Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Celebrating One Year & the Blogging From the Heart Tour

Last week, I was nominated by Paul over at his blog, Message in a Bottle, for the "Blogging From the Heart Blog Tour."  If you haven’t had a chance to visit his blog, please be sure to check it out.  He writes on sobriety and his musings are stunning.  His writing will leave you inspired.

Since I am celebrating the anniversary of my first whole year in blogging, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to conjure up a celebratory post.

Before I answer the four questions each one of the nominees are asked, I want to take a few moments to express my gratitude to all of my readers.  I have been blessed to have made some AMAZING new friends and connections throughout this journey.  I know how busy all of you are so I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you stopping Dawning On a New Day.    

I took this shot outside of my window in the early hours of a winter's morning which is my favorite time to write.
When I first began blogging last July, I honestly had no idea where to begin.  I already had a successful children’s book business and brand to keep me busy but I needed another outlet for a different audience.  Writing for adults is quite different than coming up with stories for our youth.  Both of these brands are equally fulfilling but they are defined by their transformations and means of self-growth.  I love sharing experiences and networking with adult authors and writers just as much as I love being in a classroom or assembly giving author presentations to children. 

Last July, however, my expedition began as I slowly learned to digress from the coattails of a darkness which both my mother and I had battled for years.  Unfortunately, my mother’s war was lost when she almost drank her life away.  Alcoholism had defeated her tired and battered body where it was almost laid to rest six feet under the ground.
However, God had different plans for us.  On December 26th, 2012, my mother received a phone call which would change her life forever.  We knew she was going to die come January if she didn’t undergo liver transplant surgery.  Her liver failed exactly one year prior to that desperate December day and the doctors said she should have been dead already.   So on the day after Christmas, she was given a new liver and a chance to save the lives of others by sharing her story.

It was a long recovery.  I mean, I can’t stress how LONG her recovery was.  There were times when she was hospitalized and told she would have to have another liver transplant because the one she received was rejecting her body.  So when I began blogging in July of 2013, I was suffering through an impeccable amount of emotions.  I’m talking like all colors of the rainbow here… rage, self-loathing, anger, sadness, gratitude, hope, and at times, I would see tendrils of light reaching through the darker days.  The more I blogged, the better I felt.  And the more I shared our meanderings, the more people I helped. 

When readers ask me if I am ever embarrassed about my past, I simply tell them that is not who I am anymore.  Our past doesn’t have to define who we are and who we are capable of becoming.  It will always be a part of me but through blogging, writing, and my children’s work, my past becomes scattered like tiny pebbles along a cold, damp Maine shore.  Where they once crippled my toes and brought great pain to my heart, now, I look back and see a more pristine picture.  Because hovering above those pebbles is a warm, caring sun.  He was always there but I was too blinded by the charades and numbness alcohol once provided for me.

The epic shoreline in Camden, Maine.
So cheers to a year in blogging!  And to the woman I am finally comfortable with and glad to discover more about as I continue trotting down the path of a writer’s journey. 

Now for the questions on “Blogging From the Heart.”

What am I working on?

Currently, I am working on my 2nd children’s picture book and crime fiction novel. 

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

When I first tapped into the adult blogosphere, I had a mission in my mind; to help others struggling with drugs and alcohol discover their potential and leave those demons behind.  I’m still open to discussing this disease because I suffered like many addicts still do today.  And sadly, I know more people than I would like to who are currently throwing their life away by drinking every day or almost every day.

But as I mentioned before, this disease does not define who I am and it will never jeopardize my future again. 

Presently, most of my work focuses on celebrating life and storytelling.  I use my experiences and struggles within the depths of my heart and soul to create beautiful stories.  I have been using my children’s picture book as a means of establishment within various school districts throughout New Jersey. 

I guess I don’t simply write to create novels and picture books.  I write so I can help others reach their potential by discovering and utilizing their talents to the best of their abilities.  Whether it’s engaging in workshops, author assemblies, or trying to lend my heart out to those who need courage and advice, I am constantly trying to better this world and put an end to self-pity and destruction.

Why do I write/create what I do?

