sold requires that hunger I had at seventeen and twenty-one. Yes, we all want it, but you may need to move a few mountains to get it and can’t be too lazy about that.

It’s seems easy enough to pretend to be what everyone wants and say all the things people want to hear so that you can sell a gazillion books, right? I know the sort of things I’d need to say and do in that regard and yet still find it impossible. I’m sure I am far from alone in that.

If what I contribute to the world has the best possible impact on someone, it’s well worth it to me. So, yes, every time another person reaches out to express his or her appreciation, it’s hard to want more than that.

The motivation to provide an escape, make fantasies come to life and deliver messages of hope in this bizarre world, remains. Far as that goes, I have come full circle, back to my childhood heart.

Above all, however, writing is the ultimate refuge. In constantly feeling the world’s pain, individually and collectively, that, too, becomes part of the motivation. Writing, for me, is that comforting place. Even those who write dark literature would agree that what horror they write pales in comparison to real world horrors. We want those blessed intervals of complete, total control of what is happening, and what happens next. We can delude ourselves, but more often, we share the suffering, the healing through a process of grief, and sometimes we fix the broken in ways we can’t do in life.

For these reasons, writing consumes me. It leaves me with little time to nurture more than a handful of relationships or to build what others have. At times, I feel a sense of loss, and then I remember that I created all I had ever wanted—a peaceful existence where I could write and share and then spend precious hours with people who mean the most. I’ve come to treasure that, along with life’s simple things.

I may have to kick it into high gear, but it helps to understand what drives you.

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© Copyright June 25, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

FORMATION OF NEW PUBLISHING COMPANY

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I am delighted to announce the formation of my new corporation, Moonlit Dawn Publications.

MDP will have a couple of functions, but I will share what may be of interest to others. Down the road, I would like to publish anthologies to showcase poets and writers of fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and a few other genres. It may one day be possible to take on full-length novels from other authors. That is certainly something that interests me, but for now, Moonlit Dawn Publications, LLC is established and open for business.

Would you like to receive updates about Moonlit Dawn ventures and my other literary pursuits? Use the form on this page to sign up for my newsletter, and I will keep you posted!

As always, I thank you for your interest and support.

© Copyright June 15, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

FIRE IN THE SOUL

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Interesting conversations with readers give me a lot to think about, so I like to provide a platform for those conversations.

Someone recently brought up amateur/aspiring v. professional.

I have known people who create guidelines for when a person can call himself or herself an author (or even a writer). It’s the same with most artists. Are they amateur and aspiring or professional and experienced?

Many of us have had this burning passion or determination to do something since childhood. Ideas and urges came, and we responded. We delivered. I feel we know whether we identify as poets, writers, artists, musicians before we ever have a book published, show our work in a museum or get on stage with a band. We may be aspiring to succeed and to master our crafts, but we are not aspiring to be what we are.

I remember a fifth-grade poetry assignment. The kid behind me copied my poem. When the teacher (nun) caught him, he told her he copied it from a book. I imagine he thought he’d get in less trouble for that, I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted me to go down with him. Nevertheless, she believed him. She asked for the book, and I was so confused that I was trying to find this book that didn’t exist… in my desk. (Nuns raising their voices to me invoked terror.) Then something strange happened. All these kids began calling out that this boy was lying because I was a writer, and I had always been a writer… other ten-year-olds! Amusing as it seems, they touched my heart for a lifetime. She asked me again if I copied the poem from a book, and I finally found the courage to say I didn’t. She gave me a gold star and displayed it on the wall for Parent-Teacher Conference Day. I will never forget this; how the kids knew this thing about me because it was already part of my identity.

As another example, my nephew was drawing since the age of five. I have never seen anything amateur about his approach, his expression, or his final product. (As an aside, he’s amazing.)

People may tell you things like, well you’re not published, you’re not an author, or you’re not a writer, even though you have been doing this thing ever since you can remember.

