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And the Flood Gates Have Opened

I know. I know. I haven’t written in a few days, but it’s not because I haven’t been busy. I have been. I have a ton of stuff on my plate right now, and I’m trying to get it all done. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today,  after weeks of arguing with my short story’s main character about the story was headed in, the flood gates opened, and I was hit with a diluge of ideas. They hit me one after another, and I couldn’t type fast enough. It felt like the words were pouring from my fingers like a rushing waterfall. What a great feeling it was. I felt productive and alive.

I think part of the reason I’ve felt blocked and was having such a hard time with the plot was because I wasn’t allowing myself to step out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in the world that I was creating in the story.

Part of me was afraid to open up because this story is the total opposite of Second Chances. Where SC was filled with hope and love, this story is darker, grittier and filled with images that are a bit disturbing, at times.

Now that I’ve allowed the ideas to pour forth, I feel calmer and like I can truly bring this story to life. I knew the potential was there before, but I also knew I needed some kind of breakthrough in order for the story to reach its full potential.

I think, knock on wood, that I’ll have the first draft done by my birthday on July 2nd. After that, I’ll tackle another short story that’s sitting on my desk, begging me to finish it.

But for now, my sole focus is on my current short story. I want to hold that story in my hands and feel the weight of it.  I want to see the end result. Am I scared by how it may turn out. Absolutely, but I’m also filled with anticipation because this story is unlike any other that I’ve written. So here’s to progress. Hopefully tomorrow is as productive as today was.

Working for Home – Is it Right For You?

From here on out, I plan on posting one blog post per week on working from home. I’m not making promises, but that’s my goal, so if you have a question or an idea for a blog post, please feel free to contact me at nicole@nicoleireland.com

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So the question for today is whether or not working from home is the right choice for you.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that working from home is easy because it’s not. There are many factors and questions to take into consideration before you start your work-at-home journey. You don’t want to go into it unprepared. Knowledge is power.

First, are you in need of instant money? The truth is, when you start looking for a job, whether it be as an employee or as an independent contractor, it can take a lot of time and submission of resumes before you hear anything back. I know people that have waited a good six months before landing their first work-at-home job. It’s those long wait times that can discourage a person, but you have to be diligent and keep at it and eventually it will pay off.

If you’re looking for instant money,  you’re going to have a hard time. There are some money-making opportunities online, but you won’t see money from them instantly. They still require some time, so if you do need a steady income right away, you may want to rethink working from home. Or, at the very last, try finding parttime work outside of the house to help compensate.

Second, are you willing to research jobs that are right for you? There are two great work-at-home sites/forums that I have frequented over the years: Work Place Like Home and WAHM.

Of those two, my personal favorite is WPLH because of the wealth of information that can be found there if you’re willing to read through it all and take notes, which I strongly recommend.

There is nothing more irritating to those who have done their research and found jobs on their own than to have a newbie come in and say “I don’t have time to look at all the information, so just tell me what jobs are hiring.” Big no no!

Let me tell you a little secret. We are ALL busy. Many of us are moms and dads that stay home with our children, with some of us even homeschooling. There are some of us who work outside jobs in addition to our work-at-home ones. And some of us have other responsibilities that keep us busy, so don’t come in and say you are too busy. We are too, and we found time, as should you.

On the otherhand, if you do your research and read through the forums, and you still have questions, you won’t find a better group of people willing to help you because we understand what you’re going through. We’ve been there, and we’re proof that hardwork and dedication does pay off in the long run.

Third, do you have self-discipline? If not, you’re going to have a very hard time making a work-at-home job work for you. In most cases, save for a few exceptions, you’ll be an independent contractor, which means you’re your own boss. You are responsibility for keeping yourself motivated and focused. No one else is.

Fourth, are you willing to get up early and work later hours? While working from home affords you more flexibility in terms of scheduling, many of us start work early or end up working very late because we have families to take care of.  But since we can work our hours around our schedules, we’re willing to make those sacrifices when needed.

Now that you’ve had a chance to think about the above, do you still think working from home is right for you? If so, then go get ’em! You can do this. Have faith in yourself and believe in your abilities. Good luck!

Remember, if you have any questions, I’m more than happy to try and answer them, so please drop me an email or leave a comment below.

Updates

Things have been really busy around here, which is a good thing. If I had too much free time on my hands, I’d start to obsess about things in my life that are hard to deal with. Instead, I’ve been putting a lot of time and energy into this new site, my writing, work, my family and helping my friends out in any way that I can.

