A Big Thanks to the Folks at The Creative Alliance

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled to find a place to fit in — a place free of ridicule, where I can relax and not worry about what others are think about me.
I’ve struggled to find friends that understand me and accept me for who I am. Over the past 27 years, almost 28, I’ve been lucky to find a few people that I’ve been able to call true friends — kindred souls — but distance and circumstance have pulled us in opposite directions, which sucks, but that’s life. Some people are only meant to be in your life for a limited amount of time.
Over the past six months I’ve faced a lot of heartache and uncertainty, and I haven’t had a lot of people to talk to, lean on or encourage me to not give up on the things that I want from life. It’s been lonely and exhausting, and I often wished there was a place that I could go that would offer me a respite that I desperately needed — an escape from the chaos around me.
Things are finally changing, and for once, I don’t feel so alone or like I don’t matter. A friend, thanks to one of her many thought provoking blog posts, made me realize that I’ve been making excuses for why I can’t work on accomplishing my dreams. I was always too busy taking care of the kids, the house, etc. I never forced myself to take time for ME, which was wrong. I deserve attention too!
Shortly after my epiphany, I joined The Creative Alliance, which the above mentioned friend is a part of. TCA was the best thing that could have happened to me at this time. I finally think I’ve found a place where I can find friendship and the support that I need to forge on and chase my dreams down.
The Creative Alliance has given me extra motivation because I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all trying to be successful and accomplish great things with their lives. Their successes make me realize that mine are attainable too, but I have to be willing to work hard and not give up. I need to take time for ME and focus on what I want.
I’ve never been a part of such a diverse group of people. All of the TCA folks are incredibly smart, funny and inspiring. And if you’re one of those folks, THANK YOU! You’ve made this mom realize it’s okay that I to want to chase after my dreams. It doesn’t make me a bad or neglectful mom. It does, however, make me a good role model because I’m teaching my children how to have ambition and fearlessness and that’s something every child should be taught.
I truly hope that TCA is around for a long time and helps other creative types see their dreams come into fruition.

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

Over at The Creative Alliance site, there is a discussion going on about where creativity comes from. Many of us have contributed to the conversation, offering insight into the origins of our own ideas. The sources vary from person-to-person, and it’s always interesting to see what provokes creativity in others.

For me, inspiration comes from all around me. Sometimes an idea will come to me when I’m spending time with my children. In fact, my daughter inspired a series of children’s stories that are based on things she did as a toddler. I’d actually like to see them published one day, but as we all know, that’s easier said than done in these tough economic times when less books are being published.

Another source of inspiration for me is my dreams. There are nights when I go to bed, and I’ll dream about things that are so off the wall and crazy that they inspire short stories that often leave me questioning my own sanity or whether or not I’m receiving ideas from someone else.

I do sometimes feel as though my stories are not my own and that they come from someplace outside of me, like a muse, of sorts. It’s almost as though someone’s channeling ideas into my mind, down through my arms and into my fingertips where I release the idea onto paper or a computer screen. While that may sound a bit kooky to those who don’t write, to those who do, it makes perfect sense, at least for some of us.

I also find inspiration in my own personal teenage experiences. There were aspects of my teenage life that were hard to deal with. I often wondered if I’d make it to adulthood, and as you can see, I did, but not without my share of heartache.

I feel that many of my experiences would inspire younger generations, especially teenagers who are struggling to find themselves and where they fit into this world. So I look inward and find experiences that I’ve had that I could work into a story in some way while delivering a positive message about hope and perseverance.

Some additional ways that I gain inspiration are from observing others and from reading articles from various news outlets. In fact, the first novel I ever wrote was inspired by a murder of a young woman that took place in the town next to mine.

So in closing, my question for all of you is this, where do YOUR ideas come from? Feel free to post them here or you can head over to The Creative Alliance and share with everyone.

