Friday, February 03, 2012

Pom-Pom Parade

It's not hard to promote, talk about, create a buzz or cheer for something you love and fully believe. In fact, it's hardly any work at all. The praise comes naturally due to your personal admiration. But, how would you feel if you had to promote and support something you didn't necessarily love or particularly believe? It's no walk in the part, let me tell you. There's nothing more depressing than a dull "Rah!" I had to do it for over a year, and I wouldn't ever choose to do it again. It's left a really bad taste in my mouth, and wrinkle in my cute little cheerleader outfit.

I could never do something if my whole heart wasn't fully invested, not any more. I don't believe in cheering - for cheering sake. If I did, I think I'm a pretty good cheerleader, and I'd be rolling in victory with an over-abundance of associates and acquaintances. However, I've turned a point in my life where I no longer have an ignorance of the game being played behind me, but an inward purpose and a load of self-respect, and a pom-pom full of true Spirit.

What I mean by that is this: If I support you, it's because I believe in you. I don't even have to like you to respect your work, what your doing or what you want to accomplish in this world. On the other hand, I might just like you as a person, but not quite support your work. I try to find something in each person that I can love and support, so that my cheers are genuine. I really have developed a high intolerance for false appreciation and false modesty, as well as developed a high appreciation for people being real, open and honest. Believe me, I KNOW when someone sends me false accolades.

I won't always share your opinions, your likes, your dislikes, your taste, or your vision; but what I can share is respect. As long as you are honest and speak the truth - whether I agree or disagree - you'll have my respect. With my respect, you'll have my support and praise. Maybe not always for all your opinions and issues, but I'll find some common ground and a way to inspire you. This might not lead to world peace, but it has created a peaceful world within me.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Milledgeville Misfit - Give-A-Way




Goodreads Book Giveaway





Milledgeville Misfit by T.L. Gray



Milledgeville Misfit


by T.L. Gray



Giveaway ends February 29, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.




Enter to win


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Milledgeville Misfit - RELEASED!

Milledgeville Misfit is now LIVE!


I've done my job.  I've conceived her, nurtured her, gave birth to her, corrected her, dressed her, and presented her in the best light possible - now it's time for her to SHINE.  While she explores the world, I'll do my part of being a proud parent (author) and support her, rave about her progress, and brag about her as much as I can. 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Milledgeville Misfit Give-A-Way - Hop

 
I will be giving away a free copy of my latest young-adult novel "Milledgeville Misfit" as part of the Give-A-Way Hop hosted February 24th - 28th.

Check back here for more details closer to the HOP start date.

CCWC January 2012 Newsletter





Precious Time

One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve run across these past few years is that:  people who don’t punch the clock from 9 to 5 have what is known as “free time”.  The truth of the matter - those that work from home are usually time-pressed. They are go-getters, creators, inventors, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and world changers. Their day doesn't end at five o'clock, their on 24 – 7.

For me, when I made the decision to put writing as my top priority, my time devoted to my craft became precious; something to guard, something to treasure. There are all kinds of things, including “good” things, that want to steal that time. I have to protect it or else it'll get away from me. There is always a noble cause to support around every corner, but I'm only one person and can't do everything. There is only 24 hours in a day for me, just as it is for everyone else. I must prioritize those things that are most important to me and what I feel is the path laid down before me by God. If not, I can be busy doing "good" things, and miss what I was meant to do.

Working from home requires a lot of discipline. You can be easily distracted and lose your focus. It takes a disciplined person to wake up every morning and focus their attention on their destined target. It also takes a disciplined person to not allow their feelings to lead them, because feelings can waiver and get you off the path.

I exercise my body first thing in the morning. The first 15 min. is really more of a struggle between my body and my mind than anything else. If I only exercise when it felt good, I would never step on the treadmill. Yet I keep my target of good health and a balanced weight before me and push through my feelings. I must apply the same principles to my life as a writer, or it'll get lost by the wayside. The world as a whole doesn't understand this concept, because writing often doesn't produce the financial fruit of a 9 to 5, but it can. Thank God I don't have to please the world, because I'm at the point that I could never imagine doing anything else.

So the next time you ask me to do something and I turn you down, don't take it personally. It's not that I don't deem your cause worthy, I just deem my time more precious.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Author Appearances

February 2012

Book-Signing 
Neva Lomason Public Library
710 Rome Street
Carrollton, GA  30117
Friday, February 10, 2012 
6:30pm - 8:00pm

Book-Signing

Dog River Library
6100 Hwy 5
Douglasville, GA  30135
Saturday, February 25, 2012 
11:00am - 1:00pm


March 2012


Book-Signing
Horton's Books
410 Adamson Square
Carrollton, GA 30117
Saturday, March 24. 2012 
12:00pm - 2:00pm


May 2012


Book-Signing
Underground Books
102 Alabama Street
Carrollton, GA  30117
Saturday, May 5, 2012
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Don't Be Hatin'

One of the things I can't quite understand when it comes to authors is why there is sometimes jealousy and animosity between writers.  We're not in competition with one another.  There are plenty of books to go around.  Stories have been told long before we arrived, and will continue long after we're gone.  If anything, we should support one another.  

