Sodaro's Stories

November 30, 2015

30 Days of Author Gratitude: Color Notes

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:51 pm

*This was going to be my blog from yesterday, so I will post this one in the morning and my final 30 days blog this evening*

So chances are, if you have read many of my blogs or know me personally and have talked to me about writing at all, you know how much I love and depend upon my ColorNotes application on my phone. (It is free on Android and costs money on ithings, so yet another reason I will never go to the dark side and will stay Android.

So Color Notes is an amazing thing that lets you make little post-its, and it color-codes your post-its so that you can keep things organized. For example, on mine, the colors represent the following:
Yellow: general, Orange: Children’s Story ideas, Red: Articles I want to write, Green: Fiction (most used), Blue: Blog ideas, Purple: Poetry, Black: Doctorate (hmm…probably should take those off of there and have a new category, since Doctorate is no longer achievable), Gray: Non-fiction ideas, and White: things to check out/research. (I currently have 364 post-it’s…so perhaps it’s time to go through that and clean it up a bit).

It is great for those 2 in the morning ideas. Wonderful to use with speak to text when I am driving and get an idea. (Yes, safety first!!!). Works well as a grocery list (one I won’t leave at home on the counter because I have become one of those people who is never without her phone…sigh…)

So, yeah. I am grateful for ColorNotes. Anything that gets my ideas and keeps them safe…has my gratitude forever.

November 28, 2015

30 Days of Author Gratitude: My time

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 5:10 pm

Sometimes I get stressed out about how far behind I am on things. My NaNoWriMo word count, my Redeeming Trust edit, my non-fiction projects, my other novels, my weight loss goals, my grading, my bills….so many things to be behind on and it can cause so much anxiety, which is one of the best ways to make sure nothing gets done at all. Hey, you know what would really halt all progress and productivity???? Let’s have an anxiety attack caused by our own worries about not getting things done…that sounds helpful.

Every so often I have to remind myself, that as much as I am looking forward to my full-time author life…to my second career where I get to write and work on my novels and projects all day every day (and no one can tell me it’s a waste of time because it does pay the bills…as if that is the defining factor)…I am also aware that the deadlines I have now are no where near as stressful as the deadlines that will occur when author is the job title I put on my taxes.

The deadlines I have now are self-imposed and liable to change (sorry those of you waiting for Redeeming Trust, I promise I am working on it). They change with life stressors (of which there have been real doozies the past few months) and teaching responsibilities (as that is the current career that pays the bills). Deadlines that are self-imposed are a lot more flexible…and right now, with everything else going on, I am extremely grateful for them being bendy.

I am grateful for my having my time. I’m grateful for days like yesterday when I got to write all day and didn’t have to even open my computer, though again, I missed a day of gratitude blogging. I am grateful for 2 days ago when the day was all mine because I know in future years it will be different. But for now, I am grateful for my time.

November 26, 2015

30 Days of Author Gratitude: Gratitude

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 10:07 pm

So I figured today, of all days, I should state how grateful I am to be full of gratitude. I make mistakes in life…some that I would take back if I could…some that I have come to terms with…some that ended up leading to even better things. But through this entire journey…through the transition from teacher life to author life…from this path of discovering more of what makes me…well, ME…I have been grateful.

Bing Crosby in White Christmas (one of my favorite holiday movies, because of course it has Danny Kaye) told us that when we’re worried and we can’t sleep…we should count our blessings instead of sheep.

I used to get myself to fall asleep by thinking up alphabetic lists. Books that start with A, B, C, etc. Authors that start with A, B, C, etc. Movies that start…I think you get the point. Last Christmas when I watched Bing and Danny, this song really hit home with me and I started to list the things I am grateful for while I was falling asleep. Not surprising, my sleep has been more peaceful and I wake up feeling very grateful.

I also list my blessings on the way to work (when I am not talking to myself about plot points and such). I find it helps me deal with the less than considerate drivers and I get to work feeling peaceful and very very blessed…because despite everything that has happened…I am extremely blessed and even more grateful.

So on Thanksgiving, with the stuffing of faces and the gathering of loved ones (real or fictional, human or animal) I, once again, express my complete and total gratitude for this amazing life I am living and the people and things that are in this life.

30 Days of Author Gratitude: Pandora music

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 1:35 am

There are days when the monthly subscription to Pandora is the best money I have spent all month.

Pandora helps me as an author…I plug in and all of the thoughts and questions and plot lines for other stories and character chatter in my head…all settle down and listen to the music so I can focus on the story I am currently working on.

Pandora helps me as a teacher because I can dance in my chair as I grade and just get into a good zone where nothing else matters but getting through my assignment pile. (Please don’t interrupt the dancing…especially to ask me what I am dancing to…I may never get that grading zone back).