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If there is anything to separate the amateurs from the pros, for me, it is the desire and willingness to give your best and give your all.

Pros focus on mastering their craft. They set goals. It is a priority in their lives, and they will devote as much time to it as is possible. They can’t “not” do it. They know the passion is the fire in their soul. It’s their heart. They know it’s who they are.

Whether we are good or not, that is another story, but we have control over that, too.

From early on, characterization and dialogue were my strengths. Description was my weakness. I was not observant. I kept my mind clouded with other things, the obsessions of the moment. Eventually, I realized I had to work hard on that area, and I did with much success.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we often feel we don’t measure up, as people, as artists. If we believe that, that’s when we work to get better: identify problems, find solutions, expand our knowledge, and hone our skills. The desire exists for a reason, and learning is perpetual. We can always do better. That is all a part of mastering.

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© Copyright February 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

A RETURN TO MY CHILDHOOD HEART

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A few years ago, when I began my literary fiction series, I chose New York City as the setting for my story. I was born and raised in Woodside, Queens, New York, so it seemed the obvious choice. I soon realized this was not the story I wanted to tell. The determination to write since early childhood had nothing to do with wanting or needing to tell my story. Fantasy drew me in, and I loved a challenge. Somewhere along the line, I became stuck in reality, and this created limits in the limitless realm of fiction.

I decided to find a different setting for my story, a place I’d never visited. I chose Glastonbury, on the banks of the Connecticut River. I would visit there eventually and numerous times but only after I created it first in my mind. Of course, these days, we have the Internet for research—images, maps and that little yellow Google person. One could travel the roads and study the map while sitting in a comfortable office chair drinking coffee, which I did.

This past Sunday was my first “actual” visit. I traveled there with my sister, Denise, my son, Jesse, and my nephew, Christopher. We decided we would go to Hartford first, which is about twenty minutes from Glastonbury.

We set out at 9 a.m. on the most beautiful September day. After an hour of driving, we stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Milford. Christopher tried the apple streusel French toast breakfast. Jesse had a bacon cheeseburger. Denise and I ordered scrambled eggs with biscuits.

Now, Jesse never wants photos of him on the Internet, which I thoroughly respect. He took these photos at Cracker Barrel, except for the goofy one where I tried on the cowboy hat. Denise took that one while Jesse watched Christopher take videos of a toy pig singing ‘Wild Thing’ and a toy dog singing ‘Dance to the Music’.

Our arrival in Hartford was at least an hour later.

Hartford Welcome

We bought tickets for a tour of Mark Twain’s house and poked around the museum until it was time for the tour.

 

I was thrilled at the first glimpse of Mark Twain’s Victorian Gothic revival home. I could see why this place was so special to him. (As an aside, the guide usually referred to Mark Twain as Samuel Clemens, Mr. Clemens or Sam. As I am sure most people are aware, it was his real name.)

When we went inside the house, the guide asked that we refrain from taking photographs or touching anything except the banister while walking up and down the stairs. I must say, the décor is impressive. I loved the ambiance, particularly in the cozy library, which faced a conservatory that had a fountain and lush plants. The interior of the house remains dark for the tours because the Clemens family had gas lighting when they occupied the home. I love dim lighting, but I imagine this much darkness can become dreary, not to mention a little spooky at night, going up and down those stairs, probably with a candle. It prompted me to ask about ghost stories. The guide informed us that people claimed to have seen the ghost of Susy Clemens, the oldest daughter. She died alone in the house, from spinal meningitis, at the age of 24. Employees also made claims that the butler’s ghost continues to work there. We learned that the show ‘Ghost Hunters’ featured the house. Apparently, there are ‘Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours’ that sell out quickly, so tickets must be bought in advance.

