Nothing Lost: Live your Dream

Nothing Lost: Live your Dream

Here we are near the end of another year as 2015 awaits us. This is the time we begin to reflect on our accomplishments over the past 12 months—we either look back in wonderment at how far we’ve come, or with dismay over things not yet accomplished. The things left undone often bother us the most. Regret. It’s an evil thing. It’s big and impactful and has absolutely no benefits. And yet many of us spend much time living in that very realm.


Years back when the economy took a dive I was out of work for a very long time. As a journalist I struggled and scrambled trying to find work in my profession to no avail. And then a dear friend of mind suggested I come and work at the hotel where she working as a night auditor. It wasn’t the job for me; it was a midnight shift, the pay wasn’t great and I’d be dealing with the public. I didn’t want to deal with the public. It felt like God just didn’t like me anymore. But I did it anyway because a slim paycheck beats no paycheck any day. I work there four years. It was there I begin to sincerely write fiction. I begin with some short stories then a novel that I finished but didn’t quite flush out. Often the nights were solidly quiet and my thoughts would flow freely.

I wrote a second novel. Night after night, page after page I wrote. And yet, it seemed I’d never get a real job. God really didn’t like me. But several years later that novel was published. It was then I realized that those four years dealing with complaining guests, working weekends and holidays, sleeping during the day so that I could be awake and perky at night, I was able to accomplish much on the backend of my dream. I was there in the solitude of the night that I put in the work, honed the craft and figured it out. I was there in long stretches of quiet that ideas flowed. It was during those four years that I learned how to deal with people (a necessary skill at some point in every writer’s life). Before that job I had not been focused on writing. I wrote when I could carve out some time and that was practically never.  But there at the desk, 4:00 am, every morning without fail, I wrote. It was a good friend who helped me to realize that those years had not been wasted. Nothing had been lost.

Every time I wanted to look back on those days and feel sorry for myself I remembered that God’s will and timing is purposeful and perfect.  He doesn’t piddle or mismanage time; he doesn’t get off course or sidetracked. Nothing lost.

Those times in our lives when it feels as if nothing is happening may be the very crux of our destiny. The next time you feel like time has been wasted or you’ve lost ground I encourage you to ask yourself, what was the lesson in this? What was accomplished? Often time accomplishments are internal changes—a shift in the way we think or feel about a matter. Sometimes internally we are developing the groundwork for something bigger. Therefore it is not time wasted, but time well spent.


Why true stories don’t always make for good fiction

Why true stories don’t always make for good fiction

fiction-has-to-make-sense-mark-twain-picture-quoteIf I had a dime for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I could write a book about my life,” I could stop using the cliché, ‘If I had a dime.’ I must confess; whenever I hear someone dishing the intimate details of their life I am always looking for a story in it…because…hey…you just never know.
But the truth is real life stories don’t always make for the best fiction. I think of the infamous James Frey. You remember the guy who wrote A Million Little Pieces, a candid memoir which we later found out was not so much true as it was fiction, hence no longer true by any account. Oprah called him on it because it was one of her book club picks and it went on to become a New York Times best seller because of this. Yet no one could deny that the story was well written. (O.K. as it turns out some thought it read as something contrived.) A few million were moved by the story. The point is, arguably Frey needed to use creative license (make up stuff) to make the story sound, tightly woven and plotted, like well written fiction. As a true story, I’m willing to believe the story would have been lacking…something. And Frey obviously agreed, hence his reason for making up most of it. Here are a few reasons why fiction and true stories can’t always marry.