Pandora also helps me as an author because I can think about what songs would go well for a soundtrack on my stories. What would my characters like? What music would be playing as certain events happen? What is my character trying to say but the words aren’t coming out right?

Finally Pandora helps me as a coworker because sometimes people feel like chatting with others and this is lovely…but sometimes I would rather not chat.

Thanks Pandora!!!

November 24, 2015

30 Days of Author Gratitude: Driving Time

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 7:01 pm

Some of my best thoughts happen when I am driving in my Jeep. I would say that it’s a Jeep thing, but I also had success in every other car I have had, so this one is not a Jeep thing, but a Sodaro thing.

A lot of time when I am driving, I go through the things I am grateful for, which completely changes my mood and is usually my morning drive, helping me to get to work in a good mood and full of positive energy.

I work out plot points in my head…talk it out so I can hear what I am saying. I will either pull over and write them down, or use speak-to-text for Color Notes. Working through a plot block is not a reason to be unsafe.

I have “conversations” with my characters or my muse about this story or that. (I put conversations in quotes…I know it’s all in my head. I’m not a crazy person…I’m eccentric. :D)

I practice lectures or meeting notes on my drive. See what points I want to hit, what anecdotes I want to tell, what I can leave out…always nice to have a trial run with a captive audience.

I even give practice interviews for when my books win an award or when they are about to be turned into a movie or TV series. It’s going to happen and I need to be prepared 😀

I enjoy driving …I enjoy it even more in the Jeep…but I have always enjoyed the drive and the freedom. I enjoy talking things through, or when I am stressed…yelling things I could never say around people. It is a special kind of therapy and it works absolutely every time.



November 23, 2015

30 Days of Author Gratitude: Characters

Kind of along the same lines as my gratitude for readers blog, I suppose a novelist could have a book without characters…I am just not sure how that would work…

So I love my characters. I love to see what shenanigans they are going to get into in this chapter. Love to see what predicament they are going to solve. Love that they come visit me at odd and sometimes awkward times. Try having a conversation about your job performance and have a character come whisper in your mind some bit of dialogue which would be PERFECT for their next scene. And you don’t want to forget that bit of chat…but you also want to give your full, undivided attention to your boss. (My boss is completely supportive of my writing and would let me pull out my phone and put it in ColorNotes, but I try to not abuse this privilege.)

When I am going shopping…I see things and I’m like…ooh, Ali (Broken Trust/Redeeming Trust) would like that, or wow…that is TOTALLY something Lilly (Lucky Charms series, to be published) would like…or Chris should get that for Stacey…or that is something that needs to be in Seducing Cupid, to be published). While THAT is something for my serial killer, Aleena (Black Widow, to be published).

The good thing about having so many characters (and so many respective books) is that inspiration can hit for one or many of them, no matter where I go or what I am doing…consequently, this is also sometimes a bad thing. But I love my characters. I am grateful for them acting out scenes where my job is to just stay caught up and get it written down.

I always picture them in my head….like the world’s best picnic. They each have their own table, but they intermingle and are supportive of each other when it’s their turn to get published. Someday, I want a characteriture of my character picnic drawn. I will hang it over my desk in my office. (Okay, so I don’t currently have a desk or an office…but I will…and then I can put all my characters above it).

November 20, 2015

30 Days of Author Gratitude: Future Plans

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:45 pm
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“The future’s so bright…I gotta wear shades” (Timbuk3)

Sorry if this gets in anyone’s head…and I am not even sure if the artist meant it as positive as most people take it, but when I think about my future plans, this is the phrase that pops in my head.

I have had and continue to have an AMAZING teaching career. I keep meeting students and coworkers that my life would be incomplete without getting to know. I also know that I am not going to teach full time forever…and adding to that, I know I will never be able to completely walk away from teaching either.

My future is my books. I know this…maybe you didn’t hear me. I KNOW THIS. There are people in my life who don’t believe me. That’s okay…they like tangible things, and I’m not there yet…but I will be. There are also people who believe in me…either as an author or as someone who accomplishes goals, either one. And they keep me strong on those days when the negative thoughts get through my defenses.

I love when I have a conversation with someone, either virtual or face-to-face and they talk about my author life…about my books being my future…and they talk about it as matter-of-fact as if they were talking about tomorrow being Saturday. As if it was just a given and no other options were considered. I surround myself with these people. I talk to them about my characters and my story ideas and they give me feedback. (Sometimes they mention, “Hey…wouldn’t it be interesting for Ali (Broken Trust/Redeeming Trust) to meet Lilly” (Lucky Charms series, coming out in 2016). And at first I hesitate…and then I smile…that WOULD be amazing. (Thank you, Ashley Page).