Ahh… this is simple.  I write because I love to move people.  I create worlds where kids and adults can disappear into because when I was a child, I adored both reading and hearing stories from my mom or Levar Burton from Reading Rainbow.  Whenever I see the kids’ eyes light up with excitement and enthusiasm, my heart flutters.  And the best are the “Thank You” letters and cards I receive in the mail after my author visits.  There are times when I tear up because I still can’t believe how far I have come. 

How does my writing/creating process work?

As far as my children’s books go, I always write them out in journals before I put them on the computer.  I’ve been writing in journals since I was eight years old and this is a part of me that will never change.  Whenever I am in a bookstore, I am always tempted to purchase new journals even though I have tons lying around. 

Ideas come to me all of the time.  My boyfriend is constantly reminding me about how I have to actually say “Yes, I heard you,” because most of the time, I nod my head but I’m not listening.  It’s not because I don’t want to hear what he  has to say but my mind is constantly on the go and ideas are always brewing.  For this, I usually have my journals handy so I can write down whatever is being conjured up. 

As far as blogging goes, I usually type all of my posts in Word and then edit and paste them onto my blog.  I’m always pondering about life so whenever I think of something that I can connect to writing, I will blog about it.  I’ve often thought about remodeling my blog so it’s more equipped for reviews and what not.  I have several upcoming blog tours for books I am excited about and have signed up for in the Fall.  I will have to wait and see where this takes Dawning on a New Day.

The novel I wrote over the winter was one of the greatest experiences to date.  I never thought I would be able to accomplish such an intense project but I did.  It is still a long way away from being refined enough to query agents but I will get there… one brand at a time!  I’m anticipating a busy school year for my children’s book author work and this blog keeps me very busy. 

But for all of my readers who are authors, you already know how hectic the life of a writer can be.  But we can all agree that we wouldn’t trade this gift, nor our endless imagination, for anything else in the world!


Now for my three nominees:

Sandra from Sandra's Blog is quite the busy author, day job dweller, grandmother and wife but still manages to keep her readers occupied and laughing over at her blog.  I can always look forward to a nice smile on my face as she usually posts something amusing or inspiring for authors five days a week.  I am looking forward to reading her books and I am taking her novel, “Silverhills,” with me to Cozumel next week!

I’ve known Kimberly for quite some time now.  We actually met at a fair last year where we shared a table for our children’s books.  As soon as I saw how she was with her aunt and dad, I knew she would be a special friend.  Whenever I need advice about ANYTHING, I can always count on Kim.  She has one picture book published and another one coming out soon.  Her blog is always filled with book reviews and author advice.  She also writes from the heart and readers are sure to enjoy her blog and books!  You can find her blog at her website for Kimberly Sentek.

Recently, I stumbled across Carol and her blog, Carol's Notes.  Boy, can she write!  I’m blown away by her intelligence in the genres she reads and posts about.  Reading her blog reminds me about how I need to really add more books to my list of TBR.  Carol is kind, intelligent and her writing is beautiful.  Check out her blog and an array of recommendations.  You will be happy you did!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Carry Me Away With the Wind

Over the weekend, I thought a lot about the awful atrocities associated with bullying.  This is a subject which always leaves me with a broken heart.  Some of you may already know from reading previous blog posts that I was severely bullied in junior and upper high school.  It lasted until the middle of my freshman year after I was befriended by someone who changed my high school experience around for the better.

Although my situation turned around, there are still so many children out there who are beaten mentally and physically by bullies.  I decided to write a poem in dedication to those kids who are struggling to find their light and keep it shining from within forever. 


So without further adieu, here is my poem.  Mind you; this is far from its final version and probably needs a ton of edits. 

Carry Me Away With the Wind

It is mid-morning and I am still dreaming

Of a prairie; grass tickling my face.

The sun is beaming down on my dog and me

And I fear I will soon leave this warm place.


The wind whispers calm, light words

Providing peaceful solace to hopeful ears.

They yearn for the expressions in my own world

To stop agonizing me with hatred and tears.


The sun’s decadence descends upon us now,

And soon, this bliss will end.

