Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Happy Gilmore sometimes lacks patience and self-control. When he gets frustrated he punches out game show hosts, throws clubs and attacks alligators but when he needs to focus on an important task like making a winning put, he thinks of his “happy place.” He envisions little people riding stick horses. He lounges on a hammock while his grandmother wins oodles of money at the slot machines. His “happy place” calms him down and helps him focus by regaining a proper perspective about what he wants most.

George Castanza attempted a similar retreat into the happiness of his mind by meditating and calmly saying “serenity now” when he felt distress. He was not quite as successful as Happy. Pity.

As a writer I sometimes feel frustration and perhaps even distress from time to time. Usually, these moments occur as I struggle to remain patient. I have been learning to be more patient with myself as I write and edit, and re-edit and re-edit. Patience is also required during the weeks and even months of waiting during the query process. Then, once the manuscript is accepted it is more waiting, often for a year or longer until the book is released. Although these long, painful delays are a natural part of the writing and publishing process I must remind myself that patience is a necessary attribute for any writer.

The other night we had 2 kids playing in 3 baseball/softball games. My son’s team ended up losing 18-3 but mercifully the game ended early. I watched error after error. I felt like yanking my brain out of my head by the roots of my hair, but instead I sat back, took a deep breath and muttered “serenity now.”

Next I headed over to my daughter’s softball games. This is her first year of softball and the pitchers consistently walk batter after batter, usually allowing the maximum of 6 runs each inning, nearly all runs scored by walks. UGH! Seriously. “SERENITY NOW!”

While I am very proud of my nine year old scoring four times on walks, three hours of watching a double-header gave me a bit of a headache. At moments I sat back and closed my eyes and imagined my “happy place.” I imagined a place where the pitches don’t roll over the plate and the batters occasionally swing. Then I thought of Peanut Butter M&M’s. Mmmm. Then I thought about a plot point in my WIP I’ve been stuck on for a couple of weeks. Then I thought about my hopes for my next release and dreamt about pie in the sky scenarios for wild success. Ahh…”serenity now.”

After calming down I regained perspective on what matters most. I watched and cheered with every new walk and I went crazy every time someone swung the bat. I remembered how thankful I am for my family and the blessing it is to sit in the sun and watch my kids have fun. I reminded myself that proper perspective and patience is critical in every aspect of life. Writing is no different.

Remember, when the agent or publisher has been holding onto your manuscript for three months and you haven’t heard a word from them, “serenity now.” It’s going to be okay. Be patient, go to your “happy place” and keep busy writing on your next WIP. Life is good so don’t stress the wait.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WARNING: This may seem REALLY stupid...but I'm fine with that.

Cedar Fort recently accepted my 2nd novel, Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island and it is set to release in March of 2012. Naturally I'm thrilled. This is a mid-grade fantasy set at Crater Lake in the Oregon Cascade mountains.

I've been thinking about the importance of Crater Lake to my novel. It really couldn't be set any place else. There are so many facinating details about Crater Lake that bring life to the story. Wizard Island really is a small volcano sticking out of the water of the crater which was created by the collapse of a massive volcano 7700 years ago. There really is a rock structure in the lake called the Phantom Ship. There really is a place called Danger Cove. These real settings create a realism within the story that allows me greater latitude in building the mythology of my fantasy world. Without the realism and consistency, even in a fantasy world, the story will fall flat.

I recently went to a wax museum with my family. Yes, it was a little creepy but I found myself evaluating each wax figure for authenticity. I had my picture taken next to Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba (much to my wife's chagrin) and even through the craftsmanship of the wax figures was impressive, they didn't look real. The figures didn't look right and therefore were not believable. So I had my picture taken next to Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff. Guess what--same problem. But then I got my picture taken next to Danny Devito as the Penguin from Batman. Wow. That was a chilling and believable depiction.

So what does a wax museum have to do with a fantasy world set at Crater Lake? In both cases believability matters...alot. The moment I start pointing out problems with the wax figure or the setting of the novel, the magic is gone. The experience becomes empty as the emotion and awe is stripped away because of imperfections and inconsistencies.

I think of other settings that have captured my imagination and to me they often feel more like a main character than simply a place where the story takes place. I think of Hogwarts with its moving stairs, enchanted pictures and roaming spirits. I think of the vibrant Land of Oz, the Bat Cave and the magical Fablehaven. These settings don't simply allow the action to take place, but they push the conflict and action forward. They are not merely the backdrop, they are dead center in the story. Hopefully Crater Lake will be center stage as well.

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Retirement Quest Website

The state of today’s economy is insecure, causing concern in many people and fear in many others. It used to be that we relied on our retirement income to see us through our golden years, but we now have to face the reality that we must take action to ensure our well-being in the future. How do we go about this? What steps do we take, where do we go, how do we know we’re doing it right?

Financial advisor John Hauserman, CFP®, has created a no-cost website as a tool for you to use on your financial journey. This site features the amazing Planning Map, designed to help you think like a financial planner. You can begin by setting up an account at no charge, complete with your zip code which will enable you to save your progress, but your information will never be sold or given away to any outside party. Or, if you prefer, simply skip registration with a single click. As you chart out your financial situation, you will never be asked for account numbers or personal information.

As you go through and create your personal profile, you’ll feel in control of your future—a sense of freedom and independence that perhaps has been missing since the economy went downhill. You will get the tools you need to help:
1. View the financial planning process from the eyes of a CFP® professional in a user-friendly format that most find easy to understand
2. Get the whole story on various investment products, not just “the good stuff” that financial (snake oil?) sales folks talk about
3. Find useful links to government and other helpful websites
4. Identify if a financial advisor has been thorough in their duties
5. Identify and avoid fraudulent advisors
6. Make better financial decisions

You’re invited to stop by the RetirementQuest® website and see for yourself if this is a tool you can use. Again, it’s no cost, and all you have to lose is your financial stress. Those who take action now will find themselves in a much better place later—why delay your future security? Plan ahead and be prepared.

Securities and advisory services are offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, member FINRA/SIPC. A Registered Investment Advisor.

Check out the website and let me know what you think.