Embracing Author and Publisher

Thursday, January 17, 2019

How "Writer" Turns Into "Author"

Hello lovely readers,

I have really enjoyed writing and publishing on this blog during my winter break. It turns out, when I have time, writing is what I want to do - I love it. However, now that we're back to reality, so to speak, my novel is at the top of my priority list.

I am using all of my writing time working on editing my first novel. I have never published anything of this length before, and I have to admit it is harder than I thought it would be. I am trying to be patient with myself and trust the process, but this is taking all of my energy right now.

I look at this point in writing my novel with a sculptor's process in mind. By this I mean that I have an entire draft and I am going through and chiseling off chunks to make the shape right. Now I am beginning to go through and sand down the edges making it smooth and refined. At this point I am working a lot on visual detail descriptions and transitional scenes.

It's amazing how much there is to decide when it comes to writing a novel. Everything from where the characters live to what kind of watch they wear. These details, the atmosphere of their house and their choice of clothes and accessories, do not seem big, but they make the difference when you are trying to get lost in a story.

I believe in this story I am telling and I am learning to believe in myself as a writer.

I have been a writer pretty much all of my life, but I am looking forward to the time when I can call myself an author. My hope is to publish this novel, "Leap of Faith" by the end of 2019.

With that, I present to you my first (hopefully of many) plugs for my upcoming novel:

Leap of Faith 
by Amanda McCusker 

*Cover art not finalized*

Aria Dalton could not wait to get as far away from her Carolina home as she possibly could. She made it as far as the loud and bright Sin City. As a writer, she could go anywhere, but the dream was the glamorous life in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, after several years in the thick of it, the reality is not as exciting as the ideal. The trouble is now she's not sure where to go from here. 
Roman Wagner spent the last six years of his life with his nose stuck in a book trying to make sense of the world through the languages of computer science. Though the world still didn't make any sense, at least he had the education and drive to land a dream job right back where he started in Charleston, South Carolina. He loved his work, yet still felt there was something missing. He never thought he would find it on a company trip for a convention in Las Vegas.  
On a chance encounter, Aria and Roman make an unexpected connection while dancing on the streets of "downtown" Las Vegas. The Fremont Experience will have whole new meaning as the sparks fly and Aria and Roman have to decide for themselves whether they are reading and willing to take that leap of faith.  


Announcing my novel makes it real. I am so excited to make this dream a reality.

Thank you beautiful community for all of your support and love. I will be back with lots of things to write about in time. I would like to explore more topics about the process of writing as well as the necessary self-care when working on a big project. It has been a series of learning opportunities for me during this experience, ones I will be excited to share with you.

What dreams are you working towards this year? Whatever it is, stay focused on your goal and make those small changes in your life to get there. You are worthy of your dreams, now go after them. Enjoy this beautiful life - every little crazy moment of it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How Do You Manifest Time?

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

I'm asking. I wish I had an answer, some sort of inspirational idea of how to solve the problem of not having enough time. I have all of these projects I want to work on, a novel to finish and this pretty awesome family that I like to spend time with. Add that to the daily or weekly errands and chores to keep the house from becoming completely filthy and I'm trying my best to do it all.

It's not going so well.

Time management is such a tricky subject. I see these people who can get so much work done and I'm envious. Though at the same time, I know I need time for rest and self-care. I am focusing on how to eliminate distractions, but sometimes those distractions are worthy of attention. Playing a game with my daughter is a distraction very much worth pursuing. Also, some of the random idea rabbit holes produce great ideas to develop or progress my work.

I've been trying to boil my day down to the baseline priorities. I look at the calendar and start there. Then I add my novel and one household chore. I try not to overbook myself so I can still get some meditation or a yoga in as well as have some time with my family. 

I am trying so hard to make it all work - to be more productive and really get some big things accomplished this year. All I can do is work with that intention everyday and do the best I can with the time I have.

I am trying to figure out how blogging works into all of this. Over winter break, I had time to really focus on my blog and develop the thoughts in my head to share. Now that we are back to school with a full, structured week it is harder to set aside this extra time. I am doing my best and I ask for patience for those of you reading my work. I thank you so much for your support.

How do you manifest time? How do you get it all done? How do you set your priorities?