What benefit could there possibly be for me to know or associate with a failed writer?  I can't think of anything.  However, there are endless possibilities of knowing and associating with a successful one.  Not only out of the goodness of my heart should I encourage, inspire and support my fellow authors, but it's in MY best interest to do so.  I don't have to LOVE them, actually, I don't even have to LIKE them on a personal level, to support and wish them the best in their endeavors. 

Still, from time to time, I come across that beleaguered and jealous writer who not only wishes for my failure, but will go out of their way to help support it.  They’ll spread slander, malice and pray to the gods of destruction to place every obstacle and roadblock in my way.  I feel sorry for them.  They’ve already lost, and are already defeated, regardless of their book sales.  This defeat may not reflect in their book sales (even a snake could sell a book) – but as a decent human being. 

I choose to separate myself from those who only have negative thoughts, actions and intentions. Instead, I choose to surround myself with dreamers, artists and people who desire to share their gifts and talents with the world.   I may, or may not, hit the New York Times Best-Seller list, but I’m already a success , because I’ve surrounded myself with successful people.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Monday, January 23, 2012

Please Yourself


Have you ever tried to do something, yet everyone around you didn't understand your actions or motives? While many people express their support, their actions don't necessarily live up to their confession? What do you say in those circumstances? What do you do? One thing you can't do - is give up.

Sometimes I find myself pulled between two worlds. I love each side equally, that neither fully. Don't get me wrong, I'm not straddling the fence. I find the place I inhabit, is a place of my own choosing; not theirs. Let me try to explain this more plainly - I am a writer, a scribe, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a Christian, a deacon, a leader, a friend, a business partner, a marketer, a dreamer, and yet I must strive to find a balance between all of those positions. Often times some of the expectations of these positions oppose others, not that they have to. 

We are complex people, living in a complex world. Each of us is an individual with their own ideals, beliefs, and expectations. But I have learned over the past few years, I can't change or manipulate my actions to satisfy someone else’s expectations. Not everybody is going to like my choices. Not everybody is going to support my decisions. Not everybody is going to think I'm making the right judgments for myself. But the bottom line is: these are my choices, decisions, and ideals. The only person I must please - is me.

I’d love to make everybody happy. But I'm not fool enough to believe I can. However there is one person I can strive every day to please – myself. Just as I have discovered truths about love, I'm learning the same thing applies to peace and happiness. I have to first be filled with peace and happiness, before I can share it with the world.  If I'm truly happy with myself, then I can be happy for you. If I can walk in peace, then I can offer peace. We can only share what is in the overflow. If we have nothing, we have nothing to give.

So today I encourage you, do what makes you happy.  But remember: though everything is permissible not everything is beneficial. Sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking something or someone will make us happy, when happiness is truly a simple decision. It’s not found in a gift, an object, another person, or a possession; it’s a state of mind.

Till next time,
T. L. Gray

Friday, January 20, 2012

Never Stop Learning

 I'm what you might call a self-learner.  While I love instruction, I get the best education by hand-on application.  I do read directions, but I like to 'use' the item, program or machine WHILE I read the instructions.  That way my hands learn at the same time as my brain.

This morning, I am learning to use my new program "Dragon". While things are slow going at the moment, with each practical use it gets a little easier.  With this program, the biggest thing I have to learn is how to speak properly.  I guess you could say the lesson would be that with practice comes perfection. My typing and writing skills are above average, but my speaking etiquette could use a lot of work.

The last couple of weeks I have been in editing mode. While I scanned the pages of my manuscript, I searched for every grammar, typo and punctuation error.  But that was only one step of the process. Today, I am focused on structure, formatting and font selection.  While I have grasped a general understanding of the word processor I use, I realize there is so much more that I need to learn. Today I am challenged with the subject of headers and footers. I know that the only way I am going to learn how to properly use these options are to play around with the program. I have to get that hands-on experience; just like using this Dragon program.

The bottom line of what I'm trying to say is - we never need to stop learning. If we ever get to the point that we think we know everything, we’ve learned nothing. There is always something new to discover, a new skill to inherit, a new understanding to be revealed. I know many people in this world want to jump to the conclusion, the solution, or the end to receive the fruits of their labor, but I find the true treasure is in the trials and tribulations of our journey - not the end. The pride that comes from a personal accomplishment is so much more rewarding than a gift. While we may struggle in our quest, the payoff is even greater.

Never stop learning. You never know what you'll discover tomorrow.

Till next time,
~T. L. Gray

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Don't Give Up - Keep Running/Keep Standing

Giving up is the easiest thing in the world to do; it takes the least amount of energy and releases the largest amount of pressure.  However, while everything I do is permissible, not everything is for my own benefit.  While I am free to give up (I have the power to choose), doing so isn't always for my good - even if I'm wrong.