I crave to always hear soft whispers from the wind

After I make my one and final ascend.


They make fun of the clothes and sneakers

My mother works three jobs for.

They say I am a poor and ugly loser…

Their words drag my heart straight to the floor.


No one really talks to me in school,

Making me feel shunned and utterly alone.

And when people do have something to say,

I'm forced against walls battling their stones.


Facebook makes everything worse

While bullies post my heartache on their pages.

No matter where I go, I can’t escape these atrocities…

Becoming less of a person; no longer courageous.


I strive to be the best I can;

Achieving A’s and B’s in all of my classes.

I want to be a renowned doctor when I grow up

And travel the world to help the masses.


But the comfort I seek

Is found here, lost and laying in dreams.

They can’t hurt me until I awake…

I wish to linger longer in the sun’s brilliant beams.


Rays of light burst out

And reflect off of my tired soul.

They create such a colorful masterpiece;

Forming acceptance and admiration I long to hold.
I walk down towards a shimmering lake;
Ripples with crystals and reflections of blue skies.
I kneel down and take a look at my manifestation;
Only to reveal my mother's gentle eyes.
I fear what this loss will do to her,
But the pain I endure is far too deep.
I hope she will be able to move on
Because my body craves for an eternity of sleep.


Lord, will You accept me into Heaven,

Even after I have forsaken the life You gave to me?

My existence here on Earth is too unbearable,

And You are the only One Who will see…


See me and love me for all that I am

Because when I wake up, I am nothing.

Tomorrow, I will climb up that bridge and jump…

Finding myself in Heaven; becoming something.


The wind carries me back to my bed;

Gentle and slow as I wake from this peace.

I will hug my mother and kiss her goodbye today,

Only to let her go; my one and final release.


After dinner, I walk towards the bridge.

Butterflies filled with fear form in my stomach.

Then I close my eyes and dream of tranquility

Before I look up and make one final plummet.


The wind begins to pick up,

And soft words are carried from afar.

For a moment, I think I am dreaming.

I open my eyes and notice an iridescent star.


 It stands out among the rest

In the vastly painted, black sky.

Then a voice in the breeze calms my soul,

And I slowly begin to cry.


“You are uniquely crafted,” the voice says.

“Like that one star in the sky.

Please step back from the ledge,

And do not give the world your last goodbye.”


I suddenly step back

And glance over towards the wind.

Could this be an angel

Or perhaps someone buried deep within?


“You are destined to be great,” the voice continues,

“And each and every human plays a part.

Life is too precious of a gift from God

To have others make you think you are not smart.”


“Bullies may bring you down

And steer you away from your dreams.

But you are stronger than they are

And more incandescent than any sun’s beams.”


“When they make fun of you,

Simply think to yourself and walk away.

Imagine the doctor and father

You are destined to be someday.”


“You will always make friends

No matter where you go in time.

This is just the beginning

So don’t give up on the climb.”


The voice slowly disintegrated

As I gazed up at the same radiant star.

It was still shining impeccably;

I knew it would always guide me from afar.


I took the long way home

And gathered up all of my thoughts.

When I arrived, I ran toward my mother

And hugged her with all of my heart.


She asked me where I had been that evening,

And why I was holding her so tight.

I whispered in her ear, “I love you, Mom…

Thank you for giving me such a luminous life.”
Do you like to read or write poetry?  How do you feel about bullying?  Have you or anyone you know ever been bullied?

Monday, July 14, 2014

For the Love of the Publishing Game

Today, I taught several writing classes for children between the ages of 6 and 14.  I am used to discussing my author work with the little ones since I have a children’s picture book published under a pen name.  But speaking to the older kids was much different because there is a lot more concentration and depth given to all of the details and aspects of the writing and publishing process.

