The Magic Within and The Little Book That Could

The Indie Chicks is a fantastic group of women writers that established itself late fall of 2011. Every week, one of our own is featured in order to share one of the inspirational stories from the anthology, Indie Chicks 25 Women, 25 Personal Stories. Pick up your copy at Amazon and please help me welcome the lovely writer, Michelle Muto, to the blog for this week.

THE MAGIC WITHIN AND THE LITTLE BOOK THAT COULD

by Michelle Muto

That’s what I’ve been calling The Book of Lost Souls, the book that started my path to publication. I’ve always loved to write. I’ve always loved the way imagination and words blend on a page, the way they transport a reader to faraway worlds, or right next door, where witches live. From the time I was very young, books were an amazing world to me. There was no greater joy than going to the library with my mother whose love of books knew no measure. When I was very young, my mother read to me every night. As I grew older, we’d talk about the books we were reading.

Even as a young child, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. But, writing wasn’t what paid the bills. I got a regular job and life went on, although I still dreamed of writing. My father always told me to believe in myself and to never give up on what I firmly believed in. A few years after his death, I took up writing again. My mother, who was now ill and who had moved in with my husband and me, was happy to read what I wrote, or to set the table in order to give me a few more minutes of writing time.

And so I wrote and edited and revised. Just before the book was ready to send to agents, my mother died. I set the book aside. Writing was too painful, too full of memories.

But, the stories in my head wouldn’t let up, and so after a few years I started writing again. This time, I wrote about a teen witch named Ivy and her life in a small town, and I quickly fell in love with the story and the eclectic group of characters. I think of it as Buffy meets Harry Potter. When I typed the last line, I actually felt a pang of sorrow—I didn’t want to say goodbye. Ivy and her story became The Book of Lost Souls, and after polishing it up, I sent it off to agents. Plenty were interested and requested the full manuscript. Unfortunately, most of them thought the book was too light. Too cute. Too Disney. They offered to read whatever else I had, as long as it was darker. Darker sells! Or so they said.

So, after two revisions for two separate agents that eventually didn’t pan out (they said the book still had a lighthearted feel to it that wouldn’t appeal to publishing houses), I set The Book of Lost Souls aside and started working on an outline for a much darker book.

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Paper, Pen, and Chocolate

The Indie Chicks is a fantastic group of women writers that established itself late fall of 2011. Every week, one of our own is featured in order to share one of the inspirational stories from the anthology, Indie Chicks 25 Women, 25 Personal Stories. Pick up your copy at Amazon and please help me welcome, Talia Jager, to the blog for this week.

Paper, Pen, and Chocolate

by Talia Jager

“Mom!” a voice yelled from the other room. “Make her stop!”

“I didn’t do anything!” another voice yelled before I could even get up to see what was going on.

I sighed and struggled to get off the couch where I had just started writing a scene. Four months pregnant with our sixth child and the varicose veins were already causing problems for me. I wondered where my husband was hiding that he couldn’t handle this.

Fortunately, the yelling quieted down. Instead of checking on them, I made an Executive Decision. I snuck into my closet, grabbed some Hershey’s chocolate from my stash, and slipped into the bathroom where I ate it with the lights turned off. Nobody would find me there.

Flicking on my flashlight, I took out the notepad and pen I had stashed in the magazine rack and wrote down some thoughts on the scene I had been writing.

The quiet lasted 3.5 minutes. Then my time in the bathroom was up. I crept back out to the living room where I settled a new argument, secretly wishing I could go back to the bathroom.

Now, you may ask…Married with how many kids? And you write books? WHY? HOW? Let me tell you.

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The pursuit of a lifelong dream

This week’s inspirational story comes from the talented Indie Chick Julia Crane. Please welcome her to my blog. Take it away, Julia!

Julia Crane

Moving to the Middle East

Separation was normal in my marriage. My husband was in the military, and usually gone six months a year. We had adapted quite well to the schedule. Of course, we had the normal period of adjustment when he would return, but that was part of the lifestyle. We were looking forward to his retirement, and being able to spend more time together as a family. That didn’t work out quite as we expected. My husband was offered a job in Afghanistanthat would set us up to really retire. The kicker? It would last a year. We thought the sacrifice would be worth it, so off he went. One year became a year and a half.

While he was gone I took care of our small business, running a gym. I loved it. It was very time-consuming, but it was also very rewarding. It started to wear on me only when my pre-teen children complained that I was always at the gym, and never had time for them. Finally, I told my husband that it was time for him to come home.

He put in his notice and started a stateside job. Though the new job still required him to be gone for six months of the year, the absences were in manageable blocks of two weeks. When he was home, he would take care of the gym and I would have time off. It was perfect.

