This is How We Do It

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ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

First of all, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for the overwhelming responses I received for the release of my second novella, John of Art! I am beyond touched and honored to have so many congratulations for this latest book of mine! This was the book that didn’t want to be written. With so many obstacles and twists and turns over the years, I’m so thrilled that this book was finally published.

For those of you who are interested in purchasing the book, for now, it’s only available through Amazon in paperback and Kindle e-book format, also e-book format through Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and anywhere e-books are sold. I am working on getting the paperback distributed through B&N, Lulu, and other outlets and will reveal that when it’s finally available that way as well. My wonderful voice over artist will be working on the audiobook soon and that will be out the end of August, early September and I will let you guys know when that’s available as well. There is a song that accompanies the book. If you purchase the paperback or ebook, the QR code scans directly to the song. I figured there’s no sense in waiting for everything little thing to be completely done when the book is just sitting there on Amazon so I decided to do a limited release for the paperback and e-book version through Amazon and trickle the remaining releases as they come over the next few weeks. If you’re interested in purchasing the book you can do so by clicking on the book cover below. Thanks again to everyone. I have never felt this loved! Hugs to all.

There is one thought-provoking phenomenon that I’d like to address based on the many comments, compliments, and praises I’ve been receiving regarding my latest book that has me thinking. One of the most common comments that I hear as an author when I talk to non-writers is “Oh, you wrote a book? I should write a book too!” Not only do I find this to be a backhanded compliment which, in my opinion at least, diminishes the accomplishment of the author and makes it seem like it’s such an easy task that any average Joe off the street can achieve this themselves, which they very well may, but there are some things many don’t consider.

There are issues many don’t realize when they decide they want to write a book. Writing the book is the easiest part of the whole journey, it’s what you do after the book is done that’s what really weeds out the weak. You have to shift away from being a consumer to being someone who wants to sell your product. An important thing to ask yourself too when you want to write a book is “Do I support other local writers?” If that answer is a hard no then ask yourself the next question, “If I don’t support local writers then what makes me think that other people will support my work?” I try my best to give shout outs, likes, and praises to fellow authors. Honestly, I just don’t have the funds to buy each and every book of authors that I really like but there are so many ways to show your support. Even a friendly shout out and kudos from a fellow writer is one of the greatest joys and pleasures that I get out of writing that surpasses the delight of actually publishing the book. I made a promise to myself that when I was financially set that I would buy books of fledgling artists but for now my praises are all I have to give.

I’ve been writing professionally since 2016, and I’ve learned the hard way that friends, family, acquaintances, etc. are not always going to be your target audience. Depending on what you write, your style of writing, what you’re trying to depict in your work may not resonate with those in your closest circle. You need to widen the net past those closest to you and start networking and talking to others and build a connection. The novelty wears off after the first book and your friends and family will buy less and less of your work. You need a fanbase and those who follow and support your mission and what you’re hoping to relay with your words. Writing is not a frivolous action. Writers write with meaning, with intention, with the hopes that with every word we write, our readers will decipher and decode our words to learn who we really are as human beings. Writing, to me, is my battle cry. Writing is my way of getting people’s attention to a certain issue that bothers me so that others will get just as passionate and join me in making the world just a little nicer for us all.

Marketing your work takes patience and takes hours of networking. Social media exchanges, blogging, podcasting, newspaper articles, interviews, etc. It’s a lot to digest. Building a writing community with other fellow writers and artists so you don’t feel like you’re in this all alone is paramount to any other action done to create a successful career as an author. A prospective writer needs to decide who they want their demographic to be. Consider why you are writing a piece and why should someone care that you’re writing? It’s so much more than saying here, here’s my book, now give me your money. No, it’s I’ve just poured my heart out on these pages, will you take a chance and read this book? And even though it’s a work of fiction, if you read between the lines, you’ll learn more about me than you’d ever hope to know.