"The Lapsing Years"

Since someone posted and asked where “The Lapsing Years” was, I’m sharing it with all of you, but please don’t post it anywhere else unless given permission. Thanks!
The Lapsing Years

A little girl sitting on my lap,
Smiling, giggling and full of laughs.

Since then many years have passed,
Leaving us with many moments of silence that last.

With these years our interests have changed,
Resulting in times when we don’t know quite what to say.

With all the differences in our lives
Many things remain the same.

The love I feel for you grows everyday,
The need of your presence, or your own caring way.

Even though many days it doesn’t show,
I love you, just wanted you to know.

© Robert Normandeau

Dad, you should really consider working on those novels you’ve got tucked away. They are great and don’t deserve to be stuck on a dark shelf, collecting dust.

Where Would I Be Without My Parents?

Tonight, I was sorting through some old writing of mine, and I came across a poem that my dad wrote to me when I was 15, called “Lapsing Years.”
At that time, he and I were constantly at each other’s throats. More often than not, the words we said to each other were laced with anger, and on my part, sometimes hate. Rarely did I say “I love you.” I was so angry at the world and everyone in it, and there were parts of me that wanted to wound him — to make him feel the pain I was feeling and couldn’t express.

Despite all the crap I put my parents through, especially my dad, they loved me, even when they probably shouldn’t have. When I read what my dad wrote to me, I can feel the love hidden within his words — the love that never wavered.

As I sit here tonight, thinking about those turbulent teenage years, I’m more thankful than ever that they never gave up on me. They held me up and kept me going when I didn’t want to — when I wanted to curl up in a ball and let the darkness consume me. Had they not done that, I wouldn’t be here today.

I’m also thankful that my dad gave me the same love that he has for the written word. He’s one of the most talented writers I know, and I hope that I turn out as half as good at him. The one thing I wish is that he would share his writing with others, so they could experience what I already know.

In closing, here’s a special message for my mom and dad:

Mom and dad, if you read this, please know that I am grateful for everything that you have given me since you brought me into this world. You’ve sacrificed so much, and I feel like I’ve given so little in return. I’ve been difficult to deal with, and we don’t always see eye to eye. I know the past couple of years have been especially trying for me, and for you both, as well, but you’ve stuck by me, yet again, and have seen me through the rough times. Thank you and I love you both! ~Nikki

New Blog in the Works

It’s been a bit since I last updated, so I wanted to take a minute before I hit the hay for the night and post an update.

First, I’ve been working on an ending for a short story that I started a couple of months ago. It’s actually based on a dream that I had that scared the daylights out of me. The dream left a lasting impression that I thought I could turn into a really interesting story. So over the past two months I’ve been waiting for some sort of sign on how the story should end. I figured the answer would come to me in time, and it did. Of course, when the correct ending finally came to me, it sent shivers up my spine and kept me up half the night. I suppose that’s a good sign. Hopefully once the story’s finished, it will cause the same reaction in others.

Second, I’m currently editing a short story that I wrote last year. There’s a few parts to it that I would like to expand on, so that’s what I’m doing. I want the story to be just right since it has a strong message behind it.

Third, I’m currently working on a new blog that will hopefully help some of my fellow Maine residents. I plan on putting my writing skills to good use and hopefully change some people’s lives for the better. That’s always been a goal of mine, and I firmly believe that the new blog I’m working on will do just that. I’ve yet to see anything like it pertaining to Maine, so I think it stands a great chance at being successful. Time will tell though.

Well, that’s it for tonight. It’s been a busy day, and my bed is calling my name.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. I know I did. It was beautiful outside, so we spent the day outside with the kids, raking and working on our compost pile. I can’t wait to start planting some grass and flowers.

I know I have not updated since the 27th, and it’s because things are crazy busy around here. There’s never enough time to get everything done. I would seriously clone myself if I could. Imagine how productive I would be then?