Some people in attendance were not thrilled to hear about the ghosts. I hadn’t thought about that since I don’t seriously believe in ghosts. Denise reminded us of the time we all walked through the haunted maze at Bayville Scream Park. While searching frantically for the exit, I said (loudly) there was no way out, then suddenly all these kids were crying hysterically. Their parents had to assure them there was an exit somewhere. It’s a good thing I believed in ghosts when my own son was a child. I was less oblivious to people’s fears and concerns about ghosts and other creatures that likely don’t exist.

The tour, while quite interesting, took much longer than they said it would. Through most of it, I didn’t focus on our confinement to a relatively small space where only three people weren’t strangers. Toward the end, this reality became painfully obvious. I wanted to ball gag anyone who asked another question.

Outside on the grounds, we took more photos. I came up with the unoriginal idea to pose with a book, since I like those seemingly candid shots of authors reading books. I am still laughing about this. Denise (and even Jesse) took a dozen photos like that—me reading on the grass, on the steps of the museum, on a bench, etc. Everyone made me laugh with funny comments about these “photo-ops” especially since I hate photos of me, let alone sharing them on social networking sites. During the last attempt, Jesse thought he had the perfect shot when Denise came over and said, “Still with the book?” I lost it and laughed hysterically in the only picture you will see of me with the book. It was the way she said it. She is funny. They are all so funny. Christopher later decided he, too, wanted a picture while reading a book. It became a thing…a silly thing. Silly is good.

Here are a few of the photos, which include some other houses on the property, like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house. The Twain and Stowe houses are captioned at least one time.


I am including the link for anyone who would like to see the interior we could not photograph and some other interesting links.

Mark Twain House

Nook Farm: Mark Twain’s Neighborhood

Where Mr. Twain and Mrs. Stowe Built Their Dream Houses

Funny Mark Twain Quotes

By the time we arrived in Glastonbury, it was late afternoon. It was not easy to find certain places, and we often found ourselves on private property during the search. One or two of us got out of the car anyway, camera in hand. Jesse said we should have brought bail money. He wouldn’t budge from the car.

We drove around in circles trying to find the entrance to Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow’s pristine woodlands. That didn’t happen. The one person we asked sent us to the wrong place, though we thoroughly enjoyed the scenic drive through the woods of Kongscut Mountain Open Space and Mountain View Estates. It was gorgeous, but we didn’t take any photos. We were too busy looking for Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow.

Glastonbury is a pretty place. I wish we had more time to capture this in photos; however, it was great to be there. We did more laughing than anything, but that’s the best part of any trip. We had fun.

These are photos of my main character’s neighborhood (which is a bit too close to the cemetery). She attended Smith Middle School. Addison Park was part of her childhood.


Here is a link to the preserve we were looking for (Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow).

The Cotton Hollow Preserve We Didn’t Find

On the way back to New York, we saw the most incredible sunset. Denise loves to photograph sunrises and sunsets, but she was driving. I took a picture for her with her phone, except I never heard the click. I thought it didn’t work the first time, and somehow she ended up with I don’t know how many pictures of that sunset.

She was busy deleting sunsets at Red Lobster while we ordered our food, scolding me. We all joked. We were home in New York by then and starving. We savored every bite of our meals. Eating is part of the fun, too, isn’t it? Besides, we ran out of Twizzlers in Hartford.

Here is what I learned. Your heart, as a child, knows. Through life’s encounters and experiences, you can pile shovel after shovel of dirt upon it—bury it so deep that it is lost to you. It’s important to dig through all the dirt and find it, then embrace it, and never lose it again.

© Copyright September 20, 2014 kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR MICHAEL JOHN SULLIVAN

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The above podcast is from ‘Heart-to-Heart with Kyrian’ on Blog Talk Radio.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/kyrianlyndon

Michael John Sullivan is the author of Necessary Heartbreak, a novel published by Simon & Schuster, the sequel to Necessary Heartbreak, Everybody’s Daughter, published by The Story Plant, and the final book of this trilogy, The Greatest Gift published by The Story Plant. The Greatest Gift will be available in October of 2014. Michael is currently working on his next novel, The Second World. He is the creator of The Sockkids children’s series. Michael is also a former board member for the Long Island Coalition of the Homeless and has written several articles about the plight of homelessness for CNN, The Washington Post, Beliefnet, the Huffington Post, and America Online’s Patch service.