Throughout all of my classes, though, I used my picture book as a gateway to get their ideas flowing.  And then it got me thinking about the whole publishing industry and all of the research I had done before I decided to publish my children’s book.  The older kids were very interested in the publishing process as their eyes lit up with enthusiasm and excitement after I told them the rules have changed.  The industry itself has changed; therefore, anyone can publish a book without the hassle of dealing with rejection after rejection after rejection.
Before I even decided to publish, I knew I had my research cut out for me.  I took publishing seminars alongside various writing classes to perfect and craft my art.  I always knew I had a gift and couldn’t wait to share it with the world.  Don’t get me wrong; there had been times when I doubted myself as well as my gift, but deep down, I knew how writing affected my soul.  It was, and has always been, the driving force in my passions, motivation, and continuous quest for constant creativity. 
When I wake up, I think about writing and before I fall asleep, I meditate on it.  Even when I am dreaming, I am coming up with stories as the worlds that exist within my head taunt and poke at my dreams.  My writing moves me and at the same time, haunts the hell out of me. 
This is one of the main reasons I decided to self-publish my children’s book.  Levar Burton and Reading Rainbow flooded my thoughts with memories and musings I had as a child.  I remember how important it was for me to sit down in front of the television with my sister and watch Burton narrate stories so beautifully that we had no other choice but to literally “Take a look, it’s in a book.”


So when the kids asked me what inspired me to become an author, I told them this, “Writing lives inside of me and dwells at the canyons of my soul.”  Well, I didn’t quite word it that way.  I did, however, tell them that Reading Rainbow, playing endlessly outside with my sisters and friends, and the fact that I couldn’t breathe without it… well, these are all splendid reasons for anyone to want to inspire, move and motivate other people.
This is what outside used to look like when we were little.  Coincidentally, this is also what my children's book is about.

This is what outside looks more like today. 
So yes, I want to motivate others through my writing.  I want to write books so powerful that others will have no other choice but to fall at the depths of the feelings protruding from my written words.  And when I teach and present my writing and children’s book to our youth, I am constantly reminding and encouraging them to find their voice.   I want them to use their talent and unique styles to not only become success stories, but to have others gravitate toward their work.  Whether it’s music, acting, writing, illustrating, playing a sport… anything.  I stress to our kids to find something they are passionate about and craft that passion so well, others will bask and share the light that resonates from within them.  And of course, to not allow violent video games and the internet rot their brains.

You should have seen their faces when I told them the author of Eragon (Christopher Paolini) had his parents self-publish his final manuscript.  He also wrote this story at 15 years old; incredible!  It was later picked up by a bigger house but both Paolini and his parents believed in Eragon and they didn’t want anyone telling them differently.

I also told them that success stories like this don’t happen often but if they have a dream of becoming an author, they can make their dreams come true.  Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be an author.  And I’m lucky enough that I am able to do something I love.  I still have a day job because I can’t live off of my writing yet.  But until then, I will never stop writing nor will I ever stop visiting schools, libraries and bookstores to help spread word about my name as well as inspire our children.

Because I researched and began building a platform before my children’s book was released, I had landed myself in a pool of opportunities.  I visit schools all over New Jersey and it turns out I am actually GOOD at what I do.  Principals and teachers are constantly complementing me and passing my name around.  They love my children’s book, author presentations, and now, writing classes. 

I am not famous and by no means can I support myself from simply doing what I love to do.  But I’m working hard at it and slowly, more doors are opening.   And everything happened because I took a chance and chased after a dream; my way.  My pen name is my business now and I will do whatever it takes to plant seeds around all of the grounds I come across. 
I was nervous today.  I honestly couldn’t tell you why.  I guess, deep down, I am still a bit self-conscious and critical about my work.  But when you find something you are good at and there are people around you telling you how grateful they are and how much you made their day, then you are definitely doing something more compelling than what most people can only dream about.  Try not to be too hard on yourself and keep doing what you do best… which is simply being the one and only, magnificent you, my fellow friends and authors!

Have you ever self-published a book?  If so, how has your experience been?  Would you ever self-publish a book if you haven’t already?  Do you get nervous speaking in front big audiences?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Getting Back on the Bike

A while back, I started writing a novel which I planned on having pricked, primed and probed by now; a shining star to be wrapped, gifted and ready to send off to agents when I queried them this summer.  And by the way, where has the summer gone?  I mean, July 6th?  Really?  Come on Father Time.  I honestly feel like June was a mere moment or even a mistake; a colossal lapse in the year.  “Gosh, darn it, we have forgotten about June-Bug!   Slow down, please!” cries the flowers, butterflies, and unicorns in side of my head.