Thanks to some very special people, I’ve managed to get a lot accomplished, which is a great feeling. I don’t feel like I’m letting life pass me by anymore.

One of the most exciting things to come about in recent weeks is this new site. Had it not been for Acadia and his prodding (i.e. nagging), I wouldn’t have this new site up yet. (Thanks dude!)

Second, I wrote my first guest blog, which you can find over at Paddy’s Wanderings. (You can find Patrick’s guest blog here.)

Third, I will be interviewing Ms. Jennifer Hudock in a few weeks as part of her Dark Journeys Blog Tour. The hard part about this particular interview is that I’m actually going to record it. I’m not real comfortable with the sound of my own voice, so it’ll be trainwreck, but Jenny’s a good sport, so I’m sure her and I will have a good laugh over it afterwards.

Fourth, several weeks ago I did a written interview with Dream Wanderers author Paula Brown, which I feel turned out great. She offered some great insight and advice into writing, following your dreams and more.

Fifth, I’ve posted a few pieces of poetry that mean a lot to me and reflect things I’m going through in my own life that I hope others can relate to in some way. (And from what I’ve heard, I’ve succeeded, which is always my goal.)

Well, that’s it for now, but I’m sure I’ll have another update soon, so can an eye out.

Guest Bloggers Are Coming — Keep an Eye Out!

During one of our chats at The Creative Alliance, one of our members mentioned guest blogging on each other’s sites, which is a great idea because it exposes our readers to new voices.

So the other night I sat down and brainstormed topics to write about with fellow TCA member Patrick. We came up with a pretty cool topic, so we’re excited to share each other’s posts with all of you.

If you are interested in guest blogging, you can reach me at nicole@nicoleireland.com.

Funny Stories About My Kids

Whenever I sit down to write a blog post, I try desperately to find something really funny to say, but who the hell am I kidding? I’m not some comedic genius filled with profound insight and an ability to make everyone laugh. It’s just not me, and I’ve come to accept that. Don’t get me wrong, if any of you have some magical dust that you could sprinkle on me that would make everyone laugh at my jokes, great. Let me know.

Now my kids, on the other hand, are a completely different story. They’re incredibly funny, and I’m not just saying that because they’re my kids. They seriously are. My dad’s wittiness skipped me and was passed onto them.

So today, I’m going to regal you with a couple of stories about these two because, well, I can. I’m their momma and extremely proud of them, so if you don’t like reading stories about kids, GO AWAY!

The first stories I’m going to share with you are about my 8-year-old daughter. I love her to pieces, but she is seriously the most warped child I have ever met. I don’t mean that she walks around looking for mice or whatever to roast on a spicket. I mean, she finds things funny at her age that most adults don’t find amusing. Just ask my mom.

Ms. Thing also has the knack for cracking jokes that leave the rest of us looking at her, wondering where the hell it came from. We then, usually, start laughing to the point we have tears in our eyes and the need to pee.

So sit back and enjoy!

Story number 1: Just a couple of weeks ago, my mom, dad, Mini Me and I all went to New Hampshire to visit my brother and his boy toy. So we decided we’d go to the park not too far from the mall. As we driving through Dover Point to get there, we passed a cemetery, which inspired my daughter to say, “Oh look, a dead zone.”

The truck got real quiet while we stared at her and then we just started laughing. She looked at us, all straight faced and said, “What did I say?”

Now that may sound like a really corny joke to all of you, but you have to remember, she’s only eight, and the timing was perfect.

Story number 2: About a year and a half after my son’s birth my daughter came up to me and asked if we could return her brother to CVS. (At the time I was standing in my mom’s kitchen chatting with her about nothing.) My mom and I just looked at each other, trying to figure out where the conversation was headed because, when it comes to my daughter, there’s just no telling.

I finally asked my daughter, “Why do you want to return your brother to CVS?”

And I will NEVER forget her response or her logic. “Since that’s the place that you bought the white stick to pee on so you could get pregnant, that’s where he came from. So we should be able to return him.”

I was stunned. I’ve always been amazed by the way a child’s mind works. The way they connect ideas is amazing to me, so the fact that she thought I got pregnant from a pregnancy test from CVS cracks me up.

Of course, I returned with, “Well, we could try. But I think that return policy expired 30 days after he was born.”

The last two stories are much shorter and have to do with my son.

Story number 3: Over the past six months, my son’s vocabulary has flourished, and I’m a bit ashamed to say that some of his new words aren’t appropriate.