Saying things like I should write a book too truly reduces the hard work that went into writing and presenting this work to others and makes it seem like just anyone can just pick up a pen and write and make a good book. I wrote about this in a blog a year ago where I stated that just because you can string words together in a sentence doesn’t make you a writer and just because you can write doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Everyone’s got a sob story. Everyone has a story they believe would make a great book. But there’s a significant gap between those who feel they could write a book compared to those who actually achieve that goal and make the book a success. I’ve known people who spent their whole lives just writing one novel. I also know people who can crank out book after book after book. Everyone is different. Writing is challenging. People are going to criticize you and diminish you and reduce you to minuscule proportions. Writers develop thick, reptilian skin and rejection and criticism comes with the territory of writing.

You will learn who your true friends are, who your true advocates and champions are, as well as the leeches who hang onto you for dear life hoping you’ll make it big so they have an excuse to follow you around wherever you head next in life and be able to say, “Hey, I know that person! She’s my friend!” When in actuality they are no friend of yours. Other questions to consider: Do you become self-published or traditionally published? What genre you want to write: poetry, short stories, screenplays, movie scripts, tv shows, Broadway plays, novels, fiction, nonfiction, romance, speculative fiction, etc.? Do you get an agent? Do you need an agent? What’s your budget for each work? Can you live without watching t.v., going out with friends and family, and living as a hermit for months until your work is finally finished? Who will edit your work? Are the people you choose to read your work willing to sign non-disclosure agreements? Do you have trustworthy people in your life that will give you helpful, supportive feedback that is not negative or mean-spirited? As a writer, you begin to weed people out of your life who don’t follow or support your mission as a writer. You are either Team me or you’re not. There’s no time for being on the fence or being unsupportive.

I have people who have been reading my blogs, listening to my podcast, and following me since I started writing day one and that is something that I cherish the most. Those who have proven themselves loyal and have stuck by me and have carried me through the worst patches of my life while also joining me in celebration during my triumphs. Life is a nasty road to navigate through and you cannot do it alone. It is an honor and privilege to have you all there alongside me throughout this Odyssey.

Also, the expenses for writing and working really hard trying not to get duped by companies desperately trying to steal your precious dollars for services you don’t need like editing, formatting, book cover creation, submitting to services like Amazon where it’s free to publish, book review services, etc. People just see the final product. The book. And everyone’s suddenly a writer and an expert. It’s a silly thing to say really. And those words shouldn’t be wasted. I don’t want to hear maybe you should write a book too. Come back to me when the statement becomes, “Look, I’ve written a book.” Then we’ll talk. Until then, saying congratulations followed by a period is sometimes all the commentary that’s needed. Thanks for the continued support and thanks to those who have or will purchase the new book. I cherish you all and look forward to new and exciting things that are yet to come.

 

Upon Wit’s End: How the Near-Fatal Sting of Rejection Invokes Passion

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ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019. 

When I was twenty-eight years old, I was smack dab in the middle of working on my master’s degree. A few years prior, I had just gotten fired for the first time in my life and I was so lost, so depressed, and I was essentially an empty shell of a woman. I lived in my bathrobe as I wrote paper after paper trying to finish up my degree. I overate and ate the worst possible foods ever, I watched a lot of t.v., I played online Scrabble endlessly for hours when I wasn’t working on school work, and I isolated myself from the outside world. The only thing that was going right for me was my educational path which I clung to for dear life.

One afternoon, my sister came home from work and forwarded me this writing contest. She told me to give it a shot and that the prize money was worth at least entering. So I did. I wrote this short story called, “A Breath of Freedom,” which I happened to include in my Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 2, nearly ten years later. Anyhow, one day I received a letter saying that I had won third place in the competition and was awarded $500. At the time, I had never cried so hard with gratitude. I had desperately needed that cash. I was able to use that money to buy my family Christmas presents that year. It was a true Christmas miracle. I even took my mother and sister down to Princeton to receive my award. I was even in the newspaper for the first time in my life. That period in my life was truly momentous and I will always be grateful to my sister for passing along that opportunity. I also remember showing my father that piece of writing. This was way before his diagnosis with dementia. He was a writer and artist as well and I remember him telling me that my story was corny after he read it. Instead of congratulating his daughter and encouraging her to move forward with writing, I was met with resentment and jealousy. I shook it off and didn’t let that sully this incredible event that happened in my life. This came at a time I needed to regain confidence, regain faith, regain the belief that somehow, someway, everything was going to work out alright for me. I needed this push in the right direction. I went on to finish my masters and work on my doctorate subsequently after and spent several years after that substitute teaching and long-term subbing.

