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Welcome to 2017! Now what?

January 2, 2017

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ~ Alan Watts

Welcome to 2017!

If you believe the consensus of those on social media, good riddance to 2016 and here’s to a new and different 2017.

But how will it be different?

As we have quoted, many times, an age-old adage…there are things you can control and those you can’t. A secret to life is to control those within your control and let go of those you can’t.

So while a lot of the bad in 2016 was outside of our control, I believe some of our wishing away of the year deals with the external, uncontrollable, sucking the life energy from us such that we couldn’t effectively move forward with the things we could control.

Now, a new year….

So what is it you’d like to do this year? I’m not a big believer in resolutions, as least in how they normally operate but I’m a huge believer in goal setting. I sit down each year and make goals in different areas of life. Now remember, I’m a coach and I’m not telling you what you should do. I’m just telling you what I do and might take some ideas and find the ways that work best for you. Here is the way I do it.

Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time.” So, let’s aim for something. Some areas I want to accomplish things in this year are – family/home/relationships, spirituality and growth, writing, photography, health and fitness, professional development. It’s likely some of my list might overlap with yours but then again, that’s not important.

For my next few posts I’m going to take you, a step at a time, in setting a goal and then putting a plan into place.

For today’s homework, name one or more areas in which you’d like to accomplish things this year. If you are an experienced planner and goal setter, I’d recommend naming up to six and, as I did above, you can combine some with similar objectives.

However, if the idea of goal setting gives you the heebie-jeebies, then just name one. Find one area of your life you’d like to get something done for 2017.

Remember…we’re not setting the goal today. We’re just identifying the area(s) of your life for which you’d like to get something accomplished, okay? Make it fun. Make it easy on yourself. If you’re a little intimidated, start small. You can always add more later.

Okay, Happy Monday, all. We’re going to make this year better by working in the areas over which we have control. We’re going to get some important things done. And you get to decide what those important things are.

Namaste, y’all,
Terry

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I Am a Writer

April 3, 2013

If you ask, I will tell you that I am a writer. Intellectually, I know that I am. I am comfortable saying it now, embracing it. I am a writer. That is part of my essence.

What about from a practical standpoint?

I am learning much from my faith that resonates throughout the rest of my life. Imagine that.

In my faith, I have discovered the necessity to “die” to oneself on a daily basis, maybe even an hourly basis. Some days a minute by minute basis. I must turn away from that which constrains me, that which binds me to this temporal existence in order to transcend, to elevate, to fly.

I am discovering that this applies to my creativity as well. I can call myself a Christian but what am I doing this morning other than claiming a name? I can call myself a writer but what am I doing right now that earns that distinction?

I wake up with my mind full of ideas and thoughts wanting to be expressed, needing to be committed to a more permanent form. But I also wake up knowing my responsibilities, the “what must be dones,” that escort me from my bed, through my day, back to my bed, and, on occasion, wake me here and there throughout my nights, to remind me of my failures and to point out the futility of my attempts.

If left to their own devices, they will lull me with promises that I can do better if I just give them more time. If I just make more checklists. If I just…

There is an exquisite balance that must be reached for things must be done. People must be cared for. Houses and lawns must be kept up and maintained. Dogs must be fed and groomed. Babies must be held.

But the Responsibilities are never ending and are ever unyielding. When the fact is grasped that one could literally work on Responsibilities from sun up to midnight, seven days a week, and never finish, that “things” shall always be left undone or worse, continue to “undo” themselves even as you work, one begins to understand the need for this balance.

And so, at least for this day, I have decided to die to myself, to the pride that says I can do it all, that if it were not for me, my little part of the world could not function. I am deciding for this minute on this day to stretch to find the balance that gives me room to breathe, to transcend, to create. I shall take counsel from the Responsibilities and make my decisions rather than being governed by them.

This is my commitment for this day. This is how I shall be a more spiritual person for the next few hours. This is how I will claim my life as a writer on this Wednesday.

And tomorrow I shall be required to do it again. And the next day. And if on succession of my remaining days I am successful, I shall have had a most wonderful life.

Guest Post: Charlotte Rains Dixon, author of Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior

February 18, 2013

Terry’s note – I am very excited to be hosting a guest blog post by my good friend and colleague, Charlotte Rains Dixon. I have known Charlotte for a decade now as a mentor, a fellow Spalding MFA in Writing alum, a Co-Program Director of The Writer’s Loft at Middle Tennessee State University, an author, a co-writer for literary magazine 2nd & Church, and most importantly, a friend. She and I both are currently mentors in The Writer’s Loft creative writing program and are planning literary events for 2013 and 2014 for the middle Tennessee area. She writes an essential newsletter for creatives that you can sign up for at her website www.charlotterainsdixon.com and regularly conducts workshops, retreats and virtual classes.

Her latest novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior is being released this month and I couldn’t be happier for her. So without further ado…Here’s Charlotte!

