When Discovering Aberration is a Good Thing!

LADIES AND GENTS: Prepare yourselves for a wonderful treat! One of my dearest and earliest bloggers I met here on WordPress in the beginning, has done all I set out to do except he actually, actually accomplished it!

He is the hardest working, most dedicated author I know of and one of my fave authors sharing that honor with Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Cussler, and yes my main man Charles Dickens.

Sit back, enjoy your read, and please dearest readers, please repost!  Let’s spread the word!

SCBarrusPortraitsOriginals0050

 Creating

There is this thing out there floating around the universe hiding secretly behind every passion. I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s there planting seeds and fueling flames. The Romans called it a Genius (origin of the word Genii), a spirit that would inhabit the bodies of passionate people and make them feverishly create things.

I don’t know if I was ever possessed in such a manner. All I know is my life has been driven by a singular passion since I was young. Maybe it was planted when I was very small, this urge to create things and share them with others. Maybe it didn’t take form until I was older. Whatever the case, this passion, this creative drive has fueled every major decision in my life.

Hi, my name is S.C. Barrus and I’m a writer. I remember writing my first short story back when I was still in elementary school. It was a satire about the growth and bankruptcy of Microsoft and it was all of 2 pages long. I wrote it grinning all the while, convinced that the work was genius.

I was so excited to hear what others thought, I ran to my dad and began to read the work aloud. He listened patiently. He didn’t laugh, didn’t so much as smile. As my jokes fell flat, part of me fell through a hole.

I quit reading midway through. “Maybe I should write about something else…” I said nervously.

My dad looked at me with a quizzical half smile and said, “Maybe you should.”

For some reason, I didn’t stop writing that day. And my dad has been a huge support since (didn’t want to leave him hanging there ;)

I was in highschool when I really sat down and began writing a novel. I wrote it with a deep passion convinced it was a masterpiece. It was full of teen angst and sex and drugs, all the things my adolescent mind obsessed with, and was written with a style stolen directly from Chuck Palahniuk, my teen hero.

When I finished writing, I started exploring the strange world of publishing with a fervour. I taught myself about publishers and editors and agents, about queries and rejection. The process struck me as strange then, but I accepted it because I supposed “that’s the way it is”. It felt strange that I had put in so much work and alone created something, but when the book sells I’d get 15%. But then again, what did I know?

Despite my drive, the book was never picked up, and I was left with nothing but a stack of pages littered with ink. To this day, I’m glad I littered those pages with ink, because I learned so many valuable lessons. But I’m also glad it didn’t make it, because that taught me even more.

Despite the outcome, my creative writing teacher got behind me, and my school counselor began giving me gifts; books of poetry, pamphlets to writing contests, and an award for literary excellence. It might have been obvious, but I didn’t recognize it at that time. There were people guiding me from the beginning, people who believed in me.

Ira Glass once said that artists start creating art not because they are talented, but because they have good taste. It takes years before an artists work is any good. I was going through the motions, hoping to make a great work of art, writing and writing all the while. I pushed new stories into the world one after the other, sometimes publishing, but usually merely for the act of creating.

Then, two years ago, I began crafting another story. About midway through the writing of it, I realized that this was it. I was creating something worth standing behind and sharing with the world.

Check back next week for part 2 where I share with you the story behind my upcoming novel.

Cheers,

S.Cody Barrus

 

 

I Don’t Know What Parallel Universe I just stepped out of but…

Multiverse by Leo Villareal

Multiverse by Leo Villareal (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

Have you ever seen time do a wobbly thing in front of your eyes that you have passed over as je ne sais quoi?  And kept on going as though you were in your right mind?  Perhaps it was a small wrinkle in the space time continuum.  I have also heard it, in less scientific terms as a brain fart.  It’s like a glitch and lasts but a second but you are left somewhat perplexed.

Anyway I probably have had the best blogging weekend in ages starting with a very early morning post about Odds and Sods  that ended up with my considerations on Bullying/Brutalizing and an argument about over protection and the consideration that if Adversity were needed to build strength, we might be facing a problem.

Then sad news of murder in Long Term Care and thoughts from my own experience in that particular arena sort of fell out my mind onto my screen and before your eyes.

Then I reblogged a post from my dear friend Pat Cegan our Source of Inspiration on Truth.  It was soothing and wonderful.

Then I got caught up in the world of innocence and direct clear language  of 5 yr olds so just had to post that.  And then the bend in the time warp happened.  I saw my stats clearly and posted that I was one hit from 30,000 views and I comment from 3000 comments.