In 2016, I was once again at a difficult crossroads in my life. I was laid off from a really wonderful teaching gig I had acquired. Being done with schooling, and wanting to finally start my life, I, yet again, was ousted from this security net I was provided with and found myself once more lost, uncertain of the future, scared, and most of all poor. I had to do something, and fast. I had been wanting to be a writer for as long as I could remember. When I went to Virginia the first year for my residency hours while working on my doctorate, I came across several amazing individuals. This one person, I will never forget, said something so profound on the last day of our residency that it stayed with me to this day. He said to our professor, “You’ve awoken a passion within me that I never knew I had.” That is what writing provided for me. Writing gave me a voice, which I never had before. Writing gave me a passion, which I was never allowed to have before. Writing became my salvation, my redemption, my hope, my peace, my sanctuary, my escape from all that ailed me. Writing became my therapist, my best friend, my confidante. Writing became my past time, my joy, my anguish, my pain. I spent hours, upon hours writing down everything that had ever hurt me in my entire life–every painful memory that still entraps me to this day. Writing gave me a release, gave me a reason, an excuse to finally let things go. Writing gave me permission to finally be the human being I had always wanted to be. Writing gave me purpose–a reason to get up in the morning. Writing became the one and only thing that no one could take away from me.

Since I’ve started writing in 2016, I’ve released so many pieces through Amazon. For funding, I’ve submitted side pieces to hundreds of organizations, magazines, contests, freelance opportunities, etc. But I had not been able to have a lightning strike for me twice since that day in 2009 when I won my first contest. Ten years later, technology is booming at its highest peak. Social media is swelling with promising new writers who practically step over each other, so desperate to be heard. My work has persistently gone unnoticed for years. I receive rejection more than I hear praise. If it wasn’t for my voice over artist/editor/mentor/newfound friend I’d quit completely. She has become such an advocate for my writing and encourages me to keep going every day.

 

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Writing provides me with so many ups and downs emotionally. There are some days where I feel so triumphant for how successful I was with my writing progress. I can belt out six thousand words in a day no problem and re-read everything and I feel such pride for how much I have grown as a writer over the years. Then there are the setbacks when I receive yet another discouraging rejection letter. I feel trapped sometimes. I feel like time is running out for me. Heavily in debt and fearful for my future, I often wonder how I became this foolish. I often blame myself and punish myself for not being “normal” like everyone else. I hate that I’m different. I hate that I stand out. I hate that my path has always been more difficult than other people. I just want to be like everyone else. But I know I never will be.

It’s been one heck a year for me. I have had to re-teach myself how to be strong and independent and break myself away from that mentality of being someone’s fiance. I hated that at first. I resented it even. I felt like Bella Swan from Twilight during the time she was away from Edward. You live your life and the time passes by around you but you’re not living. You’re barely breathing. You’re barely eating. You have no memory of the months that zoomed past you. You’re just surviving. Surviving was the very least my body was capable of in those lonely winter months. But then the sun comes out one day and its bright triumphant beams hit you smack dab in the eyes in the early morning and you wake up finally transformed and metamorphosed and you think, “Finally.” You finally breathe, eat, smell that fresh air, and feel the magnitude of what you’ve been through. You recall the harsh lessons learned. You become more protected, more guarded, more aware of your surroundings. You trust less, but you’re still you to the outside world, just this more polished version. I am not my mistakes. I am not my past. I am not my failures. I’m more than that. Way more. And with every rejection I receive, I’m only that much more determined to keep trying. To keep improving. To keep writing like I’ve never written before. If you don’t believe in me, who cares, I’ll keep writing until I find someone who will believe in me. I don’t write for you. I write for me. I write to keep going in this crazy world. I write for meaning, for inspiration, for perspective, for peace, for sanity. I write to make others see that triumph really does spawn from tragedy if you just keep going and let that sun reach your face. I will not give up. I will not allow you or anyone else to dampen my spirit any longer. Reject my words but somehow, somewhere, someway, someone will embrace me and I cannot wait for that day and tell you all about it.

PSG Lopes/The Moonlit Goddess’ Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/psglopes