Finding My Own True North

By Charlotte Rains Dixon (www.charlotterainsdixon.com)

One of the things I love about Terry’s site is his tag line: finding true north.  To me, this conjures up a romantic image of celestial navigation—standing on the deck of a ship at night, looking up at millions of sparkling stars.   While I’ve been a writer for years, it took me a while to navigate through the stars to find my own current true north of novelist, blogger and teacher.

I’ve wanted to be a novelist since I was a child, but once I grew up, something in my subconscious decided this wasn’t a serious enough goal.  I mean, entertaining people as my life’s work?  Come on.  And yet, writing seemed to be the only thing I could commit to over the long haul, so I turned to more “serious” writing and pursued free-lance journalism.

Later, as my career morphed, I took up ghostwriting for business people, and out of that a natural outgrowth was coaching those who couldn’t afford the ghost writing.   This was good—I was writing, and making a modest living at it.  But I was confused.  I’d earned my MFA in creative writing and rose early nearly every morning to work on a novel.  Plus, I wrote a blog about creative writing.  And taught it at a Tennessee university.

Which was the real me?  Which arena should I focus on?  Should I go for love (creative writing) or money (working with business people)?  I felt like I was sailing for two different worlds, without a star in sight to guide me.   I decided (not all that consciously) that helping business people was what I should do—it was more practical and more lucrative to boot.  And so I signed up for a program that would show me how to do this at a higher level, reaching more people and making lots more money.

And I was immediately miserable.  The thing that made me happiest was that hour in the morning, when I rose early to work on editing my novel.   I was even starting to submit it to agents and publishers.  And I still spent a lot of time on my blog, where I attempted to write about creative writing and writing for business. During the day, I’d go back to my “official” self, striving to be a ghostwriter and coach to small business people.

Here’s the funny thing—I wasn’t very successful at helping business people.  The promised riches and clients didn’t appear.  And one day I sat down and looked hard at what I was doing.   It hit me—I didn’t have to be all things to all people!  I could just be me.  If only I could figure out what me really wanted.

The answer came immediately, as it always does when we slow down enough to listen.  Me wanted to be a novelist, and a blogger, and to help creative writers, not business people.

And so I switched focus back to my own true north, with my inner critic screaming all the way that I’d be broke and never get my novel published.  But I’m happy to report that, though the ride has had a few bumps, it is all working out.  Vagabondage Press published my novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, on February 12th, and now I can call myself exactly what my heart desires—a novelist, blogger and teacher.

So pay heed to Terry’s call to find your true north, because it will guide you exactly where you need to go.

The Next Big Thing: Not Exactly According to Plan by Cindy L. Corpier

January 28, 2013

Note from Terry:  I am honored to host another talented writer’s responses to The Next Big Thing. I met Cindy Corpier in Paris last summer during the Spalding MFA in Writing summer study abroad program. She is funny, fascinating, intelligent, and talented and I am proud to call her a friend and colleague. I’m no doctor nor do I play one on television but I’m willing to bet that “Not Exactly According to Plan” will be the perfect prescription to those searching for a good read. And now, here’s Cindy!

What is the working title of your book?

Not Exactly According to Plan

 Where did the idea come from for the book? 

From my experience training as a physician in the 1980’s at the Texas Medical Center in Houston and from my life in medicine since.  Also from reading a book known to almost all doctors called The House of God.  This novel was published in 1978 and is still in print.  As funny and heartbreaking and true as the novel is, it was written from a male physician’s perspective.  I wanted to write about the experience from a women’s point of view—from the trauma of watching patients die, to the salvation of friendship, to the numbing exhaustion that gives rise to bad romantic decisions and ultimately, to inner strength and the grace of forgiveness.

 What genre does your book fall under?

Mainstream fiction or Women’s fiction

 What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

The main character, Courtney Doucet is confident on the outside and constantly second-guessing on the inside.  I like to think Ellen Page or Emma Stone could pull her off beautifully.  Wyatt, her main romantic interest, is handsome and privileged, maybe Ryan Gosling.  Carter Murdock, the dangerous older man, could be Clive Owen or (why not?) George Clooney.

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A young doctor is seeing her professional and romantic dreams come true when she makes a series of choices that sabotage both and she must face losing everything.

 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will seek representation this year.

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About nine months for the first draft.

 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Both Emily Giffin and Anna Quindlen have written books with complex female heroines navigating the demands of career and love.

 Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

I graduated from medical school at the age of twenty-three with the boundless confidence of the truly naïve and took on the awesome responsibility of caring for sick people long before I was fully mature.  This story is part-insider view of the world of medicine, part-tribute to the patients I’ve known, and part-love letter to my younger self.

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Not Exactly According to Plan will be attractive to book lovers who want an insider view of medicine and are forced to watch House or reruns of Scrubs and E.R. to get their fix.