For some reason I went back to check and yup you guessed it.  I was wrong – in error- I must have been looking at an alterverse of me, because and yes this moment in time is the exact number:

VIEWS 29,129

COMMENTS 5,016

Jeesh short a few on views by about 800 and shorted my self on comments by about 2016.

Next time check Christine.  And again Christine especially if a little of space time fabric does a little crease at your eye lever.

 

 

Daily Prompt: Call Me Ishmael – The First Sentence

I usually do not post on a weekend but the Daily Prompt caught my eye and of course I just had to respond.  DP Challenge: Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.

My very very first thought was my favorite first sentence is not in my favorite book.  Way back in October 2011 I wrote about three of my personal fave authors and called it Cussler, Koontz and Stockett, and the line said, “Death was driving an emerald green Lexus“.

The first sentence of my favorite book is “He should never have taken that short cut.”  It’s from Michael Crighton’s book TIMELINE and the poor book is barely hanging on to existence.  Well actually it is not hanging on at all.  Its soft cover is curled back from the spine top and bottom.  The back cover has about an inch square flapped firmly back and some of the pages are missing.  At first I kept putting the pages back loose leaf like and then one day a few pages disappeared.  That was okay as I thought I would just fill the gaps in from memory as I read and reread and reread.  This book has served me well for the last twelve years but I can’t put it to rest until I replace it.

I discovered a long time ago that bedtime reading cannot be anything I am currently reading for the first time because I simply cannot put the book down.  So bedtime fare is one of a few fave rereads (although sometimes I get so caught up in it….well you know.)

So my poor book, like a weary soldier continues to soothe my soul and mind and guard against that thief of the night, Insomnia’ and yes it will be retired once I find another copy.

my valiant knight/night

my valiant knight/night

looks pretty weary huh?

looks pretty weary huh?

held together by the last straw I think

held together by the last straw I think

Daily Prompt: Morton’s Fork – To Read or To Write

Elizabeth Browning

Elizabeth Browning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Daily Prompt folks picked a suggestion by Courtney that certainly seems a lot easier than that old Shakespeare quote: To Be or Not To Be.  Although really if one is then you already are Being which of course is a very very superficial interpretation.

Today’s Challenge from WordPress is: If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not your own), which would you pick?  Why?

For me there is no challenge.  I am definitely a reader.  I’ve tried writing…okay..so I continue to try.. and it is difficult.  Okay Okay…sometimes it is fun.  Well most of the time it is fun and there is a certain satisfaction to be had in creating but, and this is a pretty big BUT, I am a reader.  Of many things.

If I have four books at hand then I will devour them within a week.  I know, we are not talking about books.  The Challenge pertains to blogs.  Your blogs.  And yup I will surrender my pen or rather keyboarding digits to read what you write.

Reading (blogs) is more than information gathering and it brings to mind yet another poem.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning‘s How Do I Love Thee.  If I had one thing I have not had in this life it would be the relationship she had with her partner, coauthor, and husband Robert Browning and the passion and devotion she so sweetly shared with the public.

You see for me, reading your blogs, inspires, educates, motivates, consoles, comforts, exhilarates, invigorates, provokes, prompts, excites, and generates a whole mess of thinking great thoughts.  Why I wish I could list all of you and what you do for me (although that is what I am seeking to do in my Friday Following in the FootSteps series – about to be continued this week). To name names in a single post fills me with fear of forgetting even one person and besides it would take pages and pages and pages and … well you get the idea.

To read and not write, if it had to be one way or the other is a no brainer for me because in addition to all the reasons there is one even more important.  In sharing yourselves, your thoughts, you are allowing yourself to be known.  To be cherished.  And therein lies the real truth.  You have become part of my world, part of my existence.  And my life would be poorer without you.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Bowning (1806-1861)

*Women Who Write – A little NaNO Inspiration

NaNoWriMo

I think it was last week that someone getting ready, set, go, was wondering about ways to prepare for National Novel Writing Month and someone in the comments (I do apologize for not being able to give credit where due) suggested just read favorite inspiring writing.  The library has kept me busy the last few weeks with my faves with some new additions including Peter James and Stefan Bollman and Zoe Sharp ( I am finally getting to the Charlie Fox Series!)

Anyway – back to my preparation and ‘Women Who Write’.  Sometimes when I am unsure what to do or how to do it, I Get Stressed.  And of course this foray into unknown territory might have started to create some stress except for the wonderful advice as above. READ.

Well that’s about the easiest advice, for me, there is to follow.  Each Wednesday morning I traipse off returning one set of treasures and gathering new.  Yesterday I wandered somewhat aimlessly waiting for inspiration to beckon, and it did, in spades.

