My Way is a Unique Highway (revisited)

I’ve had a rather full day of…well, everything. These are the days I’m glad I have old blog posts on Corbin Creations to re-post here. This was one I wrote when I posted the first part of the story detailing my first trip to Massachusetts. That entire story is an e-book on Amazon and were I better at self-promotion, I’d say click here now! And have a handy-dandy hyperlink. I’m not doing that though. I’m just posting the words of a blog entry that even a year later, still inspires me.

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My Way is a Unique Highway – 8/6/2012

I believe I’ve probably mentioned this in previous blogs, but I don’t do things the usual way. If there’s a normal, set path for doing something then I most assuredly deviate and blaze a new trail with my machete of determination. I set a goal and it is vivid in my mind and within my power to obtain and so I pursue it every way I can figure out how. As I’m traveling the new path, I think up all these ideas and aspects of my goal that were not immediately visible to me and I then have to find bridges over occasional pitfalls. Luckily for me, I was blessed with a clever and intelligent mind that continues to amaze me and I am always able to build that bridge and find the light in total darkness.

I have never been and will never be, an average girl. Average is boring and predictable and I am vivacious and spontaneous. We are all of us extraordinary, if we just take the time to stop and look inside ourselves and realize what makes us all unique. I highly doubt following the rules brought success to any of the great trail blazers in history and being timid just means you get shoved aside out of the path of braver folks. I don’t take being pushed aside well and I certainly don’t abide by being overlooked and forgotten. To that end I’ve learned not to let certain things faze me and to accept that when someone fails to see my potential, it is a failing on their part and not my own. I’m tough and I’m strong but I am also very loving and expressive. It really is all about finding balance.

In my quest for my dreams, I have posted the first of many installments in my Massachusetts story on the page appropriately named “Massachusetts.” It truly is my story and not a fictional tale meant to draw in audiences. Writing fiction is far safer and what I’m accustomed to but playing it safe only seems to hold me back. You can certainly get to know an author through their fictional characters because they are all extensions of the writer, but I thought for now I’d just skip ahead and let you know the real me. My beloved English teacher told me in 11th grade that I should write my autobiography and I remember thinking he was crazy. I was only 16, what did I know of life yet? Turns out, he knew what he was talking about and finally at 35, I’m taking his advice. I regret that he has passed and is not here to witness my transformation from shy girl to brave, bold, determined, stubborn, strong woman but I know that his spirit is impressed and continues to cheer me on. Thank you, Derek, I promise I’ll make you proud!

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Truth in Advertising

In the back seat of my Matrix on the way to Boston in November, 2012

In the back seat of my Matrix on the way to Boston in November, 2012

I am not a natural redhead. This is made evident by my dark brown eyebrows and dark roots that grow in every 2-3 weeks. Most of the time I’m more like a calico cat, with my hair a mixture of the last several colors I’ve dyed it. Some colors grab better than others and some fade so there’s always a unique mixture of red, brown and currently, burgundy dancing through my tresses. I color my hair myself because my indecisiveness would be a rather expensive salon habit.

I don’t like to go along with the crowd, never have. My family moved from the country into a rather large suburban school district when I was 13. It was a huge adjustment for a shy, semi-reclusive girl like myself. One of my first days in school a gaggle of popular girls bounced over to where I was sitting in the cafeteria and asked me if I liked New Kids on the Block. I said no and their perfect little noses wrinkled in disdain while their doe-eyes widened in surprise. From that day on I was an outsider.

In high school I was called a witch because I liked reading fantasy novels and wearing dragon-themed jewelry now and then. I was never impressed by boys teasing me or rough housing near me in an attempt to flirt with and impress me. That’s how I earned the “rhymes with witch” moniker. I was happy when high school ended and I saw almost none of those people ever again.

I’m genuine, the real deal, a no-nonsense chick who says what’s on her mind. Quite often my bluntness and sarcasm catch people off guard. I am also a nice girl who was raised with manners and has never forgotten them. When I say please and thank you, I mean it.