I wish you all the best in whatever you are setting out to do this year.


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Friday, January 11, 2019

Finding a Way to Do It All

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Hello Dear Readers,

We're two weeks into the new year now and I have to say so far, it's been a good year. I know it's only been 11 days, but t's got to start somewhere, right?

I've been trying to make some changes to my habits this year. For me that means being proactively productive and writing - a lot.

At first anything seemed possible. Of course, we were also still on break for the first week of the year. This week we are back to reality and busy days trying to fit more into a day than is possible. I'm already feeling worn out.

It is hard to set priorities when I want to do it all. It is hard to commit to a daily (or even weekly) task that takes time and energy away from all the other daily (or weekly) tasks that I want to complete.

Choosing what you spend your time and energy on is an important undertaking. There is a finite pool of which to draw from and I understand first hand the anxiety that can build up when you can't get everything accomplished.

There's a quote I found a while ago, though I don't know where it originated from, that says: When things don't add up, start subtracting. I've been contemplating this as I find myself frustrated by not being able to do it all.

I just have to keep doing something and do my best when it comes to managing my time and flowing with my energy levels. This sounds easy, but it is proving a bit more difficult than expected - especially when my inner monologue becomes insistent on what I "should" be doing.

"Should" is a word that I am slowly trying to erase from my vocabulary. I have lots of things I can and need to do, but saying I "should" do this particular thing right now often ends in my staring at a computer screen (or whatever the activity is) and not getting anything done because it is not something I can focus on right now. Of course, eventually you have to get a goal accomplished, but with planning, not force of will.

I am trying to plan better and take care of myself so that I can keep going with maximum amount of energy. For me that means, getting lots of sleep, practicing yoga and keeping a daily journal with lots of thoughts, observations and opinions. All of these practices help me stay inspired, motivated and able to keep writing.

How is your year going so far? Are you able to find the time and energy to accomplish all the things you hope to? Are you giving yourself the self-care you need to make it all happen?

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Inspiration Comes From Everywhere

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

The other day I was in the grocery store and witnessed a moment that was not really mine.

Two guys were in front of me in line to check out. They seemed excited about something and were very animated as they put their items on the conveyor belt. One of the guys bounced over to the cart to pick something off the bottom shelf and slammed his shoulder into the handle on his way up. It looked like it hurt, causing him to pitch forward a little bit. As he went to stand up again, he hit his head on the same handle.

I had to suppress my laughter. I don't know what it is about other's pain that causes us to find it comical. It didn't hurt that he was still smiling when he stood back up, though a little dazed. He brushed it right off, even though his buddy did seem a little concerned for his friend.

It was one of those everyday moments, the ones that happen while you are doing something else. It isn't always a pleasant experience, I don't think anyone would care to hit themselves in the head, but it is a good story.

In fact that was my reaction after witnessing the moment -- I could use this is a story somewhere. It's one of those real life moments where nothing goes quite like you expect it to and it gives characters depth. That is the beauty of life as a writer, inspiration comes from anywhere -- even after a long day waiting in line in the grocery store.

I challenge you to really pay attention to the world and people around you -- notice those little moments on interaction and kindness.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

New Moon Manifestations

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

As the new moon has cycled by the last few days, I have been trying to harness its energy. When the new moon is in the sky is a powerful time to call new dreams, hopes and desires in your life. It is still the beginning of a new year and I don't know about you, but I can use all of the natural, beneficial energy I can get.

I am trying to completely change the way I see the world and striving to be productive on a new level this year. Writing is my personal focus with my goal to complete the final revisions my novel and actively share my art with the world.

Though it is never easy to change, it seems like a simple enough shift. However, that is not including the family that I strive to give my undivided attention so I am fully present for those little moments, or the house that I have also had a renewed commitment to keep up and proactively maintain, or the time it takes for me to prep and manage our homeschool work, or the time set aside for self-care and sleep. It's a lot and I'm trying so very hard to not get overwhelmed so close to the beginning of the year and my promise to myself.

All I can do is my best - that is all we can ask of anyone really, including ourselves. Part of that for me is to try and stay healthy during these cold, wet January months. Living in the Pacific Northwest during winter has given me a whole new perspective on the color gray. There are many shades of it and sometimes it feels like there is a blanket in the sky, though not one that keeps you warm.