Learn more about Michael John Sullivan and his work:

Michael John Sullivan Website
The Sockkids Website
Michael John Sullivan on Facebook
The Sockkids on Facebook
Michael John Sullivan on Twitter
The Sockkids on Twitter

 



Thank you, Michael, for being a guest on our show, for your friendship and for being a light in this world. It is always a pleasure chatting with you.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/kyrianlyndon

If you would like to be a guest on Heart-to-heart with Kyrian, please send your request with a short bio and photo to hearttoheartguests@kyrianlyndon.com.  Thank you!

TREASURES

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As I read Peter Cottontail to my son for the third or fourth time, feeling a bit tired, I bungled a line.

He said, “No, mommy, he lost one shoe amongst the cabbages and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.”

Yes, that is important! I hugged him dearly for that.

It was quite an improvement from six months earlier when he ripped Alice in Wonderland to shreds.

I wanted to be a relaxed, nurturing parent. I did not want to raise my son in a palace of dangers. I childproofed. I permitted him to take books from the bookshelves, sit in a pile of them and explore. When he tore up the book, that party was over. I had to tell him only once, because he knew already, I was reasonable and always for him, on his side. I taught him, we love books. We respect books. We read them. We enjoy them. We never destroy them, and we never crush the spirit of their creators.

The love affair with books began in my own childhood. I fell in love, first, with writing and reading. Writing is still the love of my life.

The fantasy genre inspired me – Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, fairy tales. It provided me with a much-needed escape from reality.

As I grew, the books I cherished most fit into the category of literary fiction, which is reality-based and generally more profound and philosophical. However, I never heard the term ‘literary fiction’ or all this talk about genres. Many people are still confused about it and have no idea what literary fiction is. I was confused myself.

I struggled to categorize my work. Yes, there is a love story. There are quite a few. There is a psychologically thrilling mystery. There are many of those. Yes, it is dark and intense with elements of gothic fiction and quite a bit of horror, but the ongoing saga does not revolve around any particular theme. Do you know why? It is literary fiction.

Literary fiction is pretentiously termed ‘serious’ fiction, though that could be misleading. It indicates a profound work with literary merit, a celebration of language, a critically acclaimed classic. However, genre fiction can also be poetry in motion and a work of art worthy of acclaim.

If I have to answer as to whether I am working on ‘serious’ fiction, well if it means painstaking torture, yes, I am quite serious, and this is as serious as it gets.

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The well-constructed plot in literary fiction should be riveting, but it is not the focus. Literary fiction has a slower pace with many rewards for your patience along the way.

It is character driven with well-developed, introspective characters. The story is about the character’s journey. We become emotionally involved in his or her reality, the struggle, the challenges, the losses and triumphs. We glimpse into the character’s psyche, experiencing the love, the hate, the joy, and the pain. Works of literary fiction are good human-interest stories that move and inspire those of us fascinated by the human condition. Genre novelists can create deep characterization, but this is the hallmark of literary fiction.

Literary fiction defines some of the best books ever written: Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Rebecca, Little Women, 1984, Brave New World, Anna Karenina and many Shakespeare tales. The list goes on. My favorite authors, including Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters, wrote literary fiction in classic Victorian-style, which I love with all my heart.

I believe creative work in every category has potential for greatness. I have yet to find a genre unworthy of respect. I don’t think we should make fun of people for enjoying some nonsense book or series where the writing isn’t up to par. As professionals and critics, we may seek a certain quality, but I am of the opinion, if there is a mass audience for a book or series, and it made scores of people happy, it has earned its place in the world of literature. I am simply another writer in an endless sea of writers and one of billions of readers. It doesn’t matter whether I like it. Readers, by consensus, have the final word.