The first book was Shirley MacLaine‘s ‘I’M OVER ALL THAT’ published by Atria Books that was inspiring, funny, and thrilling (largely I guess because we are not too far apart in age).  I love her books, they are never dull!  At 218 pages it was a perfect afternoon’s read.  MacLaine feeds my sense of adventure in literary unknown because she is so brazen.  Brazen enough to tell it like it is, her perception, with out sounding pompous or weird or egotistical.  She feeds my bravery in daring to express.

Then tucking aside Zoe Sharp’s ‘Second Shot‘ published by Thomas Dunne books as it is definitely dessert in this literary repast of mine, and I want to get through my delicious hors d’oeuvre and main course before I can savor this sweet treat so I turned to nonfiction.  I often have no idea exactly what I am after but aisles are walked, directions changed and before you know it I have in my hand exactly what I needed.

I don’t mind nonfiction but my style is to choose fiction first and then possibly stroll elsewhere.  For now and the immediate future, like the next 30 days, my interest is in writing fiction so that has been my literary diet for sometime.  The point is that my search took me to the nonfiction section and directly to a section on Writing.  There, practically leaping off the shelf and into my hands, was ‘WOMEN WHO WRITE’ by Stefan Bollmann published by Merrell.

Now this large size book, sort of in the style of the Coffee Table Book seemed insistent at coming home with me.  I considered the weight, the size and whether it would fit in my bag and put it back on the shelf to see what other offerings there were.  Nothing.  I kept picking it up, sort of like a puppy at a pet store that cries, ‘take me hooome!’  So I did.

Francine Prose did the Foreword and her first line was as gripping as the rest of the book: ‘A writer, any writer, is dangerous enough.’  HAH!  I was hooked.  The stories are incredible, the photos breathe life and when you open the cover the essence of these women writers, the ones who had to use male pen names, the ones who died in German concentration camps (more than I ever imagined), the ones whose brilliance was too bright too remain in this life and chose to exit, and the ones who lived successful lives that touched worlds.

Inspiration?  Yup, I think I have it.  And tomorrow, November 1st it begins.  Our own journey – Men and Women.  I only drifted to Women Who Write as that is my own inspiration.  So off we go all!!

What is your Inspiration?

NANOWRIMO Getting Ready

Well here I go getting ready for this year’s event.  I chose not to do it in 2011 – fear of success or fear of failure sort of thing you know.  A few or perhaps many of my heroes I brag on each Friday in FITFS series are taking part, and since I praise not just for the sake of praise but also to somehow emulate the brave folk they are I am jumping in with both feet and all attached parts.  The NANOWRIMO site is full of information so today I shall try to sort that out.

Once I signed in I tried to put my photo in the appropriate spot but for some reason it will not upload, so those others who are participating can use your own imaginations as to what I look like.  I have chosen my badge for the event.

30 days.  Wow.  I know many of you have been successful so that is encouraging.  Also my dear Celi is taking part and I think my friend Joss is also so I could not be in better company.

I am not sure how to connect to community yet but will get that done today.

How many of my VCH (Very Classy Heroes) are also joining in?

 

WHAT I HAVE TO REMEMBER

I just have to remember this is only thirty days so it does not have to even last as long as Kim Khardashian’s marriage.

I can join as many regions as I like – (must do today)

It may be difficult at first but will get better as the days go by and the word count increases.

Being a Marathon of sorts I can get some sponsers to contribute to – “NaNoWriMo is run a tiny team of eight novel-loving souls at the Office of Letters and Light (OLL), a grassroots nonprofit, and is funded almost entirely by participant donations” – which seems like a good idea and good motivation.

There is lots of great information at this link so please do look it over and please my VCH do let me know if you have signed up.  Your very presence alone will inspire me!

FITFS Lois Roelofs Champion of Nurses into the 21st Century

LOIS ROELOFS

Blogging Heroes

Blogging Heroes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am hesitant to write today’s FITFS (Following in the FootSteps) series for two reasons.  The first is that Kathleen Korthuis, Lois’s sister passed away October 5, 2012 and so her focus is on preparing Kay’s eulogy and dealing with the sorrow and loss experienced by her family, friends and herself.  You know that the purpose of FITFS is to honor my heroes.  Writers of the blogging world who inspire me to be better and to somehow emulate them.  Writers have allowed me in some way to be part of their life.  I decided to go ahead with this post to let Lois know that she is in our hearts at this very difficult time.