Standing fast, holding out, and refusing to move is hard, especially when it comes to standing still.  I might not think standing in one spot, refusing to budge and keeping my eyes focused straight ahead is easy (compared to digging, shoveling and barreling through), but I'm finding it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  I'm also discovering it takes a lot more faith to stand still than it does to move.  My mind is constantly bombarded with questions of, "What if I'm wrong?", "What if I'm making a mistake?", "What if I'm supposed to be doing something else?" and "Am I wasting my life and time?"   Yet, I can't move based on what I think and feel (the two major contributors that lead to confusion). 

My thoughts can be deceptive and my feelings can change with every shift in the wind.  The only way to make it across the finish line is to put aside thoughts that want to take me out of my lane and send me in the wrong direction, and push through the aches, pains and fatigue.  I must relegate my breathing, concentrate on the goal I want to achieve and push forward - even when I have to stand still. 

So, what if I'm wrong?  What if the path I've decided to take is the wrong path?  The only thing I can do is continue with the quest I'm currently on until I receive a clear directive to shift, but not based on shifting thoughts and feelings.  Perseverance means to push on in the midst of opposition.  Without opposition, there's no perseverance.  Without options there's no choice.  Without determination and a desire to win, there's no victory.  Without other runners, there's no competition. 

Press on.  Continue to stand, even if you don't think or feel like it.  The only way you're truly going to know if you're in the right race is to finish it.  And if you are wrong ... so what?  You've at least accomplished something and have a more clear idea of what race to run next.  And if you are right ... you've won!

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Keezy's 10 Awesome Rules for Teenaged Dating Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Keezy's 10 Awesome Rules for Teenage Dating is a "10"!, January 16, 2012
This review is from: Keezy's 10 Awesome Rules for Teenaged Dating! (Paperback)
I read Keezy's 10 Awesome Rules for Teenage Dating to my mentally challenged, twenty-one-year old daughter. She absolutely loved it! She laughed and enjoyed all of Keezy's zany antics! It's hard to find a book these days that contains down to earth, moral advice written in a very stylist and contemporary voice. You love Keezy immediately, and you care about what she has to say. I had no reservations about reading this to my daughter since Keezy's advice was tastfully delivered. She covers a plethora of subjects important to today's teenager. No rocks left unturned, so to speak. I would recommend this to anyone with a teenage daughter! This book would be great for book clubs, church youth groups, or any venue where teenage girls congregate. Keezy's 10 Awesome Rules for Teenage Dating is a "10" all around!


Thank you, Laura! That was a wonderful review.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

P.s.  Happy Birthday, Meagan. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Characterization


When I'm writing a character in one of my novels, I try not to form them into the idea of who I think they should be.  While I may have some idea, their true personalities emerge as I get to know them. If I try to force my idea, eventually the true personality will conflict and the plot will form holes. This is a common mistake I see among many writers, myself included.

When I'm writing a new story - I try to brainstorm as much as possible of what I envision for the plot, but I try to keep the main ideas and characterizations in various shades of gray. If I color the story or characters in too much I end up with a huge brown mess.  We all know what a stinky situation that would be.

When I'm reading a story - the main factor that keeps me glued to the page is a simple fact of whether or not I actually care for the characters.  If by the second or third paragraph I have not already been introduced to a character and can sympathize, feel empathy or outright dislike, most likely I will put the book down and never pick it up again.  While there are some great tomes that are action oriented, that's not my preference. 

I love Harry Potter because I love Harry Potter and I hate Lord Voldemort. I get bored with The Lord of the Rings because I do not care about a ring or the salvation of a bunch of people I know nothing about.  I love Eragon because Paolini allowed me the privilege of being right there beside Eragon as he transformed from a simple farm boy to a fearless dragon-rider. I won’t even mention what Cinda Chima Williams did for the the Demon King with Han, or my how I hoped passionately for Elizabeth Bennett to capture Austen’s Mr. Darcy, or hopelessly fell in love with Dumas’ Edmond Dantes.  These stories are great because their characters are great.

Don't get me wrong, I love action. But what good is a great battle without a passionate reason?  Just to win is not enough. Sacrifice without heart-felt purpose is meaningless.

As you think about your story this morning, think about the heart of your characters. What do they feel? What do they fear? What are their hopes, their dreams, and their passions?  What makes them unique?  What drives them? What angers them, makes them lose control, and makes them compromise their values? These are the aspects that draw me into a story.

Till next time,
~T. L. Gray

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Deadlines & Excellence

There are some positive and negatives to everything in this world, including deadlines.  Having a deadline gives me a clear and precise expectation and a time-frame to work within to meet them, while struggling to also maintain a spirit of excellence in my work. 

Deadlines and expectations also gives Murphy the same thing.  He tends to work overtime to do, send and lend a hand to anything he can think to knock me off course, tempting me to rush and give only partial effort. I must persevere, push forward, and not allow anything to give me to pause or an opportunity to present less than my best.

Today I sit here with a clear deadline and directive from my publisher to complete the latest edits for Milledgeville Misfit.  Half my face is smiling; the other half shares a grimace, yet on I strive for excellence.    I'm reminded of a proverb: "Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men."  Again, I have such great expectations.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray