Posts Tagged With: authors

Starting a New Chapter

Man walking down road at sunset


Stories are made up of various chapters, and my life is my story.  It’s my own personal adventure. Some chapters are sad, some dark, some happy, some exciting, some expressing major triumphs, while others are filled with unimaginable pain and heartache.  That’s life. Everybody’s story is unique.  We may have some similarities, and our lifelines cross daily with others, but our stories are ours alone – it’s our autobiography.

We think we are the authors of our own stories, but we’re not, we are the main character – whether that be the protagonist or antagonist, we are the center – the gravitational force that everything within our stories revolve. While our character makes decisions, we don’t write our stories, we live them. We don’t control the direction of our tales no more than the author.  An author has the idea, knows the beginning and the end, knows key points and plans the intentions for the story, but until their fingers start tapping the keys or the pen starts scratching across the parchment, the story doesn’t really come alive, it’s only a concept.  When it does take flight – the story goes as destined, regardless of the will of the author or the characters within it.

Yet, we are editors.  We can polish our past chapters, even gloss over or try to hide bits of them, but it doesn’t change the real story that happened.  Once it’s happened, it’s happened and no matter what we do to change it, we can’t. Bad editing can ruin a good story – because if it’s not told properly as it was meant, it causes the plot lines in later chapters to unravel and expose an error, an omission, or a lie. A good editor knows not to mess with the integrity of past chapters.

Having given that little lesson above, my post today is about starting a new chapter in my story.  Many things have changed in my life over the past few months.  I start a new job this morning.  I’m starting a new relationship with a beautiful new soul. I’m starting new friendships, changing my circle and surrounding myself with positive, energetic, and people with beautiful souls. Why – because I’ve had enough dark chapters. I want a good chapter, a successful one, and one filled with joy, laughter, love and success.  I want laughter instead of tears, butterflies in my stomach instead of a constant ache, and to fly. The last chapter was me breaking out of my cocoon and though battered and exhausted, I have a set of big, beautiful wings.  It’s time to fly.

My new job is going to provide an opportunity to change a lot of things for me, give me a little breathing room from the financial and emotional struggle I’ve been in the last few years.  It’s like a release valve, letting out the built up steam of stress and struggle. I’m looking forward to getting back to a point of enjoying life, not just surviving it, of getting back to doing to the things I love and enjoy. I’ve been doing many of them lately, but there are many more I’m ready to get back to as well.

I’ve met a new man. His name is Scott and he’s wonderful. I couldn’t have written him more perfect – for me – had I tried. Of course he’s not perfect, and like any good writer knows – there’s always flaws, hidden demons, and more depth of character than the introduction implies, but I’m looking forward to getting to know that depth.  So far – he’s hit every mark of my heroic fantasy man.  He has a good heart, he’s very caring, we have so much and so many things in common, and he’s someone I can be proud of, be encouraged by, and is not someone I need to rescue or feels they need to rescue me. I like him just like he is, and I feel he likes me the same. We’ve only just begun our chapter, have only had a couple dates, and have only shared a kiss, but I already feel very connected to him. He feels safe, and I feel safe around him. Someone who isn’t afraid of my past, who is ready to share my present, and have a great plan for the future. He is kind. He appears adventurous. He has goals for himself and his future and is working on achieving them. I believe I could easily love him, but most of all – I believe he could easily love me just like I am – that he could love me deeply like the way I’ve always wanted to be loved.

Only time will tell how this chapter reveals itself, but I’m really hoping it’s a good one. My story could use a good chapter. I want an adventurous chapter, a great love affair of life, and a fairy-tale romance. So, as I sit here and write this blog post, sipping on my coffee, and dreaming about the possibilities waiting for me, I smile.  No more looking back. Time to end the grief of what had been. It’s a new day, a new life, and new chapter. Let the journey begin.


Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Dream, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, friends, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, Musing., Musings, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Triumph Over Tragedy

I was so blessed when I was approached by author R.T. Kaelin about his idea to put together an anthology of short stories from published writers in an effort to raise money for the American Red Cross specifically to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.  Without hesitation, I jumped on board. 

I’m doing my part by writing a fantastic story, but I need your help to really get this project on a roll.

If you’ve been searching for a creative way to help out victims of Hurricane Sandy – here’s a great opportunity.  For as little as $7, you can help the victims and in return receive an eBook copy of this fabulous anthology with stories from over twenty fantastic authors.

Check it out!

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Ladder of Specificity

There have been many times that I’ve touted the tremendous resource the Carrollton Creative Writer’s Club (CCWC) has been for me, since being invited in the fall of 2009 by Fred Hamlin during my very first book-signing at Borders Bookstore. I’ve made some great networking connections and new friends, some just as crazy as I am. There’s nothing like finding yourself in a room full of people who really understand the weird way a writing mind works. There are some things I can’t fully share with my non-writing friends and family, because they can’t understand. So, for a long time I really felt alone in that part of my life. Now because of the CCWC, I know many writers and it feels much like a family – filled with all kinds, some you like, some you don’t like, some you’d never admit any relation, and others you admire, respect and find inspiration, but you’re connected to them all.

Yesterday at the Tuesday CCWC, we had a guest speaker, Jo Brachman of Pine Lake, GA. I was late to the meeting so I missed her resume, but made it just in time for the first assignment concerning a writing technique called “Ladder of Specificity”. Though the program was targeted especially for poetry, I always look for a way to associate everything to apply and enrich my novel writing.

What is a ladder of specificity? According to my understanding it’s a writing technique that starts with a topic with the most general of description being applied to the bottom rung of a ladder. As you climb each rung of a ladder, the writer is to add to the depth of the description and meaning by becoming more specific. There’s no limit to how many rungs, or how tall your ladder can be, until you’ve creatively achieved the desired inspiration. This method is to help with preventing or remedying writer’s block.

With this exercise, we were instructed to use descriptions that will help avoid lifeless word choices by focusing on things such as amounts, numbers, calculations, physical senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, shape, size, color, texture) and the who, what, where, when and why.

Here is the result of my ‘ladder of specificity’ after being given a prop. We were handed three items (a feather, a match stick and/or an old utensil). I chose the matchstick for my ladder. Don’t forget to read from the bottom – up.

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Open the Window

To fuel our imaginations, we’ve got to live our lives.
To create other worlds, we’ve got to better understand the world in which we live.
To develop a character, we’ve got to study the different characters around us.
To inspire hope, we’ve got to witness depravity.
To describe love, we’ve got to experience it in both joy and pain.
To exhale, we must first inhale.
So, open the window and fly into life, and then watch your dreams soar.

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The Real Story






Most often a book is judged based on a back-cover short synopsis, a blurb or recommendation by a fellow author, celebrity, or someone high in the writing industry, the cover art, a review or a query letter. I’ve made the same assessment for years. It’s the main factors that determine whether I read the pages between the bindings. That’s all good and well, but those things are NOT the REAL story, just the commercials.

The real story happens in every chapter, scene, paragraph, line and amid every word. This is where characters are developed, plots threads are sewn, executed and tied, and where the relationship between reader and story is made. We don’t fall in love with ideas, but with characters and events as they are read, revealed and received.

This is where the real magic lives. This is where true talent is exhibited. Anyone can tell a story, but not everyone can have a vision, and then masterfully craft the path to its fulfillment, breathing life into characters, worlds and epic journeys. It is a gift to breathe life into vision. That takes skill, imagination, determination, heart, and lots of passion and undeniable faith.

So, the next time you read the jacket of a book, a review, a blurb, synopsis or a query letter, remember that the real story is more than just the idea, and the real magic lay between the pages. The same can be said about life – the real living happens in every small moment, not just the milestones – those are just the commercials.

What is your real story?

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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Who’s Got Your Ear?

Not many of us really think about whose advice we allow into our lives. It would probably surprise us if we actually took stock of who truly influences our decisions. So, if I can offer a small bit of wisdom that I learned early in my college days, I’d be happy. I use this bit of advice almost on a daily basis, because it’s become ingrained into my very being.

So, what is this little piece of wisdom?

1. Decide where you want to go, what type of person you want to be, and what it is you want to achieve.
2. Evaluate and list those that surround you, inspire you, and speak into your life.
3. Decide who in your life that encompasses the traits and characteristics that will help you achieve the goals listed in Step 1.
4. Separate from those listed in Step 2 that does NOT encompass those traits and goals.
5. Put your decisions into action.

This may separate you from your closest friends and family members, but the choice is yours alone. Do you want to stay where you are, surrounded by who you already know, or do you want to move forward? It may be selfish to apply this into your life, but YOUR life is YOUR life; and it can’t get more selfish than that. If you’re a true friend, you’d want your friend to be successful and achieve their dreams, but the reality is that most of us are not true friends. We surround ourselves with people that make us feel comfortable and better about ourselves, only rarely taking their feelings or aspirations into account on occasion.