Fiction is a fabricated truth
It is true that fiction contains elements of truth. We take real life events and then we create a story. We build on that story from bits of our imagination, mingled with what we know and what we want to happen; we completely change the ending, maybe, or the location; we change the protagonist from male to female, from White to Black because, as fiction writer Alyce Miller says, “Fiction…is a method of transforming, not simply transcribing, life.” These liberties are like candy for a fiction writer. We have the privilege to create. Fiction is truth–fabricated.
The truth doesn’t always pan out into a sound story
The other day my brother was over and telling this joke which had him doubled over and I’m thinking, pull it together man and tell the joke we all want to laugh. Finally, he straightened up and told it between fits of laughter. We are all sitting there waiting for the funny part to sink in. Nothing. It was one of those workplace type jokes that just didn’t transfer to the general public. I’m sure if he would’ve told it to one of his coworkers they both would have been on the floor. Sometimes, with true stories, especially incidents which are personal and intimate the emotional attachment is so intense we somehow feel that those feeling will automatically transfer in our writing. But if the characters aren’t fully developed, or the plot is weak or full of holes, we won’t connect with the story. We don’t continue to read about stuff or people we don’t care about. Just because you care about them in real life doesn’t mean your reader will, unless given a reason.
No, seriously this is a true story
The saying that truth is stranger than fiction is absolutely true. But that doesn’t mean that it is good enough for fiction. I know, how ironic is that? But have you ever heard a story that was so absurd you absolutely didn’t believe it until the storyteller showed you proof? Well, real life events are like that. They aren’t tidy and neat. They don’t necessarily have story arcs or plot points or climaxes where the suspense is driving you crazy. Sometimes events shift suddenly without reason. True stories are all over the place rising and falling in the most unexpected spots. Frey said, “I wanted the stories in the book to ebb and flow, to have dramatic arcs, to have the tension that all great stories require.” And dude, I get that. That’s what we all what. But we don’t always get that with true stories. Remember, fiction is about the suspension of disbelief. If it rings as absurd you’ll get called on it, no matter how true it is.
Sometimes you will get to tell that story for which the back cover of the book will read: Based on a true story. But if not, just keep making them up.
What do you think? Are true stories usually worthy to be told as fiction? I would love to hear from you.

Why some writers never become authors

running-uphill1Over a year ago I decided I would become avid jogger. And notice I used the word, “avid” because this is exactly what I’d had in mind. Please know that I have never been a jogger, runner or trotter of any sort (although I can be seen taking the occasional brisk walk). It was on one such walk that I got this great idea to jog. As I am taking my old lady walk up the hill, a virile young jogger, drenched with perspiration whisks pass me. She is glowing and happy and doing it. She smiles and waves as she passes and I thought I want that.

Eventually, I began to notice others in my neighborhood; donned in their workout they were whizzing by, getting in their cardio as they should and making it look as breezy as those grinning actors do in those commercials for the exercise contraptions you see on T.V.

Then, I got myself together one morning, did some extensive stretching and braved the neighborhood. I hadn’t planned to jog for too long maybe a mile or so.

Do you realize how long a mile really is when you’re jogging?

When you’re driving, a mile is not even long enough to finish a Krispy Kreme donut or listen to a favorite song. When you’re walking, jogging or using your legs in any way to get there it is long enough to listen to several songs on your phone or iPod; it is long enough to envision yourself on a stretcher being taken away by EMS; it is certainly long enough to become so winded you are gasping for air and seriously considering calling the hubby at home to hitch a ride back.

About a third of the way my legs were giving and suddenly it seemed as though there was this massive gravitational pull and a threat from my body of actually going backwards even though I wasn’t on an incline.

So much for things being the way things seem.

It’s like that with writing too. Writers read books by their favorite authors who make writing seem as effortless and attractive as that devious jogger I bumped into to. Their words seem to pour out in one fell swoop as if in a dreamlike trance. And so you begin to write. Perhaps you dabble here and there when you get inspired. Maybe you pen a short story or two when the spirit hits you. But it’s once you commit that things change.

Writing isn’t always pretty and inspiration can quickly become a byword. It is in fact more difficult than rock climbing (I’m guessing of course). It is psychologically grueling and intensive. You’ll search for the words to describe a thing or a feeling and it’s as if every coherent thought gets up and leaves.

Oh, so you want to be an author?