I have a horrible potty mouth when I drop or spill things. Usually “son of a bitch” comes out. Well, Mr. Smarty Pants figured out quite easily how to say it, so one day, he accidentally spilled some juice or milk on the kitchen floor. He looked at it and said “Oh, son of a bitch.”

I tried really hard not to laugh, but the look on his face after he said it was priceless, so I, of course, couldn’t control my laughter.

From that day on, I’ve really had to watch what I say around him because he has no problem with swear words.

Story number 4: I, like a lot of moms these days, attempted to breast feed my son. Long story short, I made it about two weeks before the doctor’s said to me it was best if I stopped because I wasn’t producing enough milk to feed the little monster. Ever since then, though, he’s been a bit obsessed with my chest, which according to other mom’s that I’ve talked to is pretty normal.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the floor, playing with his trains with him. He looked at me, patted me on the boob and said, “Lake likes yo boobs.” (Lake is how he refers to himself since his first name is Blake.)

When he said that, I could not stop laughing. So I guess that’s a good sign that he’s going to be a boob man when he’s older.

My Red Sharpie is My Best Friend

Over the past few days, I’ve become really close with my red sharpie. We worked together and attacked my short story in an attempt to make it perfect. While I’m still not sure that it’s as good as it can be, I do think it’s one step closer. Or maybe I’m being too hard on myself. It wouldn’t be the first time.

The hardest part about editing this particular story is having to deal with these emotions it evokes in me. There were times over the past couple days that I balled my eyes out as I read what I wrote. It’s common practice for me to read the dialogue out loud, almost as though I’m acting it out, to see if it’s believable. I figure if I end up crying, laughing or whatever, then I’m doing something right.

On a good note, a friend of mine told me that as soon as I publish this story, she will buy it, which was nice to hear. I can’t wait to see how others respond to it.

To be honest, though, I’m scared because most of my friends are writers of fantasy and/or horror, and while I’m huge fan of those kinds of stories, my own is nothing like theirs, so I’m worried that it’ll pale in comparison, even though it comes from my heart and is filled with little pieces of me. So I’m crossing my fingers that the story finds a home in other people’s hearts and gives them hope and let’s them know they aren’t alone.

Only Us

I wrote this poem about five years ago. Shortly afterwards, I put it together with pictures of my daughter.

As you can see, I’m sure, there are TONS of errors. There are definitely parts that should be rewritten. However, since it’s Mother’s Day, I’d thought I’d share it with all of you. It reflects the relationship I have with my Mini Me.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even take the time today and rework “Only Us.”

A New Dark Journeys Tale From Ms. Hudock

This week my good friend Ms. Jennifer Hudock released another Dark Journeys short story. The newest installment, entitled Ahoy, Matey, is a perfect read for those who were once tormented during their high school years. (Like moi!)

Ms. Hudock was kind of enough to post the following excerpt on her official site:

Ahoy, Matey!

“It’s that damn reunion,” Todd said. “It’s all you’ve been able to think about for the last week.”

Sondra’s mind ebbed against the blank shore of memory. Had she been preoccupied about the reunion? She supposed she was a little. She hadn’t seen a single person she went to school with since graduation day. After high school she went to college in upstate New York. There she met Todd. They’d gotten married and settled in Buffalo, and she hadn’t gone back to that godforsaken Pennsylvania town since.

She was looking forward to showing them that she’d become something far greater than anyone ever expected, and she was no thing to be teased or tormented.

“Have I really been that bad?” she asked.

Todd squeezed her shoulder and shook his head, “Nah. I just don’t understand why you’re letting yourself get so stressed out over this whole thing. They’re just people, and I’m sure most of them are fatter than they should be, half-bald and not near as interesting as you once thought them.”

“I guess,” she shrugged. “I just really want to walk into that thing and wow them, you know? Show them that there is more to me than meets the eye.”

He leaned down and kissed her cheek, “Then be yourself.”

She leaked air through her teeth like a flattening bicycle tire and pressed her back against the sturdy frame of the chair. “I suppose,” she said, but she didn’t mention anything about the longing for revenge that continuously cropped up in her mind.

God how she hated them, every last one of them.

She shouldn’t even go to the damn reunion, she hated them all that much, but it was the drive to show them she was better than them now, that she had married well and her husband loved her just the way she was. She wanted to see, like Todd had suggested, how pathetic and uninteresting they all were now, and the worst part was that a part of her was so angry with herself for being petty about it all.

