Dream

My mom was a dreamer.

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An incredible, crazy fun dreamer.

 

She  loved to sew.

She had plans to be one of the best children’s fashion designers in the nation.

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Her clothing line made Earnshawns Magazine and was featured in a trade show in 2006.

She came up with ideas that were way before her time and I am now seeing some of the designs she created on the clothing racks of various stores.

 

She was so talented.

 

She would create outfits out of unique patterns and colors and fabrics.

She went on this African kick once, and created jumpers, jackets and parachute pants out of Kente cloth, a fabric filled with vibrant colors and patterns from Africa.

 

 

 

My sister and I were her guinea pigs. Everything she made, we wore everywhere. The vibrant colors and patterns of Africa screamed loudly on my fair olive skin.

 

Third graders can be real jerks. I got called Kunta Kente from Roots. I begged my mom to buy  clothing from the Gap.

 

She didn’t stop. She created more clothing, more designs, more dreams.

 

Her dreaming landed her a clothing contract with JC Penny’s. I don’t exactly remember the names of her clothing line, but it flourished in the stores. She couldn’t afford to hire someone to manufacture all the merchandise for her, so she spent all her time sewing hundreds of pieces of clothing.

 

She’d break to feed us, help us get ready for school, complete homework and get ready to bed.

 

We’d often fall asleep to the sounds of her sewing machine whirring in the background, the faint light of her sewing machine peaking under our bedroom door.

This went on for a year. She got more contracts, more stores, more sewing.

 

More dreaming.

 

Then dreaming had to turn into surviving.

 

She was a single mother, with two very rambunctious, adventurous little girls. Sewing for stores in Georgia was going okay, but it was not enough money to take care of her family. She would have to leave Georgia and go to LA or New York to pursue her dream.

 

My mom was very focused on our education and feared we would not get the proper education we needed if we attended school in a big city and weren’t in a wealthy area. She had us living in an upperclass area of Marietta that she could barely afford, just so we could have access to better schools.

 

She did not want her dream to distort our future.

 

She picked up another desk job to make ends meet.

Soon the desk job and the struggle to raise two girls on a single salary took over the dream.

 

The dream became a hobby.

Then it faded into the background as eviction notices, overdue bills, and my cancer diagnosis loomed overhead.

 

My mother set aside her dream for us.

 

Occasionally she’d pick the sewing back up again and previous opportunities would arise and she’d pursue them. She’d get close, so close, but then the cares of the world would take over and the dream would be set aside again.

 

This pattern would happen over and over again, until she herself was diagnosed with cancer and died.

 

Watching my mom struggle with her dream made me afraid to pursue my own.

Yet, she always encouraged me.

“ You’re a writer, Sweetie, it’s what you’re meant to be. Don’t listen to what anyone says to discourage you; do what you love. God will always provide.”

 

 

So I tried to become a dreamer, too.

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I created bucket lists.

I planned to travel the world.

I hoped for a family of my own some day.

I wanted to become a writer.

 

My writing dream followed me everywhere.

 

I too, put my dream on the back-burner. I pursued Recreation Therapy, Rehab Counseling, and then Recreation Therapy again. I now have a job I love.

 

But writing…

It won’t leave.

God tells me that my writing is a gift.

But sometimes, I am afraid to use it.

 

God tells me:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened and do not be dismayed. For the Lord thy God will be with you, wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9

 

This is my go-to verse when I am afraid.

 

Afraid of failure.

Afraid of success.

Afraid to dream.

 

God then tells me to write more. That if I do write for Him, He will bless it and bring success.

 

My only requirement is to trust Him and not be afraid to dream.

 

So I started to pursue my dream; I applied to Daughter of Delight last year to write devotionals and I got picked.

I was elated!

I could final put some time into pursuing my dream.

When it ended I looked for more work. I got a lot of rejections.

And writers block hit hard.

I got discouraged.

I stopped dreaming.

Stopped writing.

But God persisted.

“You’re a writer, Sweetpea. It’s what I called you to do. You must focus on your writing more.”

He then gave me a BIG promise along with that.

I got scared. I resisted a little.

But then I decided – YOLO.

 

So now I am dreaming again.