Here is the bottom line for those of us who share this passion: books are a treasure. I feel fortunate in a world of books. I am infinitely grateful. I am giddy with delight. This is our inspiration, our high, our bond. There is plenty of room for everyone, and I am beyond thrilled to be on this journey.

I would love to hear from you about what you love to read or write. In the meantime, enjoy these videos as part of my celebration of literary fiction with an appreciative nod to all genres.

 

© Copyright August 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction of text permitted without permission.

IN THE DIMMEST LIGHT


I wake up at 4 a.m. every day, including weekends and holidays, and write for hours. It starts with nothing more than a 40-watt amber-shade lamp lit in the darkest hours, where I can see the moon outside my window. The focus is so intense, it is light before long.

Creating characters and the worlds they live in began as a childhood obsession. I wrote down names then added descriptions, developing their stories by continuing to add details. I had no idea why I did this at the time. My parents worried for a while. They relaxed a bit as I went on to write fairy tales and poems. When I wrote my first novel at 16, I used parts of those descriptions.

I held many jobs since then – secretary, assistant book manufacturing representative, assistant to casting director, computer system administrator, and paralegal/legal assistant. One summer, I was shooting photos for a model’s portfolio. Another day I’d be chatting with musicians about putting a band together. My ego was insatiable, so I was all over the place, wanting to do everything. I told myself, all I want to do is write while getting sidetracked at every turn.

Life went on, rife with challenges, full of adventures. I roamed the darkest corners to learn about the world and about myself. Setbacks knocked me down. I would get up eventually and find my way again.

More and more so, I began telling my story in the novels I wrote. I became so immersed in the reality of it, I would not steer off its course long enough to let my imagination truly come alive. I started over several times until I realized I didn’t sign on for this to tell my story. A storyteller can tell any story she wants, and so I was back on track.

To be fair, I learned about the book publishing process working in publishing. I chased down literary agents, got a press kit, and formed a writer’s club. I continued to educate myself about writing. I subscribed to the relevant publications. I contributed to an anthology, had letters published. There were assignments and proposals I turned down wanting to be true to myself and to the integrity of my work. I was devoted to mastering my craft.

I realize, too, I’d been busy healing. It was necessary for me to find the courage to free myself of belief systems that kept me in bondage. Until we fully heal, we remain in bondage to something or another and prone to all kinds of obsession. Disentangling from all that is a painful process and a lot of work but well worth it. Past turmoil is the baggage we can carry forever or make lighter and less cumbersome by checking it.

Perhaps it’s different for everyone, but the process is the same. It is discovering what you do not want nor want to be; who or what impedes you; who and what strengthens you. Learning to trust your instincts is essential. If I couldn’t do that as a human being, I surely could not do it as a writer.

In the healing process, I got a much-needed downsizing of ego. I went from “needing” attention to shying away from it with a reluctance to put myself out there. I am a firm believer that when it comes to extremes, neither extreme is right. It had to be somewhere in the middle. It’s been all about balance for me.

Becoming a parent along the way helped. It is a rare and unconditional love, and love of that magnitude motivates you to be the best person you can ever hope to be. It lifts you out of victimhood and allows you to live as the empowered hero in your own heart and to set the example.

Today I feel the greatest gift I have to give anyone is a true and genuine heart. That means questioning my intentions and, if necessary, correcting my steps.

Now, with a clear view of the story I want to tell, I’ve been busy incorporating my past novels into a series that could be six to eight books and possibly more. I have outlined and drafted the series and am in the process of finalizing.

I’m grateful to have a passion, something I love to do, and get to spend time doing every day – a joy that saves me, always.

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The author as a young ego-driven New Yorker in Central Park. 🙂

© Copyright July 14, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.