The second reason I hesitated is that Lois is exactly who I would like emulate but she has set the bar high.  She is the ideal for me and I am in awe of her life and what she has accomplished and continues to accomplish.

Like me, Lois Roelofs has her heroes and certainly the most important was her sister Kay who was her lifelong career mentor.  In fact both of them attended the Blodgett Memorial Hospital School of Nursing and Lois’s 50th reunion takes place this weekend prior to Kay’s service.  How bitter sweet that must be.  Kay graduated in 1955, Lois in 1962, – oh and me from South Waterloo Memorial Hospital in 1969.  That’s right.  There is a sisterhood bond here beyond writing, nursing and blogging.

You know how some people, like all of my heroes, do what so many do, but they do it with that extra touch of class?  It is that extra touch that I guess I want to emulate.

Lois, says in her ‘About’ page that she initially started the Blog to center around the publication of her career memoir, Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor’s Journey of Faith and Self.  She is a Chicago girl, wife, Mom, and Grandma.

Blodgett Memorial Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a nurse from about the same era touches my heart and makes me get all mushy about old hospitals and old uniforms. (I still think the old fashioned hats signifying who the registered nurse is instead of non-nursing staff was wonderful.  We worked hard to get those black bands on crisply starched hats).  I took the photo below from the Blodgett web site and Lois also has the same one on her post of October 6th.  Kay helped open the first intensive care unit in the country in 1958 and she is the nurse poised over the desk.

Kathleen E. korthuis, PhD, RN

Lois I know this FITFS may seem more about Kay than you and someday soon I may do another honoring only yourself for your incredible achievements.  But I hope you will let me join you in dedicating this post to your sister,

KATHLEEN E. KORTHUIS, PhD, RN 1934-2012

Folks I hope you will stop by to visit Lois, read about her incredible life, say hi, and leave a comment or two.

Friday’s FITFS …..Linda Cassidy Lewis

FITFS

Linda Cassidy Lewis The Brevity of Roses

 Each Friday I write about somone in the blogosphere who teaches me lessons, is supportive, and like all my Following in the Footsteps heroes is someone I would like in some small way to emulate.

How do I choose my FITFS?  Selecting first, or second, or third would be nigh unto impossible.  In addition to wanting to  honor those who I admire it seemed the easiest way would be to select those who take the time to comment on my posts first.  If you have ever commented then it is quite likely that some Friday, ‘when you least expect it you’re elected’ as the song from Candid Camera goes, you will be highlighted here.

 

 

This theme takes a better defined form  each time I do it. FITFS started out as a blanket praise and is evolving into delicious declarations of each writers’strengths, my fave posts or quotes (cause fave posts are almost impossibloe to choose), and what I have learned or what has inspired me.

Linda Cassidy Lewis is a California girl originally from Indiana.  Artistically she began expressing her creativity through drawing and eventually portaits with clientele in the US, Europe, and UK.  She is the consumate artist, drawing, living art, beading, and of course that fave expression of each of us – writing.

Certainly LCL (don’t her initials even seem poetic?) is dedicated, tenacious, persistent and very talented.

It is almost impossible to choose a favorite post – there are so  many.  Her first post was I believe October 13, 2008 in which she discusses how the Ms. Perfect side of her being judges everything she writes as garbage and with she posted a quote by C. J. Sherryh; ‘It is perfectly okay to write garbage as long as you edit brilliantly.’

My fave quote by Linda herself is; ‘When  you hoard imagination it suffers a sad, lonely death, so, as an act of mercy, I write fiction.’  Bloody brilliant I say!

See this author is all about inspiration so how could my own Ms. Perfect even think of holding me back.  So far Linda  Cassidy Lewis is the Doer and I with toes in the frigid unknown seas of publication stand poised and ready to jump in, getting braver every moment by her display of bravery.

She has a number of literary projects on the go and is the published author of ‘The Brevity of Roses. and I quote from Michelle Davidson Argyle author of ‘Monarch'; Told in gorgeous poetic tones, The Brevity of Roses will take you on a journey delving into the unique characters as delicate and beautiful as a rose itself.  Lewis’real understanding of relationships is phenomenal.’

Do yourself a favor and visit the mulitalented, multifaceted gem of a writer, and please click a ‘like’ or leave a wee comment for her.  Something we all appreciate!

I am now off to the last supper for our Scots cuz who alas must depart tomorrow!

And once again in case that linky thing isn’t working or I have made a mistake, please find LCL at lindacassidylewis.com

 

FITFS ..and Chattering About It

Our Following in the Footsteps today is known as The Chatter Blog.

First I must take a moment to say thanks to my supporters and cheering voices.  I am empowered and probably a little bit cheeky at this point.  We all need to get a little cheeky now and then!

Colleen Brown – even her name has a poetry to it which is a good thing because every thing she creates has flow and rhythm and humour and wit and passion.  Her very first post was on Sept. 13, 2009.  And her very first statement was, “I don’t have any wisdom to share.”

Well, she certainly proves herself wrong on a daily business.  Don’t you love it when people prove themselves wrong especially when it is about themselves?

Colleen is prolific and hilarious and when she is not killing us with laughter she touches our hearts with sentiment.

She bikes.  Hence the bikecolleenbrown of her addy.

She loves her Irish heritage. Oh and just a bit of a warning to the enemies of planet earth – you won’t get far with this black belt defending us.  Can you imagine – a black belt?  How long it took and all the hard work, focus and strength it took to reach it.  Wow!

Colleen is part of my core group – from the beginning – and if she has not heard from me for a bit she will fire off an email or FB message making sure I am still in the land of the living. My favourite though it is hard to choose is from May 20, 2011

She writes great fiction – though I tried to find it on her site and could not — so Colleen if you would like to direct us to that wonderful woman seeking out her past and finding much more I would sure reread it.

So what can I learn from Colleen?  Get it down, get out, write write write!  The choicest morsels come from the heart ( that in no way means I eat organ meat ingestion – ugh!)

Have a wonderful day and please do catch up with this writer!

This Writer: Facing the Fear of Excellence

Some of you have noticed my sporadic attendance in posting these last few months, and I thank you for your encouraging words.  I have been occupied by an annoyance of sorts: no not defending the universe from hoards of bad guys, not working out twenty-five hours a day to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics, and certainly not sitting in my vault at Gringots counting my wizard gold.

I have been facing an impenetrable wall called The Fear of Excellence and trying to figure out a way over, under or through.

When I first started posting on WordPress.com I had no idea what I was doing and frankly the first couple of months were nothing.  Aimless actually.  Then in February 2011 I started getting comments.   Well first it was ‘comment’ and that came from Tricia at the domestic fringe on February 25, 2011.  Then Joss popped in, then Pat Cegan and then Colleen.  That original group is still with me along with a few others.  That’s when I started writing to an audience.  So for the rest of 2011 I started posting whatever popped into my cranium.  I cheered on my blogging friends who achieved the sacred Freshly Pressed status and began to toy with the idea that I too might make The List.  Then the persistent thought became rather annoying and I decided not to focus on it at all.

I kept reading successful bloggers trying to determine exactly what ‘successful’ meant.

The IT happened.  The Wall.  The Wall of Excellence.  Well I was thrilled!  I spent days reading every post, my heart pounding with excellence as I viewed HER body of work.

First emotion – Joy – – Inspiration, excitement.
Second emotion – Laughter -Yes!  That is the standard I seek!
Third emotion – thread of caution  – um….maybe
Fourth emotion – Fear – I can’t do that! (this one lasted quite a long time)

Convinced I wanted to raise the bar, but gripped by The Fear of Failure or The Fear of Success I stopped regular posts. And even worse I stopped working on my novel, ‘Propagation’.

Have you ever lost your footing? Your grip? Your mind? Due to fear?

That Fear, that Excellence has a name and it is Cecilia at thekitchensgarden.

After wrestling with the demons of the dark side I finally found inspiration again.  I discovered I wasn’t afraid of Celi or her talent.  I was afraid of myself but succeeded in calmly thinking things out.  Now it might seem that calmly thinking took but a few minutes but it took ages.  Simply ages.

Finally going full circle I decided I could raise the bar by working at getting better.
First I needed a theme and to find it started a series of FITFS – following in the footsteps – writing about bloggers I admire and discovering what makes them successful.
Second for the ‘Oh The Plots We Weave’ series I looked at news stories and considered the possibilities for fiction.
Third I discovered a desire to do a ‘This Writer Series’ for all other subject matter.

Next I needed to commit to a schedule.  Three Themes – Three days.  It will look something like this:

Monday Mayhem – Oh The Plots We Weave
Wednesday – This Writer
Friday – FITFS

With a number of changes, challenges and events I have not been able to think about Propagation for months.  Characters and story lines sit patiently waiting to be given a voice.  Now that I am doing all this bar raising I have a sense of purpose and direction.

So what bars are you raising?

*I know this is Tuesday not Wednesday but ‘This Writer” just could not wait one more day.  When a plan comes together, one simply must act.

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