And it’s scary.

But it is starting to pay off.

 

To start my dream, I reached out to a few online ministries and I am now helping them out with their stories.

They are small roles, and not exactly writing, but I love it.

 

And on March 14th, I’ll have my first article published through Joy of It.

And there are more along the way.

It’s exciting.

It makes me want to keep dreaming.

Keep pursuing.

Keep writing.

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Dream always.

No matter how much it scares you.

No matter how many bumps in the road.

Or rejections you get.

Or doubts you have.

Go for it.

God will bless it.

Just dream.

Beginnings aren’t easy…

It’s been about six weeks since I started my zombie novel. I took a break from it because I couldn’t figure out how to start the first chapter. Also, I have the attention span of a five year old and I got bored.

My friends joke about this all the time…and they are right.

Until about three nights ago.

I woke up around 3am in a cold sweat litterally shaking in my bed. My heart was racing, my head was throbbing, “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These” was playing loudly in my head (no idea why?). I had just had the most epic, terrifying zombie apocalpse dream of all time, (well, so far). As I trembled in fright and sleepily reached for my lamp to flood my bedroom with light, I thought to myself:

OMG, all of that is going in the book. I’ve got my last chapter!

So here I am.  I’ve been writing since Sunday, and it’s going awesome! I am not quite ready to send the ending to my editors yet. It still needs a lot of tweaking, especially in the dialogue area (dialogue is hard, yo!) but it’s almost there.   I’m thrilled to have the ending, although the way it ends hints at a second book.

And wouldn’t you know…I know EXACTLY how I want to start the second one. (Yes Mikey, you were right; there needs to be three stories)  If I hadn’t promised myself to NOT start working on the second story without finishing the first one, the chapter to the second book would be complete.

Seriously.

It’s infuriating.

I’ve never been good at beginings in all aspects of my life. It takes me a while to get started, but once I do, I dive right in and go all out. I also live for endings. I want to know how everything is going to end up, even before it starts. If I could write out my life story, I know I’d have the ending done first.

For me, a book is all about the ending. A terrible ending can ruin a really good book as well as somewhat save a terrible book. Right now,  I love the ending I am working on. The story ends with a lot of chaos, betrayal and carnage. At the end, everything is a mess. You don’t know if key characters are still alive, if characters have switched sides. There are so many unanswered questions…and I love it. I want people to be angry when they finish, yet I want them to want more.

I got the idea for this ending from one of my favorite writers, the great Stephen King. First, if you’e never read “The Long Walk” go read it. Now. It’s an amazing story. In the book, 100 guys sign up to walk for miles. The last one standing wins. That is all I am going to tell you because revealing any more will ruin it.

If my copy wasn’t in Glendale; I’d start reading it right now.

I love the characters. I love how I practically abandoned all social responsibilities and priorities to finish this book.  It’s twisted, humorous and agonizing; there are so many emotions you experience reading that book. I’ve read it at least ten times. It’s not at all scary like most of his works, but it doesn’t make the book any less awesome.

But then you get to the ending. At the end of the story, you expect all your questions to be answered. You are practically giddy with expectation of how he is going to wrap up all this awesomeness and explain everything. You can finally go put the book down and start working on that 15 page midterm you’ve managed to put off for three days.

Then Stephen King robs you.  I literally threw the book in an outrage.

Who knew a book could cause so much outrage?

At first I thought I was just missing the point, so I read it again. Still the same reaction. I knew how it was going to end, and I reacted  as if I had read it for the first time. I even lent it to a friend, who texted me three days later:

WTF Stephen King?! What’s with the ending?! I’m sad.”

I’m not the only one.

As much as I hate how that book ends (I’m getting irritated just thinking about it) it’s one of my favorite stories from him. Don’t get me wrong, the ending isn’t terrible; it just infuriates you. Yet, I still love it and will read it a least three times a year.

That is what I want to do to my readers. I want them to be angry, but want more. I want to leave them hanging so that they are practically ravenous for a second story.

I hope I can pull it off.

Until then, I need a beginning and some serious inspiration.

Back to writing. Here’s hoping another terrifying dream comes my way.

Why wait for tomorrow?