No matter how hard we try to plan out our projects, life always seems to get in the way.  The day job can do quite a number on one’s creative mind; nearly sucks the artistic drive and momentum out of me by the time I get home in the evening.  But I’ve learned to wake up early enough to beat the droning affects of a long day’s work.  Rather, I like to leave the droning for the day job and keep my creativity and monumental reasoning on my own clock. 

This year has brought a lot of milestones due to the work within my children’s book business.  I’ve made a lot of new connections; therefore, placing me in situations where my future author visits and books can only flourish from.  I’m even teaching a creative writing course for middle graders at a summer enrichment program next week.  As excited as I am for such a wonderful opportunity, I just wish the summer would slow down so I can actually conquer my WIP; a quest both my mind and heart are yearning to defeat.

As I throw my imagination back into my WIP, I’m finding myself to be climbing back on the bike; steadily easing myself back into the mind who effortlessly wrote this story a few months ago.

Coincidentally, the other day, I mounted myself up on a bike and to be honest, I haven’t ridden one since two summers ago while vacationing down the shore.  It felt a bit wobbly at first and took a few graceful strides to get the pedals going.  Imagine legs forming an outward triangle toward the sky before hearing the words, “Straight, woman!” as they stammered candidly throughout my head.

Before I knew it, it was smooth canoodling down the road.  I was one with the path ahead of me; taking in all of the fragrances and beauty surrounding as the wind flapped against my face.  I breathed in all of the warm embraces of an angelic, summer sun and even allowed my legs to stretch out as I glided down the hills.  I was in love with a mere impromptu of buying a new bike on the melancholy of a whim.

As far as my WIP goes, the first few pages were a bit shaky once I dived into an abyss of, “This just isn’t rights.”  I honestly found myself re-reading them over and over again until I eventually got the beginning right.  However, just like getting back that bike, I have come to realize when we walk away from projects, it takes a few baby steps to get the pedals (or the computer keys) going again.

Our WIPs continuously cling to our hearts no matter how far the end might seem.  And when we walk away from them, they somehow manage to reach out toward us only to drag us right back into their worlds.  The meeting of the mind and story will clash at times; causing us to scream, yell, cry and pull our hair out when a scene or idea doesn’t fall together the way it should.  We will do all of those things until we get it right.

When I was a child, it was a bit frustrating learning how to ride a bike.  I fell many times, scraping knees, but always managed to pick myself back up again and keep at it until I mastered it.   Like many, I managed to become so graceful that riding the bike was like an art.  It painted a picture for me as I took in every single piece of nature around me. 

Conquering that beast of an obstacle gave my hungry brain the memories and potential it needed to learn how to love and try new things while perusing around my imagination, desire and pursuit for just about everything.

I’m back on the bike.  I’m focused and pedaling… like a crazy lunatic; sometimes at vigorous speeds while at others, sluggishly slow and swallowing big air gulps over speed bumps as my WIP tells me to slow down.  “Focus, woman, focus!”

Whether we are riding our bikes again or picking up off from where we left our WIPs, it’s all a matter of progress.  One thing is for sure; time may not always be on our side.  It sneaks up on you and passes along the days when you least expect it.  You wake up one morning and it is May 1st and then before you know it, the 4th of July is staring you in the face asking, “So what are we doing for the fireworks?”
BUT, with that being said, we will always have our passion; our creative minds and endless yearnings to put the pedal to the medal… to bike down the road so gracefully that the right side of our brains melt within the music the wind provides for our souls.  At times, we will be going uphill, fighting the hands of time as it drags us through the heap and grim notions of how precious it really is.  As long as we are pedaling, we are making progress… back up on the bike again.


Do you find it easy or difficult to thrust yourself back into your WIP after leaving it for so long?  Once you've finished writing a manuscript, do you start the editing process right away or do you ever take breaks?