She wasn’t fifteen anymore, and the Pirate’s Treasure label hadn’t described her for more than a decade. She was Sondra McCabe: hip librarian, loving wife and she had a beautiful body thanks to plastic surgery.

But still… she wanted to crush them all. Smash their heads against the concrete and tear their brains…

Sondra shook off the hideous imagery of her own mind and pressed her back into her husband.

“I really wish you could come along,” she told him.

“Me too, Babe,” Todd squeezed her shoulder once before patting it with his hand and stepping away from the chair.

“I mean, it really makes it difficult for me to show off my stunning sex god of a husband without him by my side.”

“I tried to get someone to cover for me, but Dalton wasn’t having it. I’m his star man,” Todd’s curls rustled when he shook his head. “The only one who can get the job done.”

Sondra imagined tearing that self-righteous windbag Dobbins’s head clean from his shoulders and cracking it open on the sidewalk like a ripe summer melon filled with warm, oozing brains. As soon as she caught herself thinking about it, she stifled her gag reflex, and pinched her lips tight together.

“Why must you always be so goddamned reliable?” she distracted herself with the jest, elbowing the top of his thigh, which still rested behind her. “I suppose I’ll go it alone.”

“You’ll dazzle them, I swear it.”

She’d rather destroy them, she thought.Tear them all limb from limb with gnashing teeth. In her imagination she was a rabid animal, some wild, lycanthropic beast, only there was no full moon, and she felt wholly driven to devour their brains. Maybe she ought to just stay home, she thought. Maybe no one would even notice that she hadn’t shown up.

“I wish I felt as certain as you did.”

“Be the confident and beautiful girl I know you are,” Todd said, “and they will all fall hopelessly in love with you.”

Sondra bit her tongue to keep from admitting that she had no desire for them to fall in love with her. Or maybe she did. Maybe she wanted more than anything to be the center of their attention the same way she was in high school, only instead of the object of their mutual disdain, she would be the object of their desire. She wanted them to want her, to swallow hard against their disbelief when she walked into the room, but more than anything, she wanted to destroy them all.

Todd kissed her on the cheek before he slid out of the room to start dinner, and Sondra felt momentarily reassured by his comment and her own inner-dialogue.

She’d gone hundreds of places without him since they’d been married, made dozens of friends and acquaintances over the years. She was stronger and more confident than she had ever been as a teenager, so what did she have to worry about?

Sondra’s eyes scanned the reflection in the mirror, her own reflection. Her eyes flittered across the pronounced rigidity of her collarbone in contrast to the soft, firm mounds of flesh that hovered atop her chest. The bruise was still there, still hideous in its coloration, and a broken vein had veered off from it and crawled the length of her milky white shoulder. It was darker, almost black beneath the skin. Both disgusted and fascinated by it, Sondra wondered if something ruptured inside her, maybe one of her implants was leaking.

No. Denial leaped quick in response, as though something beyond her own mind triggered the impulse. It placated, rather than disturbed her.

“It’s just a vein,” she traced her finger along the river of it, toward her shoulder and into the loose tendrils of her hair. “Nothing to get excited about.”

Besides, no one would see it anyway. It wasn’t like she was planning on flashing the whole entire graduating class of 1997.

If you would like to read Ahoy, Matey in its entirety, you can purchase a copy through Smashwords or Amazon for less than a dollar. So head on over and get your copy now!

An Interview with "Dream Wanderers" Author, Paula Brown, Part 3

Thank you all for stopping by again today to read the final installment in the Paula Brown interview. If you haven’t read Part 1 or 2 yet, please make sure to do so. 

Q: What are your goals? What would you like to accomplish next? 

A: I want and need to finish my sequel. The story is done, I just need to find the time for one more look through it. I will probably have one more book in that series and there is another series that has been bugging me for a long time that I just haven’t done anything with. 

Q: What advice do you have for other writers?

A: Write for yourself. Don’t do it for others and don’t do it expecting to become the next famous author, because it won’t happen. If you write for yourself then you just may end up with something that you are proud of, like I did. 

Q: How do you feel about content mills? 

A: They have their place, I guess. I do work for them because it gives me a chance to write and get paid for it. What I don’t like about the content mills is that readers will assume that the author is an expert, which most of the time they aren’t. I wrote one “How To” type of article a while ago that I STILL have no idea of what I was talking about. I also wish that some of them had higher standards as far as grammar is concerned. 

Q: Are there any you’d recommend over others? 

A: I love Word Gigs! They treat their writers with respect and really listen to us. I have also have a love/hate relationship with Demand Studios. When things are going well with them they are fantastic but in my opinion they don’t have a good enough communication system set up.

Q: How you do you balance your writing with being a mom and wife?

A: I gave up sleep. Okay, kidding aside, I try to get a couple of hours of writing done in the morning when I have some time to myself. I also will work a couple of hours in the evening. The rest of the day I just try to grab a few minutes to write here and there.

One of the most important parts of my day is the daily walk that my daughter and I go on. We walk about five miles every day, rain or shine, no excuses. We have been in several 5, 8 and, 10K races, and we even did a half marathon. It’s become an important part of our lives and it’s been a real bonding experience. 

Q: Do you find it hard to fit in time to write? 

A: The hard part for me isn’t finding the time, it’s forcing myself to write when I have the time. It’s just too easy to make excuses.

Q: Do you feel a mother should be able to follow her dreams? And if yes, how should they go about balancing it all?

A: That’s a very interesting question because becoming a mother always was my biggest dream. The moment that my daughter was born I felt like a missing piece of me was suddenly there. Past that, though, following a dream is important and mothers should do it. It should just never be at the expense of her family. (The same goes for dads.)


I guess that the best way to balance it all is to schedule and to share responsibilities. A wife and mother does not have to do EVERYTHING, even though many of us feel like it is all up to us. Wives and mothers need to learn to delegate some of their responsibilities. The kids can help out, and Dad can too. If the dream is something that can be accomplished with the family then she should definitely go for it. If the dream is at the expense of the family, then that’s a different story. 


* Thank you all, again, for taking the time to read this 3-part interview. (Hopefully I’ll be able to post more like this in the future. If you’re interested in doing an interview, please feel free to contact me.) I also want to thank Paula for making this possible.

An Interview with "Dream Wanderers" Author, Paula Brown, Part 2

Here you go folks! This is the 2nd part to the Paula Brown interview. Part 1 was posted last night. 
Q: What successes have you had since? 
A: I’ve co-written a series of books on Walt Disney World. As I already mentioned, I have a novel called “Dream Wanderers”. The sequel is getting closer to completion. And I have written probably thousands of Internet articles for varies companies.
Q: Who would you say influenced your writing? Who do you look up to?

A: I have two major influences. My first one is A.A. Milne. I have loved Winnie the Pooh my entire life and some of my best childhood memories are sitting in my father’s lap and reading the books together.
My other major influence is my sister, Nancy Holzner. Nancy is a serious writer and makes a living full time at it, as does her husband. She has written several computer books under the name Nancy Conner, and she has had two novels recently published with well respected publishers. She has encouraged me and helped me out every step of the way. I never would have done any of this without her.
As far as looking up to someone it would be my parents, who always put their kids and grandchildren first (they still do), and my late grandparents…simple the most incredible people that I ever knew. 
Q: How did you find your publisher?

A: This is kind of a strange story. I am a huge fan of Walt Disney World and am a member of some fan sites. One day I received an email that there was a publisher who was looking for people to write reviews on various rides for a series of books on the parks. I wrote to him and asked if he needed someone to write about Star Tours. The next thing I knew I was writing ride reviews left and right, enough that I got my name on the covers of the books.
In talking with the publisher I mentioned that I had written a novel, and he asked if he could take a look at it. The next thing I knew he wanted to publish it. It’s a very small company, but he really believes in me and that has made a huge difference in my confidence level.
 Q: What part of the publishing process was the hardest?

Since it is a small company I was responsible for getting the manuscript print ready, and I kept having all these blank pages! That was hard for me to figure out; computers confuse me. The other part is the promotion of it. I’m not very good at self promotion, and it is really hard to get the name of a new book out there.
 
Q: Is there anything you would do differently in regards to getting published?


A: I don’t think so. I would rather have a small publisher that likes me than a large one who always tells me everything that I do is wrong.
 
Q: How do you get over submission nerves? How do you handle rejections? Any advice?

A: Since I didn’t exactly find my publisher by the normal route, I didn’t really have to deal with rejections there. Before I found him I was looking for an agent and ran across someone who was rather cold. I took a deep breath and just kept looking. The trick, I think, is to not take it personally, which is next to impossible because writers put a little bit of their soul into their work. 
*Please check back tomorrow for the final installment where Paula discusses future goals, writing for content mills and following your dreams.