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Naysayers Can Bite Me: Encouragement for Writers

Bite Me T-shirt Jeannie M Bushnell

Bite Me T-shirt Jeannie M BushnellI cannot tell you how much I love this shirt. It glows in the dark, too!

 

It isn’t always a lack of motivation that prevents us from accomplishing our goals. I have witnessed too many people give up on a dream because they had no one in their life to offer support and encouragement. Our personal relationships have a profound impact on what we accomplish, as well as what we perceive we can achieve.

Throughout my education, I was fortunate to be surrounded by teachers and friends who supported my efforts and encouraged me to pursue my writing ambitions. Adult friends and acquaintances have been a different experience. Sadly, many people see writing a book as a fanciful task, an unnecessary self-appointed employment. Unfortunately, some of those very same high school friends who were once so supportive are now silent. I’ve found the silence to be the most hurtful.

I should not have been surprised, for as an entrepreneur I’ve encountered the wall of silence before. While business start-ups are no less personal, the endeavor to write is the most personal of all. I wasn’t prepared to hear crickets from friends who I have known and supported throughout different stages in their lives. I believe in being a cheerleader for my friends, and I expect the same in return.

I can only guess why I haven’t heard squeals of joy from the people who have chosen to be silent. I know some people are shocked that my first book is in the romance genre, and since they don’t read that genre, they are at a loss for words. Some people are very indifferent to the success of others, and then there are those who feel they do not need to expend valuable energy on another person.

It is no easy task to write a book. It requires commitment, sacrifice, and persistent effort. Writers who finish a book do so because they are forced to continue; they are driven to scratch the compelling itch. Many people do not feel this passion for their work every day. People go to work and do what is required of them as they count down the minutes until they can return home or resume the activities that give them pleasure. Writers, often feeling as though they are having too much fun, enjoy the work they are passionate about completing.

As creative writers, we must learn to destroy the inner voice of defeat and ignore the critical naysayers that surround us. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not encouraging you to surround yourself with “yes” robots who tell you everything you produce is amazing. Everyone needs helpful critical feedback!  However, we don’t need to listen to the voices that predict failure even before we’ve attempted to succeed. Whether they are scared we’ll be successful and leave them behind, or they are attempting to protect us from failure or criticism, their reasons are their own, and we must learn to ignore them.

I’ve worked in animal rescue my entire adult life. Some people have horrific hobbies that center around abuse, torture, neglect, and death. If someone tells me they are doing anything that doesn’t involve the maiming, torturing, or killing of another living being, I take it as my personal duty to throw a hand on their back in praise and encourage them to go for it. It may sound silly, but it truly can make all the difference in someone’s world. We cannot afford to be stingy with loving support.

It takes nothing to give another person a supportive nod and encourage them toward their dreams. If there is a cost, in the form of a stamp or a phone call, it is minimal, but for most, there is no cost. Shouldn’t everyone be encouraged to do more, be more, and achieve greater things?

If we cannot find the encouragement we need within our circle of family and friends, we must go in search of new people who will be supportive of our creative efforts.  Seek out others who not only share your excitement, but are staunchly standing on your side of the bleachers cheering you on. These like-minded individuals will have a keen understanding of what you are going through, and they are more likely to give you the type of support you need. Cherish these positive people, and surround yourself with them. Pay the kindness forward, as someone else is in need of the encouragement you crave.

“You need so much energy and encouragement to write that if someone says something negative, some of that energy goes.”

-Joyce Carol Oates

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Edit Your Manuscript While Listening to Text-to-Speech Readers

icon for audio

icon for audio

 

Thanks to The Digital Reader, I read the post by Morris Rosenthal of Foner Books that detailed how he uses the text-to-speech (TTS) function on his Kindle as a proofreading aid for his writing. I don’t have a Kindle, so I wondered if I could do the same with Microsoft Word, and after a quick search, I found the helpful instructions that got me on my way. I used the same method to activate the function in OneNote, which is my favorite writing program. Play around with the speed settings and find the right speed for your reader. I needed to adjust mine, as she was reading too fast, and it caused some words to run together.

Hearing your words spoken, even by a computer voice, can help you find errors your own voice or eyes may have missed. When a writer reads their own work, it is easy to overlook misplaced or missing words. Our eyes can easily deceive us, since our brains want to supply the words we had intended. Our ears are much more reliable. I love having more tools to help me edit and proofread my work.

Here are a few other sources I found that you may find interesting.

WordTalk is a free Widows text-to-speech plugin for Microsoft Word, and if you fancy, you can download a Scottish voice to read text back to you (free w/restrictions, or pay).

NaturalReader is a program that offers a free “cut and paste” and type reader with two male voices and three female voices (limits you to 200 words). They also have a free version you can download in addition to the other packages available for purchase.

Another free program is YakiToMe! that touts it is the world’s leading unrestricted, free text-to-speech (TTS) website. You can “cut and paste” and type your text into the provided box, or upload a file, including a PDF. I typed in a simple sentence and enjoyed the robust reading and clear voice that read my words back to me.