The Next Big Thing: Three Ways to Disappear by Katy Yocom

January 21, 2013

Note from Terry:  It is my honor and good fortune to host the wonderful Katy Yocom’s responses to The Next Big Thing. She is amazingly talented in so many ways but she is a gifted writer and storyteller. I have been privileged to know about her novel for some time now and I’ve followed it’s progress from first draft through the current agent representation. I’m so excited to look forward to seeing it in print and and am proud that you can learn more about Katy and her work on my blog. Katy…take it away!

Huge thanks to the kind and talented fiction writer Terry Price for inviting me to participate in The Next Big Thing. Not only is Terry a wonderful friend, he was also kind enough to host my answers on his blog. So if you’re here, you probably already know what a prince of a guy he is.

Without further ado…

What is your working title of your book?

Three Ways to Disappear. It’s a reference to the three siblings at the heart of the book—Sarah, her twin brother Marcus, and their older sister, Quinn—American children who were raised in India by their parents. Marcus’s sudden death at age seven is one disappearance, a loss that informs his sisters’ lives forever. The other two “ways to disappear” can be taken to reference the ways Sarah and Quinn each cope, as adults, with the legacy of the tragedy. But disappearance is also a theme because tigers—a species on the verge of extinction—play a central role in the story.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It began with tigers. A few years ago, a tigress at our zoo had a litter of cubs. From the moment I learned of their existence, I was obsessed. I visited the cubs weekly—soaked them up the way you’d soak up a painting at a museum. I always thought of my tiger obsession as something slightly embarrassing. At the same time, I was hungering to write a novel, but my brain kept telling me, “Katy, you can’t write a novel about tigers” … until one day a friend told me: “You know, actually, you can.” Two days later, I was on my deck, planting impatiens, and the first line of the novel whispered itself to me. And then the second line. I set down my gardening spade and raced inside to my computer. An hour later, I had a beginning and a good idea of the arc of the entire novel.

It’s a story of family, love, and loss. But tigers, both real and metaphorical, do figure prominently in the story. Tigers are fierce predators, but as a species they are critically endangered. Their wildness and vulnerability echoes that of my characters, particularly of Sarah, my protagonist.

What genre does your book fall under?

I like to think it will be considered literary fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Sarah, the protagonist, is impulsive, fearless, large-hearted, and determined. A little reckless sometimes. Up to now, she has traveled the world as an itinerant journalist in war zones. Now, she’s back in India to work in a tiger conservation organization. Jessica Chastain has Sarah’s strength, ferocity and vulnerability.

Quinn, Sarah’s sister, has a stable home and family in America. She struggles with fear that the tragedy might repeat itself in her children’s generation. Naomi Watts would play her well.

Ursula is British and very, very crusty. I’d love to see Helen Mirren in her role.

William is an aging Brit with a certain sadness and loneliness about him. William Hurt could capture his melancholy.

For Sanjay, I’d cast Naveen Andrews. Sanjay is a man cut off by fate from love and children. It’s a role that requires longing and intensity, and Andrews amply demonstrated that smoldering quality as Sayid on Lost. Plus, he’s gorgeous, and what can I say? I’d like Sanjay to be gorgeous.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After a nomadic existence constantly embracing risk, American journalist Sarah DeVaughan returns to the country of her childhood—a place of unspeakable family tragedy—to preserve the Bengal tigers of India, while her sister Quinn, also deeply scarred by the past and herself a keeper of secrets, looks to forge a new connection with her sibling by casting aside her fears that India will also be Sarah’s undoing; in the end, the gifts India bestows and the price it exacts leave the sisters’ lives changed forever.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have the incredible good fortune to be represented by Lisa Gallagher of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates literary agency. The novel is currently on submission.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About a year and a half. After I had the initial idea, I quickly realized there was no way I could write this story without traveling to India. I spent three weeks there visiting tiger preserves. It was a stunning experience—I never imagined I’d be lucky enough to see tigers living in the wild in some of the most beautiful spots on earth. The trip still seems like a dream to me—even more so, the fact that it was funded by grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. I can’t begin to express my gratitude to these organizations, which do so much to bring art into the world.

After traveling to India, it took me months to process everything I’d seen and experienced, including a number of close-up tiger sightings. Success in the form of a completed draft finally came at a writing residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City, Nebraska—another organization to which I owe a huge debt of gratitude.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

When I tell people my book involves tigers, people inevitably reference Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, though the stories are very different.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The tiger cubs at the zoo get direct credit! As for the family tragedy, Sarah’s life as an itinerant journalist, the events that unfold in India—I’m not sure. Inspiration is a mysterious thing.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A forbidden love affair, a suggestion of magical realism, a collective of village women lifting themselves out of poverty. Characters torn from their families who make unorthodox new families of their own. A family of Bengal tigers struggling to survive. And then India itself—the sights, the smells, the sounds, the amazing people. A lot has been written about the India of cities and slums. The India I write about is rural India, where villagers compete with endangered tigers for food and water. I loved the people I met there, and I hope that shows in the book.

Next up for the Next Big Thing:

Cindy Corpier – find her on Facebook!

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