What Makes a Hero?

Hi guys. I just wanted to share this story about an inspirational young man with big dreams. I hope you like it. I still need to go back and read the whole story, but was captivated by the title “Our Son, Our Hero.”

Do you have a hero in your life? Who is it and what makes them a hero? Although you could mention policemen, firemen and the men and women of our armed forces, I don’t really mean the everyday heroes like the military or law enforcement. I mean people who inspire you with their strength and how they live their lives. What’s your story?

Pop Quiz

Okay students, put your books away, it’s time for a pop quiz to see how much you’ve been reading my blog. It’s only 10 questions, and you better not cheat 😉

1. Where do I work?

2. What disability do I have and how long have I had it?

3. How do I get around the house and town?

4. What disease does my grandfather have?

5. What’s my favorite college football team?

6. What are two of my favorite foods?

7. What are a couple side effects I have because of my disability?

8. What two holidays mean a lot to me?

9. What’s the name of one poem I’ve written?

10. What’s one of my pet peeves when I’m out in public?

Author’s Roundtable: Roz Morris

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I don’t know when writing first got into me, but I became aware at quite a young age that I was supposedly disposed to it. Teachers commented that I had an overactive imagination; I was never happier than when in the company of page and pen. Penpals were treated to long and glorious texts, which they may not have appreciated quite as much as I enjoyed producing them.

My grandfather died and left a skinny portable typewriter with no letter T: “From ha day my bedroom resounded to furious hunder.” By backspacing I overlaid an l on an r, and then I was rattling away – though my oeuvre at the time was mainly science fiction, because it annoyed everybody, and especially my teachers. In particular the A-level English Literature teacher, who we all quailed before. While other teachers just taught, she evangelized, got inside her subject and made you believe literature was life itself, the single most important invention on the whole of planet Earth.

At the end of the summer term that year, there was a party. My English Lit. teacher cornered me, wanting to talk about the essay I’d done in the recent exams. I shuddered, wondering what crassness I’d committed. “You should write novels,” she said. And she meant me to take her seriously. 

What books or stories have you written?

I’ve ghostwritten nearly a dozen novels, but can’t tell you their names as they were written in secrecy. But I have two literary agents for my own work.

I have a writing book – Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence. It’s a short book to help you write a long one.

I’ve seen a lot of lengthy tomes about novel-writing, and I know that real writers would rather spend their time getting a novel finished, not procrastinating with instructions.

I’m also a book doctor and understand the panic a writer feels when I tell them they need to unravel their structure, or up the pace, or strip out the back story, or do more research, or use their material to serve the story, or merge characters, or sort out how many Tuesdays are in a week. I know they need a process to take their sprawling material and make a well-controlled novel, and to give them confidence if they have to change anything. So I wrote a book to hold their hand. You read a bit, do as it says, read a bit more… and follow until you have a finished novel.

I’ve also got a contemporary literary novel – My Memories of a Future Life. It was inspired by stories of past-life regression, where people are taken to a former life under hypnosis to try to solve a problem they have now. I thought, instead of going to a past life, what would happen if you went to the future? The person you contacted would have the problems gathered by you right now. And who would do that? It would have to be someone is scared her life is over now.

I was also inspired by the world of classical music. It’s an incredibly demanding life, and you could argue that playing a classical piece is almost like channelling the soul of the composer. I simply had to put the two of them together – and I wrote a story about a classical musician who is injured and can’t play any more, so she seeks help from a hypnotist.

I have another novel, Life Form 3, that I’m currently revising. It’s aimed at middle grades upwards – the kind of novel you could read from age nine to nine squillion. I can’t say anything else about it because it’s a high-concept idea, but you can expect similar preoccupations with truth, love, loss and questions about the nature of souls.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I don’t fit easily into genre slots. My writing book was considered too short by most publishers, even though its virtue is that it’s exactly the information a writer needs, no more and no less. My novel is literary but publishers were worried that it has a dash of science fiction. In fact it doesn’t – it’s no more science fictional as Margaret Atwood. But publishers don’t like new writers to bend genre rules.

Publishers also don’t like you to step outside the pigeonholes they already know you for. So because much of my ghostwriting was teen thrillers, agents and publishers assumed that was all I could do. That’s terribly narrow-minded because most writers can turn their hands to a number of styles and genres.  

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

1. Learn your craft as well as you can.

2. Don’t be in a rush to self-publish, even though it’s as easy as pie. In fact, I recommend writers to try the conventional publishing route first. Querying agents is the way to test if your work is up to standard. If you have near misses, the agent will tell you what you need to work on – and that advice is free. If you never hear from them or you only get form rejections, you’ve probably got a way to go and should probably work on your craft. An agent may end up not taking you on, and you may have to query a lot of them, but if you can’t get detailed attention from them at all you probably aren’t ready to publish on your own. 

3. Read a lot. That’s how you learn, by observing how other writers work their magic on you.

4. Gather other writers around you who can help you improve. Learn how to critique and find people who write what you want to write. Good, trusted critique partners are a writer’s best friends – they will tell you where you’re going wrong and what you’re doing brilliantly. They’ll also help you get back on the horse again after a knock-back from a publisher – which happens to us all.
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Writing is a personal quest. Some people write as therapy, to work out problems. Some write to create a memorial to an important time of their life, or a person. Some people write because it’s the way they feel most able to express themselves. I’m probably in the latter category. In real life I’m shy and private. I overthink, and I’m bothered by obtuse ideas that don’t make sense to anyone else. On the page I try to make sense of everything – and create something that shows people why I found an idea so important.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

What an interesting question. I probably can’t say whether anything has made me a better person; it’s not for me to judge. To understand the characters I write I’m sure I have become a more tolerant person, because I like my fictional people to be fully rounded, even when they are villainous.

I don’t think I’ve used writing to solve a problem as such, but I do realize that in the course of a novel I’ve come to understand more about what drives me. That makes it sound as though my characters are me in disguise – they are not, of course, but I use elements of my personality as a way to understand them. And so they end up making me see my own life – and the people around me – a little more clearly.

About Roz Morris

Roz Morris is a bestselling ghostwriter and book doctor. She blogs at nailyournovel.com and has a double life on Twitter; for writing advice follow her as @dirtywhitecandy, for more normal chit-chat follow her at @ByRozMorris.

My Memories of a Future Life is available on Kindle (US and UK) and also in print. You can also listen to or download a free audio of the first four chapters right here.

Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books And How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence is available in print and on Kindle.

Fresh Face

As most of you who’ve followed the blog since the beginning know, I’m an avid photographer and am almost always behind the camera. Very rarely am I the subject of a photograph, but this past week at a retirement party for a co-worker, somebody grabbed my camera and said something like, “Here let me take a picture of you. You’re always taking the pictures!!”

I must say that I take awful pictures because I hate being the center of attention, but this one came out pretty good I think. I hope you like it 🙂

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

I got this in my e-mail this morning from a very dear co-worker and wanted to share with my readers. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I share my own thoughts on a few of these. I hope you like them and can relate to some of them. I’d love to know which are your favorites and which ones you struggle with. Leave me a comment or e-mail me privately and share your story.

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Stop spending time with the wrong people. Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.

Stop running from your problems. Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.

Stop lying to yourself. You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves. Read The Road Less Traveled. (<- my favorite poem!! And on our bedroom wall… craziness!!)

Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.

Stop trying to be someone you’re not. One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.

Stop trying to hold onto the past. You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.

Stop being scared to make a mistake. Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.

Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.

Stop trying to buy happiness. Many of the things we desire are expensive. But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.

Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either. You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.

Stop being idle. Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place. Evaluate situations and take decisive action. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. Making progress involves risk. Period! You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.

Stop thinking you’re not ready. Nobody ever feels 100 percent ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.

Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.

Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.

Stop trying to compete against everyone else. Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.

Stop being jealous of others. Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. Ask yourself this: “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”

Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you. You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough. But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past. You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind or situation. So smile! Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.

Stop holding grudges. Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself! And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too. If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.

Stop letting others bring you down to their level. Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.

Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway. Just do what you know in your heart is right.

Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.

Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. Enjoy the little things because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.

Stop trying to make things perfect. The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists; it rewards people who get things done.

Stop following the path of least resistance. Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t take the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.

Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well. You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.

Stop blaming others for your troubles. The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.

Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out. But making one person smile CAN change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. So narrow your focus.

Stop worrying so much. Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.

Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.

Stop being ungrateful. No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for their’s. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Thankful Tuesday

I was getting off work this afternoon, and as I got off the elevator to go out to my van, I ran into a co-worker I haven’t seen in a few months. She saw me get off the elevator and actually held the door open for me. As we walked outside, the warm sun hitting my face on another beautiful, picture perfect Georgia day, we asked each other how work was going, and said we had a lot going on. She works on another floor and has people coming in and out of her office every day getting business licences or renewing them, and she told me that it usually picks up around this time of the month.

I mentioned to her that I’d just helped remodel our website and was having information overload because I had to read every city department’s content and make sure it was still accurate and make changes to it if I needed to. She said she loved the new site and told me what a good job I did on my part, and that really made me feel great inside because somebody appreciates the effort I show at work.

As we were standing there we got to talking about fishing, which is something I found out we both enjoy. We talked about how much we love bobber fishing and waiting on a little nibble, and how we tend to really set the hook like we got Moby Dick on the other end of the line. We shared a few fishing stories and before I knew it, 15 minutes had passed, but they were the most amazing 15 minutes I’ve had in a while.

Talking to my co-worker really made me thankful I can talk to my friends and co-workers and leave all the B.S. and stress of my job for a few minutes. I’m thankful I was able to share those few precious minutes with her and that we weren’t in a hurry with somewhere to go. We probably could’ve spent another 20 minutes talking, but I think we both wanted to beat the traffic… 🙂

Which reminds me, I sure am thankful I have two arms… stay tuned next week to know what I mean 😉


Beautiful Day

I know I’m behind on my posts, and I apologize. My supervisor was out the past week, and I had to hold things down at the office. Guess that’s what happens when people know they can trust you 😉

Anyway, today was one of the best days I’ve had in months, and I’m really feeling good. I’ve finally been able to put a big project to bed at work and, with the addition of my new seat cushion on my wheelchair, my body’s feeling better than it has in months. Nothing like getting a herd of elephants off your shoulders!!! Of course with spina bifida that could change any day. Muscle spasms in my legs, tummy aches that never end and the occasional back ache are enough to make me want to throw in the towel and throw my computer out the window. But with great friends, wonderful co-workers who support me when things get tough and a family who’s always there, I know I can kick anything in the butt.

I just hope Thursday’s prepared because if today was great, I have a feeling tomorrow’s going to be amazing. Later!!

Six Days to Life

I have never known six happy days in my life.

~ Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France and conqueror of much of Europe. ~

I have found life so beautiful.

~ Helen Keller, lecturer and writer who was blind and deaf from the age of 19 months. Helen Keller graduated from college and went on to champion the cause of blind and deaf people. ~

Most would assume that an emperor would have cause to be happy constantly and a blind and deaf person would have cause to be miserable constantly.

It’s not in the stuff outside, it’s the stuff inside that counts.

Sign From Above?

This morning while I was getting ready for work, I noticed a bird feather laying on my desk by my laptop. This is just one of several I’ve picked up the past few months, either while I was getting out of my van or getting back in after running in a store or getting off work. As I sat there looking at the feather, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a sign from up above that someone is watching out for me.

As most of you may know, if you’ve been a loyal reader the past year, my grandmother passed away in 2005 after a courageous fight with leukemia. When she was alive, she was one of my biggest supporters, always asking me when I would get an operation so I could walk and always making sure I finished my homework before I played at their house.

A part of me doesn’t miss her constant nagging about getting the operation, but my heart breaks every time I think about her, wishing she was still here to see how much I’ve accomplished. I still remember walking across my old high school gym to see her before I graduated high school and sitting right beside her at my sister, Amanda’s, graduation.

I really wish she’d been here to see me receive my college degree and be hired as the city of Marietta’s public information technician. She would have been so proud. At least I hope she would have been.

I can feel her right now, watching over me. Thank you grandma for everything you did for me and continue to do every day. I just wish I could have told you goodbye one more time and how much I love and respect you. You were one of my role models and heroes, for all the hell you went through. Dad and I talked about that the other day, about how we don’t think the leukemia killed you. That it was the damn doctors who couldn’t get their act together and kept you so damn drugged that you couldn’t heal from one thing without another medicine making you puke. Damn it I wish you were still here, grandma. I miss you so much!!!