Ask yourself these simple questions:
1. From whom should I take marital advice? Someone divorced several times or can’t seem to sustain a long-lasting relationship or someone who’s been married to the same person for several years and survived through several storms?
2. From whom should I take financial advice? Someone in bankruptcy or in debt up to their ears or someone who’s started from the bottom and worked their way to the top, who offers opportunities to others, and who gives more than they receive? Do you want to be rich or poor?
3. From whom should I take spiritual advice? Someone who doubts, who switches their faith with every whim, is swayed by every new fad or someone who stands firm on their faith in the midst of storms and among rainbows?
4. From whom should I take writing advice? Someone who runs wild with every new idea, but never seems to finish them, who believes their fellow writers are their competition and rivals instead of friends, who thinks themselves part of the artistic elite, filled with elitist snobbery and is above self- promotion and marketing, or someone who pushes through their labor of love, believes in themselves, and their talents, and takes their time to pour into others the wisdom and knowledge that have poured into themselves?

People like to talk. People like to give advice. But consider the ‘actions’ of those whom you allow to sow words of wisdom into your life. If they only SAY, but never DO, then perhaps you should find DOERS instead. Surround yourselves with people to whom you admire, respect and who encompass the traits, successes and character of the person you want to be. Follow someone who stands on their path and doesn’t allow their emotions to lead them with every whim, but always steps forward. Follow someone who has heart, who cares and loves success in others, who will pour out continually as they receive. Follow, as you learn to lead.

I’m learning to apply this bit of wisdom into my own life. I’ve recently

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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Writing Material

Where do you get most of your writing material?

I get some ideas from other stories I’ve read, some from movies I’ve watched, and some from the figments of my imagination. However, my greatest source of inspiration comes from the life I live, the people I love and the faith to which I cling.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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Write What You Want

One of the first pieces of advice most veteran writers will give fledgling and upcoming artists is to: Write what you know. That is excellent advice. Readers can spot fabrication easily, which doesn’t bode well for the writer.

The second piece of advice should be: Write what you want. It is my experience that unless I’m writing something that excites me, it becomes a laborious project, and resentment towards the project grows when I’m forced. How I feel while writing is often interjected into what I’m writing. I’m beginning to recognize this transference in what I’m reading, and becoming more aware of its possibility in my own work.

However, this writing method needs to be balanced with scheduled productivity in order to meet deadlines and achieve story completion. I learned very early in my writing career that you can’t just write when you ‘feel’ like it. What you ‘want’ to write has nothing to do with how you ‘feel’. What I mean about writing what you want, is writing the story that burns in your heart, that you can’t quit thinking about, the one your muse constantly sends inspiration, not whether you have an ache somewhere.

So, what do you want to write today?

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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Vabella Publishing

I’ve always heard the phrase that you need to strike the iron while it’s hot, and if I’ve seen anything searing these days, it’s the rapid growth of Vabella Publishing, and I can’t express how excited that makes me.

I met publisher John Bell in January 2010 when he was the scheduled guest speaker of the Carrollton Creative Writer’s Club (CCWC). At the time I was a published author with a company out of Florida, and an entrepreneur working 16-hour days. Needless to say, I enjoyed his presentation, but didn’t put much more thought into Bell or his company.

What a difference a few months can make. At a combined book signing with other CCWC members at Wiley’s Book Exchange, I again met John Bell, and was able to talk with him in more detail. He expressed with great desire his goals and how he’d like to see Vabella grow. Due to his level of passion, combined with my business experience, I found myself talking about distributors, contracts, websites, marketing and everything else I had learned about the publishing industry over the two years since I signed my first contract, and thus was born our publishing/author relationship.

After a few more months, being dissatisfied with the amount of time I had to market my debut novel, or write on my other subsequent novels, I sold my business and began the process of cancelling my contract with my previous publisher, and called John Bell. He seemed very happy, and invited me with open arms into the Vabella family. A few months after that, and a couple of rounds of edited galleys, my second book was published. At the time, Vabella boasted of nearly ten titles and authors. What a difference a year can make. Now Vabella has over twenty published titles and more than a dozen authors, many coming from the CCWC. I have recently published my fourth novel, and am working diligently on my fifth, and sixth and seventh.

As you can see …Vabella Publishing is simmering hot! I wish John and his family much, much success. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of such a wonderful company. I am also excited for my fellow authors who’ve also joined the Vabella Family. Congratulations and good luck to Dr. Robert Covel, Thomas Young, Rev. Harley Fiddler, Shelly Murphy, Rev. Daniel Patrick, Dr. Eleanor Wolfe Hoomes, Gary Spillers, Mary Wilburn, Jeanette Pickering, Georgia Adams, Jim Perry and Steve Davis.

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