To combat all of these elements and expectations on myself, I am calling to the new moon for strength, focus, vitality and perseverance.

I looked up the other night and saw the new moon, just a sliver in the darkness. It seems hard to fathom how something we can't really see can be so powerful. Like many things in life, the power lies in the unseen. Those daily habits we try so hard to build has the same unseen power. Though we can't always see the immediate impact of journaling, cleaning or positive thinking, it makes everything else flow more smoothly, allowing your entire life to change.

What are you calling into your life today?

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Clemson Tigers, College National Champions...Again!

Clemson beats Alabama in a 44-16 domination at the College National Championship. I am proud to be a Clemson alumni and a part of this wonderful culture of people. I am in awe of not only the Tiger's tremendous talent and teamwork to create success on the football field, but also for the character they exhibit off the field. Clemson was a great place to go to college and I celebrate in the success they are having now throughout the university.

Go Tigers!

Monday, January 7, 2019

An Inversion Breakthrough

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Hello Dear Readers,

How are your new years resolutions going? Have you hit the gym, watched a sunrise, started that habit, made time to practice your craft, drank more water...whatever it is that you desired to do this year? Every day is an new day and an opportunity to make a good choice with how you spend your time and energy. We're a week into the new year and I believe this is going to be a wonderful year.

I am trying to be more patient with myself this year. I get very frustrated with myself when I forget what I'm doing or when I feel like I am moving really slow. I make mistakes and I don't always know the best way to go. I am trying to live a life of full expression, to not be afraid to put myself out there and make a way for myself.

I was thinking of this in my yoga practice this morning. The instructor was very kind and assisted me with my headstand in class today. I was very glad for her help because I am one who has a hard time putting my feet over my head. I've have a theory that whatever fear that keeps my feet planted on the ground is the same fear that keeps me from reaching out and fulfilling my dreams.

I don't want to hold myself back anymore, so I have been breaking down the art of inversions. Instead of swinging my feet over my head, which causes me uncontrollable anxiety, I am building my core and arm muscles to be able to hold my weight. I have been practicing balancing my weight on my hands while my feet are still on the ground, slowly adding weight to them as I practice. It has been a slow increment of improvement as I practice both at home and the studio.

This assisted inversion was a breakthrough. Being stable upside down with the help of my instructor made me feel like I could accomplish anything. I believe it has been the dedication to break down this pose and take the time to build up each part that is making it happen. I still have a lot of practice to do before I can do it on my own, but life is about the journey I am on my way there.

We are all balancing many priorities. Don't forget to make your own mental and physical health a priority this year. Whatever you are working on, I wish you the best. Just keep moving forward and you will find your way.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Seahawks Playoff Outfit

It's playoff week for the NFL! This week, my Seahawks are fighting for the wild card. I was excited to be home to cheer for the Seahawks as they play the Cowboys. I wore my bright green Seahawks shirt with my Seahawks yoga pants and my Seattle socks in support of my team. Go Seahawks!

It was a great game, but in the end, the Seahawks were not victorious. The Cowboys will continue in the playoffs and the Seahawks will have to try again next year. It's been a great year of football! And it's still not quite over yet.

Are you a football fan? Do you have a favorite outfit to root for your team?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Good Day for Getting Things Done

Photo by zan douglas on Unsplash

The other day I didn't feel productive, but then yesterday I had an amazingly productive day. I worked on my novel for about four solid hours and then later I spend another 2 hours getting our homeschool week ready to come back from winter break.

It feels good to get these massive things accomplished. I still had time to play a game with the family, cook dinner and just spend some time relaxing and watching Netflix specials. I am very thankful for days like this one.

I was sitting on the couch this evening after watching a Netflix special: The World's Most Extraordinary Homes. (It was well done, beautifully captured and inspiring. I recommend it.) I looked at my husband and realized, I feel happy today. I think we need to appreciate those moments, however simple or fleeting they may be.

You are never going to do everything you set out to do. If you are like me, as soon as you do one thing you are gearing up for three more in its wake. Those never-ending to-do lists and gasps of breath are life. Those moments of stillness and peace are life. Personal growth requires a constant balance of doing and resting. It's all your life, enjoy every moment.