Last week I semi jokingly wrote a blog about writing a zombie novel before I die. I got a lot of feedback from that post, and a series of posts on facebook that followed after. Well, one week later, I’m a little over thirty pages into my zombie novel. I have no title for it yet, nor do I know how I am going to start the first chapter, but its got a great prologue. I started with the middle and pieces of the ending first. It’s a weird method, but it works for me.

I love this…

I have not written fiction in such a long time, it feels great to do it again. The downside to writing again, is that I have totally blown off my running. Bad Alexis. I am forcing myself to go after work on Wednesday so I can nail my usually four miles down. I should be at six miles a day by now. I have ten weeks left to train and if I increase my millage by one mile a week, I should be good. Next time I train for a race, I’m giving in and training with a buddy. Hopefully they will be way more disciplined than I am and be willing to crack the whip every once in a while when I don’t feel like running.

I had to sift through a lot of weirdness to get this image…

I haven’t had any trouble keeping myself motivated to write. Once I started doing this, it’s really become something I think about on a daily basis. My first week into this has been a lot of fun.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and my friends since I started this awesome madness.

1) I have really awesome, hilarious, and supportive friends.

When I first started writing, I had three friends that I knew I would  automatically send my work to. I knew they would be honest with me, give good feedback and that I could trust them not to leak it to others. Well, that group has grown to eight. I have eight editors now, and they are fantastic. These are friends who asked to read my stuff. It was nerve racking to send it out to them, but I am so glad I did. They are as great as my original three:  they point out the errors, give great ideas, and most of all ,they actually read it. It’s really been great. For the ones who haven’t read it, they still spend tons of time with me on Facebook brainstorming. They send me weapons to research, combat methods to try and other zombie related stuff.

Did you know that Guns & Ammo has a blog that tells you everything you need to know to survive the zombie apocalypse? I didn’t. Thanks Mikey!

To my excellent eight (shut up, I know that’s cheesy) thank you so much. Thank you for the plot ideas and feedback. Thank you for answering all my text messages emails and Facebook messages.  Thanks for being willing to talk to me for hours on end about something that is complete fantasy. You guys are all getting royalties and a trip on me if this thing takes off.

We’ll probably be singing this on our trip 🙂

2) I have a really dark mind.

Depressed or not; it looks like I still have the ability to come up with some pretty dark stuff. Yay! It’s nice to know that I don’t have to be on the brink of self destruction to write a horror/action story. It’s nice to write for the fun of it, not because I am feeling so dark, hopeless and twisted that its the only way I can express what is going on.

This is a terrible place to be no matter how creative it makes you.

3) People reading your stuff is absolutely exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

When I email my first three friends, although I trusted them, I wasn’t sure how they were going to like what I wrote. When I got some positive feedback from them, I included a few more friends: one of those being probably one of my biggest critics, another I view as a mentor, a family member and the last friend I had no idea what to expect. I was terrified to send them my work, but I am glad that I did. They’ve helped a lot and helped me get over my fear of completely sucking. I know that not everyone will like what I write and I am okay with that. One of my friends said to write no matter what anything else thinks. I’m sticking to that.

Overall this has been a great experience. I’m glad I decided to do it and that I am not bored with it yet. I know I planned to have this as something to do in the future, but why wait for tomorrow when you can accomplish something today?

 

Bucket list: Write a Zombie Novel

I LOVE zombies. I am absolutely obsessed with anything zombie related. I geek out over this zombie stuff on a daily basis. Some people geek out over Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons…my thing is zombies, particularly surviving and killing them. I am a total zombie nerd and pretty proud of it.

Seriously.

This year, my zombie nerdiness reached an all time high. When all that stuff with the crazy bath salts  face eating guy went down, I actually got excited. When the heart and brain eating roommate story hit the airwaves, I contacted the CDC for an emergency preparedness kit and joined the zombie task force. When the story about the Jersey guy opening up his stomach and throwing his entrails at the police aired; I went back to Caswells for shooting practice. When I saw the wig stealing, arm eating woman story posted on Facebook; I suited up.

YES! YES! OMG YES!!

“This is it!” I exclaimed with glee. ” The one  moment I’ve waited for has finally arrived. The zombie apocalypse is here!!!”