As far as my writing goes, I have had some time to work on my current work-in-progress, so I’m happy about that. I also have been brainstorming a new idea that popped into my head the other day. I can’t wait to see if it works out. You can never tell for sure until you begin writing. Hopefully it leads somewhere and not to a dead end.

Other than that, I don’t have much to say. I’ll check back in a few days.


Things to Come

As you can see, I didn’t get a chance to write anything yesterday like I had hoped to. I wasn’t feeling well at all, and I’m still not today. I’m not sure if I have the flu or if it’s my allergies. Either way, I wanted to provide you with some more info on things to come and changes that I’ve recently made in regards to my writing.

As some of you know, I was writing for Examiner.com and was quite successful at it. I was all set to become a National Examiner, but due to a holdup with my background check, I couldn’t.

I found out in November, I believe it was, that my background check never came back. (My info. was submitted in March 2009.) I continually over the subsequent months only to be told my background check was still in limbo. Since I didn’t want to write on a local level anymore due to the changes that were recently made, I decided that it would be best to close my account. It wasn’t an easy decision because I genuinely enjoyed writing for Examiner, but it just wasn’t working out the way I had hoped it would.

So where does that leave me? Well, I have freelance writing positions at Demand Studios and Break Studios. I also ghostwrite for a private client and publish revenue share articles on my own at eHow and Helium. In addition, I write a lot of safety and health-related documents for Take 2 Dough Productions in Sanford, Maine.

While it may seem like my plate is full, I am looking for other writing opportunities that allow me to be creative and express my thoughts. There are topics that I love to write about, like television shows, celebrities, etc., that I would love to write about on a professional level. So I’m going to keep my eyes and ears open and maybe, just maybe, I’ll find a new opportunity.

In the near future, I’d like to start posting interviews with fellow freelance writers and authors who have made it in the writing industry despite all the odds against them. I’d also like to start posting some of my original pieces for all of you to read.

Well, that’s it for today’s update. Have a great remainder to your weekend.

I’m Back

Well, I’m back after a fairly long hiatus. Yay! I’m so excited.

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve let my dreams and passions fall to the wayside for a variety of reasons, with the most important reason being motherhood.

It’s not that I haven’t written at all over the last six months, because I have. But 99% of the writing that I’ve done has been for work. Only 1%, if that, has been on any of my personal projects. That’s really sad. By not taking the time to write for me, I’ve let a part of myself slip away. And what an important part of me that is.

Well, things are going to be different for here on out. From now on, I’m going to make a conscious effort to spend some time each day working on writing projects that mean something to me. I have one work-in-progress that I would love to finish that I started a year and a half ago. So my goal is to have the first draft of it done by my birthday in July. I want to finish it as a birthday present to myself.

I’m also hoping to post at least one blog post per day, updating all of you on how things are going with my writing, both personally and professionally.

Thank you for stopping by and please check back for updates. There’s no stopping me now. My dreams ARE going to come true. I’m going to make sure of that.

– Nikki

P.S. I must admit, it feels nice to jot my thoughts down again.

Life’s Lessons

I’ve learned many things over the past 26, almost, 27 years. I thought it would be nice to share some of what I’ve learned with all of you.

1- No one is entitled to anything in life. If you want something in life, you better be prepared to work hard, and often, to get it. We all are dealt unfair hands in life, but that doesn’t mean we’re entitled to things because of our hardships. Normal people aren’t giving everything on a silver platter. We work hard every day of our lives to make things happen. Don’t think you’re exempt from hard work.

2- You create your own destiny. Yes, I believe parts of our lives are already planned out for us, but I also believe we have free will and are the ones responsible for making things happen. You can’t expect others to make your dreams a reality. Yes, you’ll meet people over the course of your life that may help you, but you have to also help yourself. Nothing comes free.

3- There are genuinely nice people out there who are willing to help you. Not everyone in this world has ulterior motives. Yes, there are people out there that are only concerned for themselves and what they can get from others. They are users. But there are also people out there that want to do good things for others and make a difference. Don’t be so blind and jaded that you can’t see those people. You may miss out on someone who was meant to be in your life.