Be an active participant in your life. The other day I was very active and out of the house. Yesterday I was very intellectual and stayed in to work. It all happens in its own time. When we can find our own rhythm and learn how to ride the waves of energy, we can be at peace with the constant waxes and wanes of our own life.

Do you notice days that are really busy and productive and others that concentrate on rest and creativity? I hope you have plenty of both. Self-care is just as important as your job. Your life is what you make it, make it a good one, okay.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Hidden Productivity and Clean Teeth

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

It felt like the day got away from me a little bit today. I got toward the end and wondered if I had even done anything all day, it doesn't seem like I marked anything off of my list.

As I started thinking through my day, I realized I had actually done quite a bit. I went to yoga, had a wonderful conversation with my mother and went to the dentist. Actually, I was very productive today, though not in the ways that lessen my to-do list. However, that doesn't make the day any less important or meaningful. Self-care is very important, today was a maintenance day.

The dentist was actually quite lovely. I've never liked the dentist, until I found this one. I just got my braces off at the end of autumn last year and this was my first cleaning since. I had a great report of gum health and my teeth are settling just fine after being in braces for two years. It made me very happy to hear all my struggle and emphasis on cleaning are paying off. It also felt very good to have clean, and seemingly whiter teeth. It's also nice to know I'm not afraid of the dentist anymore.

After all that, I still got my desk cleared off and all of my digitizing projects sorted. I'm not going to finish digitizing my archives before school starts next week, so I needed to set them neatly aside so I can work on them as I get a chance. I still have some homeschool prep work to do before school starts, so I need to focus on that for the next couple of days.

This winter break has been amazing, and it's still not over. Nonetheless, it is time to start ramping back up to reality. I am reluctant to get back to our expeditious routine, but I am also looking forward to it. Zoey and I set down today and went over routine flow and expectations. It was a great conversation that I believe got her excited about school again; it worked for me.

There are always tons of things to do. There are always real life moments and distractions that side track us. I am working on balancing these two. I want to do a lot, so I have to set myself up for success by making an efficient way to track and manage my tasks and calendar. I am getting there and it's very exciting to feel my stress level go down and my over all life engagement go up.

How is this new year treating you? We're half a week in and I'm still excited about the potential this new year has to offer. I hope you are feeling positive too!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Finding my Voice

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

My husband and I have decided that this feels like a prep year. I'm not sure what we are prepping for, but I believe it will be some sort of lifestyle change for us over the next few years. We have learned to listen to these gut instincts and follow them through.

We have both independently set our focus on creative talents. We don't have the same interests, but we both enjoy seeing each other learn and grow as an artist and a person. The most important part is we are not afraid to try. We are analyzing our time and money management to make efficient use of our time together and independently, while still having time for rest and self-care. I am looking forward to this year because I am already feeling the benefits of clearing away mental and physical distractions.

What this looks like right now is not nearly as inspirational. I am currently going through all my old newspapers and ideas and archiving them digitally. Turns out this is quite a big undertaking. Being an aspiring writer all my life, at least subconsciously, I have managed to gather quite a bit of paper that has traveled with us for years. When we move, we lug several boxes of photos, articles and keepsakes that we never even look at. We even carried them across the country when we moved from South Carolina to Washington State.

Now that I have done an overhaul on my own mental and physical state, it is time to focus on my surroundings. We aspire to travel, but it is hard to be able to pick up and move with a couple hundred pounds of paper weighing us down. So I've been trying to lessen our carbon fingerprint.

As I was sorting through these papers yesterday, I made this statement: "I am very proud of these accomplishments, but I need them as a stepping stone, not a paper weight." This really resonated with me as I continued going through the process today. By archiving these documents, I am putting them in a format that I can easily access and share. The pile of newspapers behind the couch in the living room is just not a useful place; not to mention I could use the space to create a better flow for the room.

Now that I am processing these papers, I am seeing where to go from here. My goal for this year is to find my voice. To stop being bogged down about whether my work is good or how long it takes to develop and just do whatever is in front of my in that moment.

Remembering how joyful I was being able to meet and showcase so many amazing people and artists was inspiring. I want to collaborate with people again and start making something happen this year. I need my voice to be able to communicate with others. I have to know who I am so I can add my individual perspective to an enterprise.