It’s going to happen. It may be Broken Trust/Redeeming Trust. It may be the Lucky Charms  series. It may be a book I haven’t started yet (though I have started writing over 20…so maybe it is in that stack). One of my books is going to be the spark…and that fire that it ignites is going to be breathtaking. (I really should have thought through that metaphor…it makes me rather nervous to talk about fire and my books in the same sentence).  But grab your shades friends…because it’s going to be bright. Watch me.


November 19, 2015

30 Days of Author Gratitude: My Support Staff

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 1:56 pm
Tags: , ,

Being an author is a full-time job, like a full-time, more than 40 hour a week job — between the promoting and networking and selling and editing and finishing and publishing sometimes it is hard to find time to do the actual writing (not to mention doing all of this around the demands of another more than 40 hour a week full-time teaching job).

I hand write all my drafts (yes, I know this can seem archaic, but it is the system that currently works for me.) There is a therapy in the words filling up with ink, the pen is an extension of my hand and my thoughts, my characters acting and flowing from my mind to my arm through the pen to the paper. This is what works for me. People make fun of me for this and offer suggestions, for which I smile and say thank you. This works for me.

Part of the reason my system works for me is because of my support staff:

My mom, who types my handwritten drafts and hands out book cards to people she meets.

My reader, Jess T, who keeps on me for plot holes and inconsistencies and reminds me to FINISH SOMETHING so she has something to read.

The number of random people I text for the name of this motorcycle, that kind of wine, the name of this room in a house, does this character’s name sound okay, what should this one’s job be, how much water is there when someone’s water breaks (I love that these people just answer my random questions and take it all in stride): Jess T, Jess S, Lisa M, Julia V, Danielle J, Rene C, Angella Y, Chris A, etc. etc. etc. etc.

I do also use google and have the random questionable search history of any respectable author, but google is distracting, whereas with my resident experts a message away, I can put a big circle on my first draft and put ASK SO-AND-SO and then I can continue writing while so-and-so gets me the answer 😀

I love my system and I am so grateful to my support staff. Thank you for all you do.

November 18, 2015

30 Days of Author Gratitude: Notebooks

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:49 pm
Tags: ,

So with my pen obsession (if you’ve seen my collection, you know this is an accurate term…if you haven’t seen it…trust me, it fits) it seems natural to also be grateful for the paper in the beautiful pen-to-paper combo that makes up as much of my present as possible and all of my future.

I can say one of the most exciting bits of the new idea process is picking out the notebook for that project. There is just an innate knowledge of what notebook will work for a project and when you see it, you’ll just know. (Did I just make an analogy between notebooks and pornography?? hmm…)

Once you find THE notebook, there is a moment of “ahhhh” when you open the cover and there it is — the first blank page — the alpha to your project or novel — the beginning of a new journey. What pen to use to start it off? Grab a couple…don’t write yet, just see what feels right. I might hold a pen for a moment or two before I put pen to paper for the first time, knowing the instant pen meets paper, it is off to the races and what was a blank page in a notebook is now a start to a novel or project.

I know that people who can create on a computer save themselves a few steps since they don’t have to their draft typed, but I just don’t think it would ever be the same for me — the whole notebook/pen ceremony as compared to the opening of a new Word document.

November 17, 2015

30 Days of Author Gratitude: Pens

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:32 pm
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So, I love pens. I mean, like, I LOVE PENS. It’s definitely an occupational hazard as an author, especially one who writes everything out by hand…and when I find a pen I like, I buy it in multiples because heaven forbid my pen runs out mid-chapter (this happened once, when I was out writing in public and my black pen ran out of ink and I only had a blue one with me…I still think about that black and blue chapter to this day and shudder.)

It always makes me nervous when people buy me pens, or I see people with pens, or a waitress brings me a pen and expects it back…because I want to test out the pen…Is this pen “Michelle approved” and if so, what category will it fall under…

Categories of pens? you ask? Oh, yes…and they are:

  1. Public — these are ones that people CAN borrow (see previous blog involving Bic stic pens). They are pens that I will not hunt the person down and/or end the friendship if these pens are not returned.
  2. Casual use — these will be used for journalling or notes or to-do lists
  3. Special pens — these are mostly just pretty and important to me because of who gave them to me, and are not generally used. They sit in a separate mug where I can admire them and feel as if my friend is in the room with me while I write.
  4. Private stash — these are not lent out (I love you, but no.) These have proven their worthiness and have passed the test and are used for chapters, page after page smooth lines where I don’t have to go back every third word and go over this letter or that letter.

I am so grateful for my pens (and pencils, I don’t want to leave them out, but they are sometimes smeary, and that is not okay for chapters)

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