4- No one is perfect. No one! You may think you are, but you’re not. We all have flaws. None of us are cut from a perfect mold. Those that think they are perfect and have no faults are exhibiting how imperfect they are by their way of thinking.

5- You control how you view life. Negative things happen around us, and to us, all the time. You can choose to let that negative energy impact our lives, or you can choose to be positive in spite of it all. You can choose to see the silver lining in all situations. You are responsible for your personal outlook on life. Don’t place blame on others when you have the ability to change how you see things.

6- Some people are only meant to be in your life for a certain amount of time. At some points in your life, you’ll encounter people that are only meant to be there for a short time. They mean the world to you, but aren’t meant to be a part of your life forever. It’s up to you to discover the reason for that person’s appearance in your life.

7- Forgiveness is not impossible. I’ve dealt with some fairly trying and traumatic experiences in my life. Some of those experiences made it very hard for me to trust people. For a long time, I swore I could never forgive the people that hurt me, but as I grew older I realized that I could. Time did heal my wounds. I will never forget what happened to me, but I can forgive the people that were involved.

8- Life isn’t easy. It’s downright hard. Life isn’t some straight road with no bumps. In fact, life is a road filled with bumps, curves and huge obstacles. If you remain calm and positive, you can make it through to the other side. Sometimes, you may need to take a detour, but in the end, you’ll get to the point where we’re supposed to be at. I’m living proof of that.

9- Life really is more beautiful through the eyes of a child. As a young teenager, I hated my life. I hated all the experiences that I had to deal with. When I gave birth to my daughter, things started to make more sense. Life became beautiful again. I learned how to appreciate everything going on around me and to not take things for granted.

This is just a small list of things that I’ve learned. What are some of your greatest lessons?

eMuse Summer Madness is Here!!!

Good afternoon! The message below is a repost from a fellow eMuse staff-member. We’d love to see you participate in this wonderful and exciting opportunity.

Before eMuse kicked off as a site, our founders ran a small writers group where we took great pride in tossing out writing prompts and then awarding fabulous prizes to the best contributors. We have grown leaps and bounds since then, publishing our quarterly literary arts journal and featuring the most amazing talent we could find on the net. Last summer, we had our first official eMuse contest, the Summer Camp for Writers. eMuse Summer Madness kicks off now, and we’re locking you all up in the nuthouse and prescribing art therapy!

eMuse and author J.C. Hutchins are teaming up to bring you an amazing contest. As many of you know, J.C. is prepping to release his new book: Personal Effects: Dark Art through St. Martin’s Press this June. The novel takes place in an insane asylum, and we thought it would be fun to break out the straitjackets and put together a contest to support the new book.

Since we are a literary arts magazine, we will be accepting submissions in three categories: Art, poetry and fiction. The central focus of all submissions must be an insane asylum, but need not directly relate to Personal Effects: Dark Art. Poetry must be at least 15 lines long. All short stories should be at least 1000-1500 words in length. We may consider longer pieces in cases of exceptional storytelling. Please submit one to two pieces of art, saved as a .jpg files and attached to your email.

I know you’re begging for us to get on to the fabulous prizes, so here it goes… Not only will the winning submission in each category be featured in the September edition of eMuse, the lucky three will also win an autographed copy of Personal Effects: Dark Art. This book is amazing. Not only is it insanely creepy, it’s an interactive game. You can find out more about the novel by visiting the official site: Personal Effects: Dark Art.

You may start sending in your submissions on Sunday, April 19, 2009, and we will accept them through June 6, 2009, at midnight EST. Winners will be announced along side my own personal review of Personal Effects: Dark Art in the June edition of eMuse, which goes live on June 15, 2009. Please title the subject of all emails: eMuse Summer Madness Contest and mail your submissions to: