#MondayBlogs Fall: A Season to Let Go (Of Creative Block)!

Hey guys! Does fall feel like a fresh start to you, too? If so, what are you hoping to change? Let’s chat!

Hey guys! Thanks so much for joining me today. I am back on my regular schedule! You know, the main reason I’ve been so absent this year is two reasons:

 

1. Is confidence. My book did not do well at all and even got some extremely negative reviews on an Advanced Reader Copy review site and it really hurt my creative confidence. It made me question if I have what it takes to be an author. Furthermore, it made me not want to be creative at all!

 

 

2. Mental illness made me question the point of everything, I know there’s no shortcut to anything that matters, and I know how super important it is to be consistent on social media every week! But not only was my depression and anxiety making it extremely difficult to wake up and get out of bed each and every morning; it also produced an annoying but ever-present voice in my mind ask: why does this matter?

 

 

Deep down I knew I wanted to post, but the couch is so very comfortable and there’s so much to watch on Netflix that I didn’t really stand a chance!

 

Because I really DO love talking about writing and the creative life! Not only is it super inspiring, but I love helping others feel inspired too! In fact, that’s why I started to begin writing in the first place! I wanted to create inspiring stories that empower the reader! To make the reader feel special. And that’s why I took the negative reviews so hard. I felt like I failed. But there’s more stories to be told! More books to be written!

 

And I think in my fog of mental illness, I forgot that. So here I am, starting over.

 

 

I’m going to try and let go the negative thoughts of others. I’m going to try and let go the pressures and stress that my co-workers and bosses dumped on me. And I’m going to let go of the very strong worry of publishing another failed novel.

 

I’m going to start over. As a student. I’m going to pretend I’m back in college ten years ago in 2008 and I don’t know anything about writing. It’s time to re-master my craft. From grammar basics, storytelling strategies to character development and plot twists. I’m going to pretend like I’ve forgotten everything I think I know about writing and start anew.

 

 

There’s something kind of thrilling about starting over, don’t you think? Because when one let’s go of their bruised ego, maybe that means that anything is possible!

 

 

It might be 80 degrees around here and hardly feels like the first week of fall in my shorts and sandals, but mentally at least, I’m ready for it to be fall. I’m ready to start over as if I was starting a new semester in school. So much has changed for me this year, both in health and career, in friendships and changing of interests. I’m not sure if I’m going backward or forwards in my life, but the important thing is to keep moving. As the cheesy saying goes: if nothing is changed then nothing is gained. Or, something like that.

 

So what about you? What are you going to let go if you could? Share in the comments below, and let’s let go, together!

 

As always, happy writing!

 

#MondayBlogs: 20 Years of Hogwarts My Home. Thank You @JK_Rowling!

20 years of being a faithful Potterhead has been a blast! How has Harry Potter changed YOUR life? Share in the comments before! And tag a Harry Potter fan!

This weekend Twitter reminded us it was 20 years ago this past Saturday of the US book release that Harry Potter first crossed the Great Lake (the Black Lake in the films) and Twitter was feeling extremely nostalgic with many #BackToHogwarts posts. Barnes and Noble, Simon & Schuster and the New York City Public Library (my novel has a scene that takes place there, BTW!) and other news pages all were tweeting #HarryPotter20 fandom vibes. It made me reflect on how instrumental J.K. Rowling’s magical masterpiece really was in my life and I dedicate this post to Harry and the fans that made it a wonderful journey to be a part of.

But 20 years is still a very long time. I had been there since the beginning. It was back in middle school. Would have been the 7th grade. 13 years old I was. And I found it totally by accident. Little did I know, my life would never be the same. I remember very clearly the day I found the Boy Who Lived. But it felt like, Harry and his extraordinary world, had found me. Let’s take a trip in my Pensive, a.k.a. memory lane, and see where my first steps into the most wonderful Potterhead fandom began…

So it was an English assignment, and it was one of the toughest ever. We had to pick out a BOOK in the LIBRARY in only THIRTY MINUTES! Now I’ve never been much of a reader. So this challenge was a great task for me. I remember scouring the stacks of this library looking for … sigh, a book. Well, I browsed and browsed and browsed the children’s / MG books of 1998 and found nothing. Then I browsed the rest of the library. Teacher was looking at me, so I pretended to be interested in some of the spines of books so she thought I was busy. But I wasn’t busy, I was bored!

There was a strange book with a boy riding a broom on the cover. Huh. I walked by. I was frustrated when my friends found books with fifteen minutes to spare. They started to check out their books and even started reading already! I was running out of time. Teacher even reminded us our time was almost up.

I sighed, and snatched the spine of the book with the boy riding his broom. I stared at the title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. Uh, okay. I didn’t have time to read the back blurb. No idea what it was about, but it was a book, I wasn’t going to get in trouble, and I was happy enough. I checked out the book and showed it to my friends. They LAUGHED at me and said that was a kids book. I stared at them: uh, weren’t WE kids?

We headed back to the classroom just in time for the next period. I managed to complete the first part of that assignment, yay!

A couple of weeks into the assignment and I was really enjoying the book! Like really, really enjoying it! Loving a book that didn’t feel like a forced reading assignment was a new sensation to me. It flew by and it was fantastical. I remember sitting at our reading times during one English class, and actually set the book down on the table on it’s spine and declared to myself loudly, proudly in my head: “I can do this. I write a story like this.” and ever since then; it’s been my dream to be a writer!

I remember when the books started to REALLY take off. It was the third book in the series that the rest of the nation was starting to catch up to the ‘Potter-Mania’. But by then I was well obsessed with the series. I was already in some roleplaying forums online (back then I was obsessed with an RP site called Twilight-Sky before it became a clique and full favoritism/cyberbullies), I was researching more about the Harry Potter world and Hogwarts. I even got in trouble with my family because my older brother caught me using the computer interacting with Harry Potter fans and saw the “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” and called my mom ASAP just to get me in trouble. “Mom, Mom, Claire wants to be a witch! Mom!” That brat!

It was very hard before people knew what the books really were about to explain I was not interested in ‘goth’ or the ‘dark arts’. But I didn’t really care. Even though the argument led me in tears and made me feel strange for liking such a book, I knew it was worth it. Because with those books, I felt apart of something. I was part of an online community that was like no other. My real life friends also slowly picked up on the series and we formed our own ‘Hogwarts’ houses. Of course: I was in Hufflepuff.

At first, I was offended because I was chosen last for the house and got stuck with it, but then I came to love it. Keep in mind, this was before we knew about Newt Salamander and Cedric Diggory. Hufflepuff wasn’t cool yet. We formed our houses in book three. But I wore my literal badge we made with pride.

It was the third book when it slowly started to become an international sensation. And the fourth book when they made the first movie. And then no longer was I laughed at. No longer did my family think I had a secret interest in witchcraft. They understood. They finally got on the Harry Potter bandwagon and wow did that bandwagon explode!

One of my friends stopped liking Harry Potter when it took off. She didn’t want to ‘conform with the masses’ or whatever. I shrugged. I didn’t care if it was getting so popular — it made me love it more!

Dressing up for the midnight showings and midnight book releases. Getting anxious because the next book was taking FOREVER to be released! Roleplaying online what we thought was going to happen. Shipping Harry with Luna and Hermoine with Draco. Pretending we were going to the Yule Ball too and dreaming which side-character would ask us to the ball (I was practically in love with Lee Jordan and crushed he didn’t get hardly any screentime). Predicting what cruel trick Snape would do next before we knew his true backstory. Getting BLOWN AWAY by the twist at the last two books. And making new friends who shared a love for the fandom. Debating which house was the best, what our Quidditch position would be, and if we would be brave enough to sign up for Dumbledore’s Army or not.

My friends and I were also obsessed with the James Potter years, creating our own stories about their misadventures in Hogwarts. It was brilliant and even though we were well into high school, we felt like we were still kids. And with how popular Harry Potter had gotten, it became, cool. No longer did we feel like dorks. We can wear our passion with pride.

Yeah, the 90’s and early 00’s were a wonderful time to be alive as a Harry Potter fan. Granted, it still is! We’ve still got a massive fandom of almost three generations. We have the Harry Potter worlds. We have the movies that are immortal on the silver screen (and no slaughtering unicorns required!) and plenty of Merch to make us feel like a real wizard, just like Harry. But it’s not quite like before the books finished. I suppose, though, that’s why they call it nostalgia.

To be honest I still haven’t seen the last two Harry Potter films. I haven’t read the Cursed Child. And I haven’t re-read the HP books in a very long time.

It’s not that I’m over Harry Potter. Not even close! And I still declare myself a Hufflepuff with pride, even on my Tinder profile! I know the reason I haven’t seen the last two HP films: I don’t want it to be over.

I know it’s silly. But I treasure my Harry Potter memories. There’s so many! It’s why I became a writer. It’s how I met so many wonderful folks online. Some of them I even met in person from other countries! But I just don’t want the journey to be over. I know it never will be, because I’ll always have those memories in my heart. But I worry that if I watch the last two films, that it’ll be like, growing up in a weird way. Saying goodbye to Hogwarts forever, somehow. And I’m not ready for that. But I know that’s a silly way of thinking. Because Hogwarts will always be there for me! No matter how old I get.

Because as JK Rowling herself said:

“Whether you’ve come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

I simply love how supportive Jo is of her fans. I adore how she recognizes how deeply impactful the books are to us, and she doesn’t mock us. She doesn’t tell us that it’s not real or we need to grow up. No. She welcomes us home. And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, no matter on what degree, we all have shared that home together.

And that is where the true magic really lies. It lies within us.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to watch the last two Harry Potter films. Maybe it’s time to appreciate the gift that J.K. has given us, and move forward. Not grow up. I could never do that, not really. But onwards is a good place to start. Because as Dumbledore once wisely said:

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
-Albus Dumbledore

Thank you, J.K. Rowling, to be brave enough to publish something so completely different back in the 90’s. Thank you for giving me the gift of an interest in writing and accepting my imagination instead of being ashamed or afraid of it. Thank you Harry Potter fans for 20 years of a magical journey. Thank you to the new generation who will love the books as much as we did. And thank you for reading this post today. It was an emotional one, but I felt like my #HarryPotter20 needed to be shared.

What about you? What’s YOUR #HarryPotter20 story? I know everyone has at least heard of Harry Potter – but have you ever felt a personal connection to it? Have you ever called Hogwarts your home? Share in the comments!

I hope you all have a magical journey back to Hogwarts this week!

Thanks, Potterheads! Stay Geeky!

~A Geek Named Claire

7 Reasons Why Back To School Is Fantastic for Authors & Creatives! #MondayBlogs

Back to school isn’t for just teacher’s and students! It’s a fab time for creators too! What do you love most about this time of year?

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For a few weeks now, there’s a great chance that your inbox has been spammed with Back to School promos.
Sorry.
Here’s one more Back to School post for you.
But this one isn’t cringe-worthy like the annoying Target and Staples ads. It’s like we get it: you sell office supplies!
But here’s why that’s a great thing, even if you’re not a teacher and don’t have kids like me. For creatives, this can be the best time of the year! Here’s why:

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1) Sales, sales, sales!

Well this one is a major no-duh! Oh, but how I love great sales! Target, Walmart, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max — they all have ah-maz-ing sales this time of year! So sharpen your pair of scissors for coupon clipping and let the sales hunting begin!

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2) Stock Up

With all these amazing sales you can stock up! Stores like Target and Walmart love to target (no pun intended) “going back to college” so you can find some steals on coffee makers, basic kitchen stuff and also STORAGE ORGANIZATION! Why wait until the end of the year to do your master filing? Get a head start now!

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3) Did Someone Say New Notebooks?

Is it just me, or is there something MAGICALLY INSPIRING about a new notebook? Even if you’re not a writer, a new book just SCREAMS endless possibilities. The world is your fucking oyster. Just got to know what you want to do first. And a notebook can help inspire you to define your goals. And this is extra perfect if you’re into Bullet Journaling — or BUJO as the Interwebs passionately calls it.
Bottom line: everyone can use a notebook or three, and now is the time to get them!

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4) Never Worry About Losing Your Fave Pen!

Don’t you hate it when your co-workers or family members steal your pens? Can you say rude? Well with the Back to School sale, you can stock up on cheap pens to have on hand to pass out, so you can save the special pens just for you!

5) Stock up on Healthy Stuff too

This is like a second new-year’s where “new year new you” is thrown back. Did you fail your new-year’s goal? That’s okay! The year’s not over yet! So stock up on vitamins, protein powders, and all the healthy things to get you pumped to end the year on a strong note! You can often find these sales with the ‘Back to College’ section. Just because you’ve graduated school, doesn’t mean you can afford to flunk out on these deals!

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6) Tech Can Sometimes Be on Sale

Although more common sales in the beginning of summer for the ‘Dads & Grads’ sales, a lot of times laptops, cell phones and tablets can be found on sale trying to get the college-bound student prepared in style.