Happy editing! Feel free to share any TTS programs that you use.

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Throwback Thursday: Scary Witch Tongue

Jeannie M. Bushnell at five years old with Halloween witch mask.

Miley Cyrus has nothing on the five year old version of Jeannie. I dropped the scary witch mask and decided to stick out my tongue. Apparently, this was a more terrifying image to me than the mask. I find that mask disturbing today, and I cannot imagine what would make me choose it as a child. I do have an affection for a bushy eyebrow; perhaps this was the inception.

 

Jeannie M. Bushnell at five years old with Halloween witch mask.

Jeannie M. Bushnell, 5 years old @ Halloween

I love that my hair blends in with the field behind me.

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Throwback Thursday: Halloween as Dolly Parton

JMBushnell as Dolly Parton

I was raised in a house of country music. I can sing along to all the “vintage” tunes of the likes of Dolly, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Jeannie C. Riley, and the rest of the musical brat pack of their day.

For my first ever “Throwback Thursday,” I give you me, age 9, as Dolly Parton, complete with wig and false eyelashes. This is one of the few times I’ve ever been photographed with dangling earrings. I have always preferred studs–stud earrings.

 JMBushnell as Dolly Parton

This was taken at my elementary school, Toler Elementary in Garland, Texas. I believe the school held a Halloween party for the students.

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Biting Into the New Adult Romance Genre: Manual Exposure

book cover for New Adult Romance Manual Exposure Jeannie M. Bushnell

The first chapter of my manuscript, “Manual Exposure,” is available (free of charge) for you to read at Harlequin’s annual “So You Think You Can Write” writing contest, on the Wattpad site. The contest is open to writers wishing to publish in the “New Adult” Romance genre. The new genre is about the time in our lives when we are, simply, new adults (ages 18 -25).

book cover for New Adult Romance Manual Exposure Jeannie M. Bushnell
I created this book cover! I captured the mountains in the fall of 2011.

 

 

You must be logged in to a Wattpad account in order to vote! I appreciate your support!

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Writing Buffet: My Eyes Are Bigger Than My Stomach

 

My father loved buffets. He loved the variety of food, and he enjoyed the opportunity to stuff oneself until the desire to be rolled out of the restaurant overcame the ability to walk. I never liked to make repeated trips to the buffet, so I had a tendency to pile one plate high with my choice of nibbles.

“Remember, your eyes are bigger than your stomach,” he’d chastise when he saw me attempting to balance one more serving atop a mound of food. He neither wanted to waste food, nor did he want me to become ill from overeating. I never had to worry about either of those problems. My parents, who claimed they had reached their fill, would pick at my plate and eat the remainders.

I am in the middle of a writing buffet, and my eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach. After declaring that I would throw my hat into the ring for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) writing competition, I have been stumbling across loads of other interesting contests and writing opportunities. My calendar from the end of September until the first of December is packed with the promise of writing two books (minimum of 50,000 words each), and editing a completed short story to transform into an e-book.

My father would be both proud and filled with concern. He’d warn me to get enough sleep, eat well, and take some time for fun. He would also know how important this is to me, give my shoulder a strong shake, and grin at me. He’d say, “Get to it!”

Off I go, attempting to balance my overloaded plate. I’m hungry for this work, and I aim to devour it, leaving nothing unfinished behind.

Thanks for coming along on my journey.

 

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Spring Into A Good Book

book by W. Houghton

 

Forgive me. Yes, I should love spring. Spring has its benefits–my yard chipmunks begin to frolic and play, the robins return to their favorite feeders, and the winter that continually covered the ground in ice has been defeated. Yes, there are positive aspects.

Then, there are those spring rituals and problems that I’d rather do without. The grass needs mowing, trees and shrubs call for pruning, an old house has drainage and flooding issues, and my sinus cavities are invaded and react violently to the blooming bounty of spring.

I’d rather stay inside and read a bit.

Like most book lovers, I find it difficult to say no to any homeless book. I have multiple copies of my favorites and just can’t seem to stop purchasing anthologies of literature. I hated lugging those things all over campus and yet am compelled to fill my bookshelves with them now.

While I still find the actual smell and weight of a book comforting, I do enjoy reading books online. Here are a few of my favorite places to turn to when in need of a good book (distraction).

Project Gutenberg: So old school it’s new again. Over 27,000 entries to tempt you.

LibriVox: While most audiobooks seem to relax me and lull me to sleep, I do enjoy them. Free audiobooks and you can volunteer to record chapters. I vow to volunteer at some point during the year. I will, I really will.

Bibliomania: Should your online reading hit a wall and you find yourself struggling, these guides can help you.

World eBook Fair: July 4th – August 4th, 2009 – You’ll have 1.5 million eBooks at your disposal. Pace yourself, you only get a month of free access. Annual membership is $8.95.

Any links you would like to share?

Illustration:

Country Walks of a Naturalist with His Children by W. Houghton @ Project Gutenberg