I shall reiterate what I said in Writing Every Word. When I post something, whether it’s a Tweet, Facebook status or DM, I’ve taken the time to write it out. I don’t auto-follow or auto-unfollow, I take the time to click on the appropriate buttons. My standard “Thanks for the follow! I followed back :)” is always typed out in that moment and I try to hashtag something relevant to the new follower.

Now that I have a published e-book on Nook and Kindle, I’ve entered the fun world of marketing my story. I read tweets all day long of other authors advertising their books and my goal is to stand out from the crowd. I’m sure that’s every author’s goal. I will schedule tweets but they won’t be the same thing over and over. I won’t be paying anyone to help me advertise because no matter how much they promise to speak in my personal voice, they can’t. There’s only one me. I’m a paid ghost writer as a side job, I’m not about to pay someone else to ghost write for me.

A book teaser I'm working on

A book teaser I’m working on

One more thing: my tweets and posts will never be only about my book or my blog. Last night’s tweets were mostly about the Boston Bruins playing in The Stanley Cup Finals. I’m a human, not a robot and I don’t exist solely to promote my work. I exist to interact, be social and discuss all sorts of topics, not just writing. Perhaps this goes against tons of marketing “rules” but rules and I don’t get along sometimes. The occasional fiery redness of my hair might come from a bottle, but the fire and feistiness within me is 100% natural!

My Boston Story E-book Launches Tomorrow!

View of Boston skyline from Long Wharf. I used this photo as part of my cover.

View of Boston skyline from Long Wharf. I used this photo as part of my cover.

I’ve been working late hours at my computer all week getting my Boston story formatted for Nook and Kindle. It’s been a fun process but more time-consuming than I expected. The only way to learn is by doing though so I’m glad I’m finally doing!

It’s quite lovely that both Nook and Kindle allow fast and easy changes to a story once it’s been uploaded. I’ve re-uploaded and modified my Nook version more times than I can count because every time I preview it I see some little thing that could be improved. I don’t promise that my Boston story e-book will be the greatest work of literary non-fiction ever written or that the visual appeal of it will knock your socks off, but I do promise that it will be 100% me.

This story is the first in an ongoing series detailing my adventures in the beautiful state of Massachusetts. I visit there at least twice a year and will be increasing those visits until I finally at long last live there. Every time I drive into that New England state I feel like I’m coming home again and I can almost hear it saying “Oh boy, here’s that crazy New Yorker again! Wonder where she’ll get lost this time!”

Two of the hardest parts of the whole e-book were writing my author biography and the synopsis of the story. Once they were complete I ran them by my best girlfriends and they said the biography described me perfectly. They should know since they’ve been my friends through thick and thin. I still think the synopsis is a bit wordy so I might be editing that more before I’m completely satisfied.

My e-book officially launches tomorrow on Father’s Day and I know that no matter what happens, my father’s spirit is very proud of me. Sharing this story is both frightening and exciting to me because it is my own personal experience, but it’s definitely at tale that must be told!

Here’s my author biography, enjoy!

Born with a boisterous and adventurous spirit, JulieAnn didn’t fully explore her potential until she set out on her first solo road trip to Boston in November of 2011. Her life was forever changed by that first Massachusetts adventure and her eyes were opened to a fresh future of possibilities.

When she’s not busy being a single mother, homeowner, writer, painter, pack leader-in-training, hopeful gardener and baker extraordinaire, JulieAnn enjoys sleeping–because balancing all that is exhausting! Fantasy manuscripts, scribbled in cursive pencil upon the pages of college-ruled spiral notebooks were JulieAnn’s first venture into the world of writing. In recent years she’s found her own personal voice and shares her daily adventures with others via her blogs, one of which she transformed into her first e-book.

For fun, JulieAnn enjoys playing with her daughters, walking her pup Jazzmin’s paws off, grilling with excessively high flames, singing odd bits of random show tunes and getting lost driving around the Northeast United States. You’ll often find her where you least expect, doing something so uniquely quirky you’ll roll your eyes.