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7) Feel Nostalgic

Okay, even though you might not NEED anything to stock up on, doesn’t it get you a little nostalgic for the college days?  Do you ever find yourself wondering what you would have done differently? Or what advice would you give someone just starting school if you could? Or are you happy with how your school experiences turned out? Share in the comments if this time of year leaves you feeling nostalgic for the school days.

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Do you love this time of year? Or are you sick of all the Back to School ads? Share in the comments down below!

 

It Takes a Village to Raise a Book! #MondayBlogs #AmWriting #Author

You’ve probably heard it takes a village to raise a child, but did you know it also takes a village to raise a book? And that’s the village called Twitter!

It takes a village!

When people describe being a writer, they often call it a lonely craft. And traditionally, I can understand that. I would imagine, that the days before the Internet this was true. I can imagine the writers of yesteryear being incredibly lonely.

But this is 2018, MOFO’s! 

There’s no reason to be lonely anymore.

Sure while we’re actually writing, we’re in seclusion. Assuming we’re actually doing the writing bit of claiming being a writer.

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Because as I’m sure you know, writing is about 80% saying we’re going to write 15% procrastination and 5% actually writing-writing.
Author Claire Smith

But let’s focus on that 80% saying we’re going to write. Because that’s the part that makes writing not so lonely. And that’s why I call out BS on the modern writers who call writing a lonely craft.

For who do we tell that we’re going to be writing? Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr. And those wonderful platforms all have the wonderful #amwriting community.

A community full of crazy people who knows what it’s like to feel crazy.

Who understand when our normal friends and family doesn’t really understand what you mean when you tell them your passion is writing. The ones who ask you what it’s like to be a writer, but when you try to explain to them they kind of look at you like they don’t really care they were just asking to be polite, or who think you’re crazy from what you’re describing.

Your normal friends will say “huh, cool” and then quickly change the subject. Or they’ll magically know someone else who is a writer and talk about that person. Or perhaps they’ll start talking about what their favorite book is. And then you start to wonder if they actually ever considered all the work that went into their favorite book, or if they just care about the final product. And then you’ll wonder why you’re friends with the normal person. Or perhaps more accurately, why that normal friend is friends with you. After all, they’re so normal! You’re so weird! How did that ever work? But then the subject changes, and you’re back to being besties. And your weirdness of being a creative buried once more. Until you get to Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr and unleash your craziness to the poor, unsuspecting Interwebs.

So that’s why it’s so important being part of the #amwriting community. And that’s why I insist every person I find is a writer and not on Twitter that they join Twitter.

Because it takes a village to raise a book. And that village is called Twitter!
Author Claire Smith 

That’s why sometimes you’ll see long forward’s before a book start, or maybe they’ll thank their community in the back. But those authors are the ones to follow. Those authors check their ego at the first page. They get that the book is not theirs alone. Sure the idea is, the characters are, and the plot might have been theirs alone. But without the immense support of the #amwriting community, without the affirmation that we are not alone in this crazy world of being a creative and that we’re not going mad by making up stuff in our head for the sake of our stories … to them, I say CHEERS and from the bottom of my geeky heart THANK YOU.

So I hope you have a creative week y’all, and get back to #amwriting! Because the 5% of the chart might be small, but damn if it isn’t mighty! When that magic does finally happen, it truly is, well …. magical!

So what are you working on? Would love to hear from you in the comments! Let’s discuss how writing can make us feel like a crazy person, or how people react when you first tell them you’re a writer!

The Nostalgia of Summer Reading #MondayBlogs #SummerReading

What is your favorite genre for summer reading? Do you have a special fond memory of a book you loved in the summer reading season?

 

Ah summer. where the days are long and the nights are short and the season we’ve been looking forward to all year is finally here! Summer! And summer means READING!

Is just always been the case. When the days get hotter, we want to get lost in another world! Even from a century ago:

One August day, more than a hundred summers ago, The Boston Globe sent a reporter to the library to find out what the city was reading. The year was 1894, and a helpful librarian supplied a list of books checked out the day before: one title from history, two from science, none from biography, and a staggering 52 from fiction. “I could tell by looking at a library record what season of the year it was,” the librarian remarked, “even if the date was not attached.
-The Boston Globe http://bit.ly/2IL0MeG

So what IS it about the summer that makes us love fiction so much? Let’s think about it:

  • Escaping The Heat
  • Dog Days of Daydreaming
  • Entertainment: With School Out, it can get boring!
  • Beach Reads
  • Reading While Traveling
  • Reading on the Run
  • Reading While Waiting

So what do YOU think it is about summer that makes us love reading so much? Leave a comment and let’s chat!