Writing takes your confidence for a thrashing. Oh, I see, you think your words flows like the Nile. Wait until you have a deadline in which to edit a chapter or a portion of your masterpiece and suddenly your river of inspiration dries up like an Indian well. It is then you hear the voices that remind you that your sister is the creative one of the family. It is then you will hear laughter from within and that begging question: “Uh…again, who told you that you could write?” Or your Momma will call you out of the blue and ask did you remember to submit your resume to that place because she heard that they have great benefits and it can’t hurt to at least consider working a real job.

Will you ever learn the process?

You hear that you must learn how to plot, whether to outline or not, the 10 rules of editing and how to develop style and voice and theme. Your head is spinning and you wish you were back in first grade when writing was just cute and fun. And just when you think you’ve learned enough to actual do some damage to the literary world you find out you are doing it all wrong. Sigh…And you have to ask why many writers never become authors?

Why do we write?

We would do it for free if we had to. We love it just that much. We image someone getting lost in the pages of our book as we’ve done countless times with the books of others. And the thought of working a 9-5 for the rest of our lives with no creative outlet feels a little like drowning.

You have a story pinned up inside and you can’t rest until you’ve gotten it down on paper. The thought of sharing your stories with the world gives you this indescribable thrill and you image that’s what flying feels like. And because for so many of us, it is a gift from God and writing is like walking in purpose. And who doesn’t want to walk in purpose?

SORMAG’s Online Conference

SORMAG’s Online Conference

It is my pleasure to have with me today LaShaunda C. Hoffman, the founder of SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine). She is here to talk about the online conference to be held November 1-3. It’s going to be an exciting and informative event. LaShaunda will tell us all about it, specifically events on the last day of the conference.


I would like to thank Dorcas for hosting me today.

My name is LaShaunda C. Hoffman and I’m hosting the SORMAG’s Online Conference. The one conference you don’t have to leave your home to attend.


What happens on the 3rd Day of the conference?

The third day of the conference is dedicated to Published Authors.  This day will focus on the business side of writing. A lot of writers are moving toward epublishing.  We will feature a few workshops that focus on this way of publishing.

The blog posts will offer the opportunity to ask questions of other authors who have knowledge about different topics.

The panel discussions you have a chance to listen to authors share their wisdom on different topics.  There will be Q/A session for you to participate in.

On the SORMAG Fan page we will host a networking sessions so you can connect with readers and other writers.

Have I convinced you to register?  Check out our agenda, and at the end take a moment to register.

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Who is SORMAG?

SORMAG is Shades of Romance Magazine an award winning magazine this is in digital and blog form.  We feature author interviews and book promotion.

Check out our latest issue –

See what’s happening with us daily at –

Need help with your promotion –


Question #6 – What do you dislike about live conferences?

If you answer the question or leave a comment, you have a chance to win the following:

$10.00 Gift Certificate to (5 winners)

Or Book Teaser Ad (5 winners)

Visit the following blogs for the next questions for chance to win:


Invite to SORMAG’s online conference?

10/11 Simply Said Reading Accessories –

What is an online conference?

10/14 Bettye Griffin –

How can you participate in an online conference?

10/15 Maxine Thompson –

What happens on the 1st Day of the conference?

10/16  Unoma S Nwankwor

What happens on the 2nd Day of the conference?

10/17 Makasha Dorsey –

What happens on the 3rd Day of the conference?

10/18 Dorcas Graham –

What are the goals of the SORMAG’s online conference?

10/21 Deatri King Bey –

Tips to have a good experience at an online conference

1.     Check the agenda and attend the workshops that will interest you

10/22 Renee Williams –

Tips to have a good experience at an online conference

2.     Participate, don’t be a lurker

10/23 Shelia Goss –

Tips to have a good experience at an online conference

3.     Meet new people, introduce yourself

10/24 Patricia Woodside –

Last Day to register for SORMAG’s Online Conference

10/25 Lori Soard –

SORMAG’s Online Conference – Nov 1-3

10/31 See Ya On The Net –

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  If anyone has a question for me feel free to leave a comment. I will be checking back throughout the day to answer them.  Hope to see you at the conference.  LCH

When is a publisher not a publisher?

Good information to share. Sharing our experiences means someone else won’t have to go through it.