Retracing My Steps

As I started putting the final touches on my upcoming autobiographical e-book entitled “Massachusetts Adventures: Boston” I decided I really needed to use Google Maps to plot the route I took during my first visit to Beantown. Drawing from my memories and studying the photos I took during that overwhelming day in the city, I was able to piece together where I went and when.

Wow! What an eye-opener that was! I know I have the tendency to get lost but seeing my route drawn out on a map made that ridiculously clear to me. I went forward, backtracked and followed that up by walking a large loop that encompassed a few blocks in Boston’s Downtown District and extended down to Chinatown before going back up into the Financial District. I didn’t have a map of the city, heck, I’d barely had a plan for what I wanted to do during my visit there.

When I showed the plotted route to my oldest daughter Jordan she laughed and shook her head. She knows me well and has seen me literally spin in the kitchen as I try to remember where items are that I need. I’m not the most organized person in the world, far from it, but thankfully Jordan didn’t inherit that particular quirk from me. I’m quite certain that when I return to Boston for a third visit (the second visit is yet a different story) with my daughters and mother, Jordan will have a map in hand and plan in mind as to where we should go. I’ll show them all where I went but then I’ll happily step back and let my daughters show me the way, as I enjoy seeing the city for the first time all over again through their eyes.

Good Intentions Matter

Walking with Jazzmin and my daughters rather than writing

Walking with Jazzmin and my daughters rather than writing

Good intentions matter. Even if you don’t get done what you intended to do, having the intention of doing it matters. Now if all you do is have good intentions while never following through on any of them, they lose their importance. It’s about finding balance even when you’re walking on a wobbly beam that spans the length of a piranha-filled river. Not easy but definitely possible.

My intention yesterday was to write about how Jazzmin and Owl learned to get along. It would have been the conclusion of my previous two blogs that featured each of their stories. Obviously that blog entry didn’t happen yesterday and it won’t be happening today either. It’s a cute story but it can wait. I decided to work on my upcoming ebook and spend time with my family yesterday instead. I don’t regret that decision and my good intentions just went a different direction.

I’m sure numerous people reading this have already formatted and published an ebook or two so they know everything involved. I didn’t realize all the steps of the process until I seriously committed myself to doing it early last week. My ebook is the story about my first visit to Boston, Massachusetts in November of 2011. I love the story because I lived it and when I posted it as a blog a while back, it was well-received. Turning it into a book was quite another undertaking though.

I’m awful at editing my own writing. I don’t have the perfect grasp of grammar and I get so swept up in the story that I forget I’m supposed to be editing and proofreading. I realized last week that I needed help editing it. I’d just finished reading A Little Slice of Heaven by Gina Ardito and when I went to her website to see what else she’s written, I saw she does editing too. I shot her a quick email, learned she had a short window of availability to edit my story, took a deep breath and jumped. I sent her my 7012 word story and crossed my fingers.

When I received my edited story back from Gina a couple days later, it read even better than before and I was so happy! It was the boost to my self-confidence that I needed and I was even more determined to get my story out there. I highly recommend Gina Ardito as an editor and will definitely be using her again! I’m also reading another one of her books because that first one I read put the wind back in my romantic sails as it were. I even reviewed it on Amazon.

I spent the next few days after that formatting my story for Nook in the free time I had when I wasn’t working my day job, caring for my daughters, keeping up a house and writing freelance articles. I really need more hours in a day! While I know perfection is impossible, I don’t want to do a shoddy job of formatting my book so the details matter to me. I realized I can either rush just to get my book out there or I can slow down a bit and choose a date to publish it.

I decided I’d aim for this Sunday, Father’s Day, in honor and memory of my father. After all, he was with me in spirit as I explored (and became lost in) Boston that fateful November day, it only makes sense that I acknowledge his unending support. These are good intentions I know I will follow through on. It’s a goal I’ve set for myself and a long overdue realization of a dream. I don’t expect my short story to change the world but I do hope my words touch people and inspire them to explore this amazing journey called life.