Sadly, all these incidents were drug related. There is no zombie apocalypse.

Won’t be needing this any time soon 😦

Yet.

Now I know what you must be thinking:

“What a heartless weirdo. You get excited over people getting their arms, faces, hearts and brains chewed up by other human beings? People died, Lex, what’s wrong with you?”

You’re right. This is a weird thing to be excited about. I feel really bad for what happened to those people. Bath salts are awful, I work with people who are addicted to them and I see how it ruins their lives. It’s a really terrible thing.

But…

I was so looking forward to killing zombies.

If and when the zombie apocalypse comes, I want to be on the front line kicking butt, grenade shooting crossbow in hand. Strapped to my back will be huge samurai swords that I pull out simultaneously to slice off their heads. Strapped to my ankles will be two .38’s called Samuel L. and Chuck that I handle with ease while doing spin kicks in the air. I’ll have more ammo on me than Neo did while trying to save Morpheus. These are the things I dream about, people. Literally. I have  apocalyptic zombie butt kicking dreams on a weekly basis. I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to rue the day. I love it.

Aw yeah!!!

When I am running, exhausted and getting down to my last mile stretch, I picture myself doing all that is listed above.   I am doing all my ninja moves that will magically appear the day of the apocalypse, no formal training required. My clumsiness is gone; each move I execute with complete control and grace. For some reason, that image alone helps pull me through my last mile.  I even have a Zombie Killing playlist on my spotify:

Don’t judge. You know you have a crazy playlist.

I know all of this is a wild dream because the likely hood of a zombie apocalypse is slim to none, but I can’t help it. I just love zombie stuff. It’s the one element in horror movies and novels that don’t scare me at all. I can’t handle demons, ghosts, serial killers and aliens in horror movies, but zombies are just hilarious to me. It just amazes me how something dead could do so much damage. In my world, zombies would be dead in a second.

Sir…you are my hero.

I’ve recently picked up Max Brooks World War Z and find myself unable to put the book down. All I have done today is sleep, eat and read that book. It’s really good and a real page turner. If you are a zombie nerd like me, I suggest you pick it up.

Go buy this book. NOW.

As I was reading this book, I got this crazy idea to write a zombie apocalyptic novel of my own. This crazy idea may have been induced by all the processed crap and sugar I had at my friends house the other night, but I am still going for it.  I love to write (obviously) and I love writing horror, although most the stuff I write I don’t finish because I end up scaring myself. So, why not write about killing zombies? Why not take writing that is therapeutic outlet and zombies and turn it into a creative outlet?  I have a wild enough imagination to pull this off. I think I can do it.

As much as I love her books; her writing is atrocious.

As this idea began to form in my head, I found myself bubbling over in excitement. I have vivid zombie apocalyptic dreams on a weekly basis that I remember well, so I figured I could piece together bits of my dreams and hopefully come up with a book. I have enough friends who are writers who I could show my work to, and they would honestly tell me whether or not what I wrote was crap. So that takes care of editors.  Now all I have to do is find a publisher and start writing and I am good to go!

If a overwhelming number of my friends suggest this title for my book, I’ll take the hint.

I am really serious about this. I am going to do it.

I already have somewhat of a plot in mind as most of my dreams involve fighting zombies with Jesus (weird mix, I know) so I am going to start with that and see where it goes. The hard part is finishing it. I used to write a ton of fiction when I was severely depressed and a lot of what I wrote was quite good. Actually, it was pretty frightening and dark, but it was still good.  The downside is that I once I felt better, I never finished any of it. I have a inbox filled with unfinished stories that I really can’t finish because I am no longer in that mindset to finish them. So, this will be my first attempt in quite a while to write some fiction without being severely depressed. This will be interesting.

If my book comes out like this; it could always be a children’s book.

I know it won’t get written tomorrow,( although I wish I were that awesome) and I know it could take years, but I am going to try. It never hurts to try, and it will give me something to do when I am bored to tears on Tuesdays. I’ll keep y’all posted on my progress and maybe if I am bold enough…I’ll slip an excerpt or two in one of my blog posts.

Well, back to brainstorming for this book. It isn’t going to write itself.