I need to let go of all those iterations and just concentrate on making the outcome great. It's time to let go of what I think my life will look like and just enjoy each moment for the beauty it holds and the learning opportunities that help me grow.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

I Forgot To Remember To Forget

My cat, Benji, helping with the organizing process
Photo thanks to Amanda McCusker

Leading up to the new year, I've been going through my old box of writings and albums and such with the intention of digitizing the memories and details so I can stop lugging around these boxes of paper. I haven't published or created scrapbooks for years, and yet there is an entire large shelf full of these documents in my living room. They are doing nothing but collecting dust. I figured it is past time to archive them in the 21st century.

I started with my written material today. I published for three consecutive years for my college newspaper. Those articles add up. I also interned at a newspaper in North Carolina one summer and gained a stack of experience in the form of newspaper and magazine articles. I am very proud of these accomplishments, but I need them as a stepping stone, not a paper weight.

I am no longer a journalist. However, as I looked through the articles I wrote during those years, I realized that the ones featuring artists and the creative process were the ones I enjoyed and remembered the most.

I was glad for all of the creative writings I kept as well. I had several years of personal and school projects filled with poetry, short stories and journal entries. It is nice to see that I have continually improved on my writing and my record-keeping skills.

Seeing these pieces all together as I compile them into my computer, I see some patterns forming. I am able to distinguish a particular direction my journey is slowly nudging me towards. I want to complete my novel, with fever and passion. That accounts for the creative half, yet I also greatly enjoy the connection and learning opportunities to meet people and their crafts that journalism provided. I love sharing knowledge about people, art and causes.

My husband has jokingly said I collect causes in reference to my enthusiastic advocacy for pancreatic cancer, mesothelioma cancer, and a few other along the way. I enjoy being with people who really care about something. I have the attention span of a goldfish--I swim around from project to project and topic to topic without often having the tenacity it takes to lock in on one thing. I realize however, I love collecting information and doing research. I want to share my findings with the world, to write and communicate with groups for a common goal.

I'm thinking about how I can take this skill, which my journalist days inspired in me, and make it work for me now. I am publishing a book this year and I want to connect with more artist and create a community of inspiration and encouragement. I'm still trying to figure out what this will look like, but I am excited about the potential of this year and having the capacity to really get some work done.

It's been a day full of looking back over the last ten to fourteen years and I am glad for it. I've had some good insight about where I want to go from here. I've been able to let go of some material that will hopefully lighten my load and help propel me forward into my new ventures.

Have you ever looked back at past projects and experiences to get a better idea of how to move forward?

I sort of stumbled upon this purge of information trying to clean up the space to use it more efficiently, but I am thankful for the lesson. I recommend taking some time to see how you got to where you are and making a path for your future.

Wordless Wednesday: Live From CenturyLink Field

Cardinals vs Seahawks @ CenturyLink Field
Photo by Amanda McCusker

Happy Wordless Wednesday! 

Join in the Wordless Wednesday fun!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019

Seattle, WA - New Year's Eve
Photo thanks to Amanda McCusker

It is a brand new year. A whole new set of numbers to remember. An entire year older. Do you feel any different? Neither do I.

And yet, in some ways I do.

I can hardly remember last New Year's Eve. One year ago we were on our back deck trying to vaguely see the Seattle fireworks in the distance. We set of party poppers and had a great time anyway. That felt like a different lifetime, yet it was only a year. This year, we were on a pier on Lake Union with friends watching the fireworks and laser show off the Space Needle. It was a good time too. Another good year.

No matter where you are, you can have an amazing time. No matter where you are going, you can have a good journey along the way.

It's been another year. We can look to the past for direction, we can look to the future for success, but what it comes down to is what you do today. What matters in this moment? What do you want out of this day, month, year, life?

A whole new year brings a whole new world of possibilities. It was there yesterday, but you didn't see it until now...it's not to late. You never know, now might be just the right time.

What are you going to do this year? What are you going to do today?

Make an intention today, then make it again tomorrow. A month down the road, make it again. Keep going until you get there and then keep going still. It is time for success, it is time for tomorrow, it is time for you to be who you want to be.

Go for it, right now.


Happy New Year 2019!
Photo thanks to Amanda McCusker

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