Then he got a call from a friend, with a job offer that was just too good to turn down…in Dubai. We discussed it, and decided he should take the job, even though we had a new one-year-old.

Not long after my husband left for Dubai, I was at the breaking point. I felt trapped with the business, our teens, and a one-year-old always needing my attention. I had no personal space, and I’m a person that requires time alone, or else I get cranky.

As luck would have it, the new job offered to bring family members over to live in Dubai. My first thought about moving to the Middle East? “Yeah, right.” However, I researched Dubai and was surprised at what I found. The country seemed very modern, and the schools sounded good.

So I told my husband, “Ok, we’re coming.” While I was both nervous and excited, I was ready for a change, and moving to the Middle East sounded like just the adventure I needed.

When we got off the plane in October, the hot air hit my face and it felt like I had walked into a sauna. I thought, “Uh oh, what have I agreed to?” Yes, the heat is hard to handle, but you learn to live your life around it. We do most things early in the morning or after the sun sets. It is very much a nighttime culture. The city is beautiful and the Arabian Sea is breathtaking. I have grown comfortable living here, and easily call it my home. Though I can now see myself here for a few years, there are of course many things that I miss about America, and most of them involve food. Some things are just impossible to find: I’ve searched high and low for a Butterfinger, with no luck.

After a couple of months of enjoying my newfound free time, I eventually started to twiddle my thumbs. I was used to being busy, and with all the free time I needed to find something to fill the void. I saw an article that went into detail about how e-books had flung open many doors for writers. I thought that was interesting, and I mentioned it to my husband and he said he had also seen many articles saying much the same thing. I jokingly said that I was going to write a novel. My husband, who believes I can do anything, thought it was a great idea. I have always enjoyed writing even though I had not written much since having children. As a teen, I used to mail short stories to magazines and such, and like most avid readers, I always dreamed of someday writing a novel. Now I had my chance.

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SELF-TAUGHT LATE BLOOMER

Please welcome the fabulous Indie Chick, Carol Davis Luce, to my blog this week. Her story is inspiring to us all, in one way or another. Take it away, Carol!

SELF-TAUGHT LATE BLOOMER

Carol Davis Luce

My motto is, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” I wasn’t born to write. I didn’t aspire to be a writer from the time I could hold a Crayon. I could, however, draw, and make things take shape through form and color on paper and canvas, and that’s the path I traveled well into midlife. The artist’s life opened up my eyes and mind to expression and sometimes stories through composition on that blank eighteen by twenty-four inch stretched canvas. Then one day it changed.

As a voracious reader, I was content to read what others wrote. I admired those writers who had mastered the craft. I was happy to dwell in their world for 300 pages, to laugh, cry, and be enlightened and surprised. Until one day when I closed a book by my favorite author and felt something was missing. The novel was a mystery/suspense with elements of romance. The suspense was killer. The romance, however, was lacking, missing those subtleties that resonated with me. I wanted more. The promise of romance was there, but fizzled somewhere along the way. For me, it wasn’t about graphic sex. It was about sexual tension, passion, love. After searching unsuccessfully for novels to satisfy my romantic suspense fixation, looking for just the right balance, I realized I had to write the book myself.

Only I knew nothing about writing a novel, let alone a genre book with a sub-genre. So I went to the library and checked out a reference book titled, HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL. Easy enough, right? If dedication is easy, then it was easy because I was driven. My artist’s passion shifted to focus on the writer’s canvas. That canvas was structure, words, emotion, and truth. And the rest is history.

Well, almost.

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Never Give Up On Your Dreams by Christine Kersey

Please welcome fabulous Indie Chick, Christine Kersey, to my blog this week. Here’s another inspiring story about never giving up on yourself or your dreams. Thanks for sharing, Christine!

Never Give Up On Your Dreams

by Christine Kersey

I love to read and lose myself in a good story – forget all that is going on around me and be in the story with the characters. One day in 1997 I finished reading a novel by Joy Fielding and realized she hadn’t needed to be an expert in a particular field, like medicine or law, to write a good suspense story. This fact inspired me to try my hand at writing. It also didn’t hurt that we’d just gotten our first computer and I can type much faster than I can write longhand.

At this time in my life I was thirty-two and my youngest child was three. I also had three other children who were in elementary school. A stay-at-home mom, I was able to carve out some time to work on this project. At first I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. What if I couldn’t complete it? What if I failed? After a short time I told my husband, mother, and sister and they were supportive.

I kept working at it, day by day, until after about four weeks I’d finished a complete novel. At that point it was nowhere near ready to be published, but I’d proven to myself that I could write a novel with a beginning, middle, and end. I continued working on the story, then put it aside and began working on another.

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