I’m Alive!

 

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It’s that time of year, again! Happy Mother’s Day! I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy in early 2008! After many months at 28% EF, there was no improvement although the shortness of breath and what felt like heart attack seemed under control with meds.

The doctors told me at best I’d need a transplant but basically the last words were “get your affairs in order.” This photo was taken a few days ago in Istanbul Turkey. This year I sold everything and decided to travel and visit all the places I write about in my books! I’m now in my fourth month!! I’ve written my personal story it’s available on Amazon LOVE the Beat Goes On, and has inspired many! But I’m writing this to let you know not to give up hope!!!

I went to work with a shaman in Arizona in 2008. I never had a transplant nor any operations. The last thing I did before I started this trip was to visit my cardiologist in Puerto Vallarta where I lived. He said “you will always have some left bundle blockage but your heart is functioning at 86% normal! And it’s been that way for several years! Live and enjoy your life!”

This is what I wish for all of you!

 

How do you do that thing you do so well?

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It’s a common question asked by those who want to write a novel. I hear this all the time on Quora. Where do you begin? How? Where do you get your ideas? Do you plot? Do you ‘wing-it?’ How do you do that thing you do–so well?

Let’s talk about my latest release, SILK ROAD Code Raven 6. It’s a great example of my personal writing process and may help you to get started on yours!

It starts with a word. I asked a friend, fellow author, to give me a country. In this case, it was Kyrgyzstan–a country that had no meaning to me. If you’re familiar with the Code Raven Series, you would know that not only do I love my characters and develop them further with each story, but I also love to take them to different countries around the globe to get into–and out of–trouble!

In my research about Kyrgyzstan, I came across the history of how this country was once a part of the Soviet Union. I already had a rough idea of the Russia/Asia part of the world but didn’t know much about the terrain. If you are anything like me, once you go on the world-wide-web, one search turns into another, and another, and before you know it, you’re off on a tangent for no particular reason. In my case, my interest was piqued by the crime lords who moved in to fill the void of a legitimate government. Corruption of all types runs rampant in this predominately Muslim country.

At this point, I became intrigued by the historical implications of this centuries-old area and the original Silk Road–the trading route moving through Asia from the East to the West.

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Without giving away the plot, let’s just say that I became intrigued by the human condition and in particular how turmoil and greed affect women and children around the globe.

HERE’S MY PROCESS:

  1. Out comes the excel spreadsheet. 
  2. Usually, I reprint the Characters names across the top of the sheet so I don’t mix up attributes, history, or activities, timelines, etc. This is important when writing a series. You would work the same way as you introduce new characters in your novel even if it’s a stand-alone book. I also used this process on my memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On
  3. Chapters numbers down the left side column.
  4. Next column a key phrase to summarize what will happen in that chapter.
  5. The next column will give more detail, possibly a paragraph of key events.
  6. In the planning stages, I might color code the chapters. If it’s fiction and action, I might color code an action event RED, something that moves the plot along in YELLOW, and a relatively soft aspect, emotional, resting chapter might be soft green. This way you can make sure you don’t lose your reader by dropping the pace. Inevitably all my reviewers say this series is ‘fast-paced.’ You want that when writing a mystery. Otherwise, your fans will get bored and put your book down! We want them to read it in “one sitting!”
  7. The chapters continue down the page until the end.

Why a spreadsheet?

I use this concept if I’m writing Action/Adventure/Mystery or Contemporary Romance or Non-fiction like my memoir. Why?

  1. It’s easy to cut-and-paste therefore changing the sequence of events, or slotting in a new chapter!
  2. You can see the entire story in one place. 
  3. The spreadsheet allows you to edit the events along the way inserting, expanding where you find your plot to be weak.

My process is always fluid. I never set a rigid plot.

Sometimes I start with one idea and watch the following events move down the page. The thoughts, ideas I have may never make it to the final story. But here’s the key: one idea leads to another, and another, and another. And my story starts to take shape from that original one word. Example:

Silk Road. Trade. Smuggling. The new Rail service from the coast of China all the way to London, England! Think about the potential here. Imagine all the events that could happen along the way! And that’s how the story moved along. And then I found activities in the Maldives that I decided to connect. And one of my main characters, Zach was summoned to Washington DC by the frightening pleas from a SEAL friend he served with in his Afghanistan/Bin Laden days.

Here’s a couple of teasers so you get a feel for the final story:

A former Navy SEAL gets a terrifying message from his estranged daughter. “I’m desperate! I need your help, Dad. Bring your friends!”

“They stole my baby Daddy! They’ve got my boy!” Will a team of ex-SEALs break US law to exact revenge?

A teenager is abducted in Kyrgyzstan. Has she become one of many kidnapped brides? Or is something far more frightening going on? The corrupt authorities ignore the parents’ pleas for help.

A new Silk Road train stretches from the eastern shores of Yiwu China to London, England. Its precious cargo is not what’s written on the manifest.

When two young children are abducted in the middle of the night from Raven’s sanctuary in the Maldives, Luci, Luke, and the Raven Group will stop at nothing to get them back.

Are all these horrific events linked?

If I’ve peaked your interest and you want a great read, written in the style of Lee Childs, David Baldacci, or Clive Cussler, get your copy on Amazon: Silk Road

 

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How did your marriage end?

 

Which one?

I’m the eternal optimist. I tried 3 times to get it right. All I got right was that happiness is more important than success, prestige, or money.

The first time I married because my very first boyfriend waited for me while I ran off to become a missionary nun—stop laughing, read my memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On . Yes, I felt guilty. When I returned a year later, I married him—I do remember a fight in the parking lot where I threw my engagement ring across the pavement. That was probably a big clue that I chose to ignore.

Six months later, we were having one of our frequent arguments. He tried to smother me with a pillow. I was 20 years old. I left with my suitcase the next day. Divorced at 21.

My second brilliant choice was a man 15 years older than me, suave, handsome, a traveler, sophisticated…and a gambler, and a control freak. Yes. I didn’t throw that diamond ring anywhere—he stole it and pawned it presumably because he needed the money to gamble. I left him several times, but he kept finding me. He got me fired from a job, evicted from an apartment, actually broke into my apartment telling the landlord I was a drug addict and not answering my phone! I’ve never even smoked a joint although my friends tell me I don’t know what I’m missing.

I left him in the middle of the night, with a suitcase, and my Old English Sheepdog. I definitely loved the dog more than the man. He’d threatened to kill the dog if I left him.I had to leave the city and the province to hide from him. My mother called me one day a few years later and said I better divorce the guy. He’d just been arrested for bank fraud and probably forged my name somewhere along the way.

The third one lasted a long time. He’s the father of my children and we are still friends. But one night at the end of a very unhappy relationship where we kept trying to make it work, I fell in love. I packed a suitcase and got on an airplane and moved to a new country. I’d like to say I lived happily ever after. But that’s not the way life is. That journey called life/living/ is filled with ups and downs. Some of us get lucky and find Mr. Right and others only ever find Mr. Right Now.

And then, when you think that part of your life might be passing you by, someone comes into your life, a totally inappropriate relationship, not from a different city, or a different province, or a different country but a totally different continent and reminds you that life is short. We have to take our happiness where we can find it.

The moral of my story is I still believe in LOVE.

What things should one be good at in order to become a good writer?

Lynda Filler
Lynda Filler, Top Quora Writer 2018 Winner of Best in Contemporary Fiction 2017 BTRC at Writers and Authors (2009-present)

Be Brave. You have to be able to open your heart and pour out your feelings. It doesn’t matter what genre you’re in. Let it flow. Be Brave.

Be Bulletproof. Some people choose not to read their reviews. I read them and on Goodreads thank the writers. But I still remember words used to describe my first JET, an action ex-Mossad female assassin. A reader said I’d turned her into a “horny slut.” Today I laugh, then, it wasn’t funny. I thought I “humanized” her. Don’t let the haters get inside your head.

Be Curious. It doesn’t matter what. It’s curiosity that has kept me traveling the world in my stories. I LOVE taking my characters to different places in my work whether it’s action or contemporary romance. They live in my mind and I live in their worlds. It’s great fun and takes me to places I didn’t know exist. My current WIP starts off in Kyrgyzstan, moves to Paris, then the Maldives… and on and on. Research, photos, travel, it’s all part of my curiosity about people, places, and issues.

Be Passionate. Don’t write it if you aren’t enjoying the words and the process. A friend recently told me he trashed 87 chapters. Now for me, that would be 100k but for him, it could be 250–300k words. That’s a lot of work and love to decide it’s not worthy of finishing.

Be Gentle. Writing is not for the faint of heart. Believe in yourself. Love what you do. Let no one be a bully to your talent or your belief in you. Self-talk is key in any work/game/sport/job.

And most of all, remember the Little Engine That Could, if you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t…you’re probably right.

Enjoy the journey

is the destination

Inspired by Vashti Q

I think sometimes we are in such a hurry to get “there” that we forget to enjoy the journey.

This past 8 months I set goals for myself. Not only writing goals, projects to accomplish and books to publish, but I attached quantitative unit/financial goals to my writing. I’m enjoying watching the sales growth in all aspects of my business. But also I’m satisfying that business-woman part of me that likes to learn the “why” and the “how” of blogging, newsletters, marketing, FBooking, Twittering…haha, yes, I also have my own creative language that goes with my stats.

I’ve made so many new friends, authors, trainers, teachers, gurus and PA and even VA. If I have to explain those last two terms, you need to email me! And I will give you the pep talk you deserve!! I’ve learned that FB is not just for posting sexy, raunchy photos, witty notes and stunning photos of sunrises…oh, and meeting “interesting” young men. It’s a great place to network and study the habits of highly successful authors who understand and have developed their business to the point where they run financially viable enterprises.

As some of you know, with the introduction of Lie To Me an exposé on sex for money I’ve officially come out of the closet. Yes, I’ve accepted the fact that I might be a romance writer. I thought I was writing suspense, sometimes mystery/suspense and then TARGET in the Sun won Best in Contemporary Fiction 2017– I had to look up the definition of “Contemporary Fiction.” I was about to release Lie to Me and found myself blushing as I described its contents. I’m now able to admit out loud, it’s “steamy.” I’m over myself. I accept the raunchy romantic side of me and gleefully throw my thoughts down on paper and just go for it.

So, after struggling with my internal demands to make my authoring business financially viable, I decided to continue learning, growing and maturing as both a writer and an authorpreneur. And yes, I am truly enjoying the journey. I hope you are too!

If You WANT IT…

 

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…Just Keep Doing It

I read recently that the reason the majority of people fail at things in life is that they quit too soon. I know this feeling well. I’ve been writing or should I say publishing, for two years now. I published poetry first in earlier years, but novellas, novels, and my memoir have all been in the last two years, going on three. I found myself sighing in frustration a couple of months ago. I LOVE writing and have no challenges coming up with plots. And I would say that in the last year, my writing is so much better, less disjointed, better focused, and seems to require less editing–another good sign.

However, as an Indie Author, so much of success is attached to marketing and marketing is so time-consuming. There were moments when I allowed the thought to enter my mind to stop. Go back to the joy of writing and story-telling, and forget trying to make it a viable income option. Then I laughed at myself. Really? I’m having far too much fun losing myself in my characters and interacting with readers and of course other authors.

Instead, I decided to make charts and become more aware of my wins. So I keep excel spreadsheets and celebrate each increase every month in all areas of publishing. I’ve become better at organizing and allotting time to each task and I use my Gratitude Jar to deposit slips of papers with my successes every day. A big one was learning to use Mail Chimp and navigating through the process of publishing my first News Letter. And don’t laugh, but after over two years playing with my blog, I finally realized where the “link” symbol is!!! I know you’re smiling. But I’m super proud of myself for that!

One of the things that have helped me be successful at everything I’ve attempted to do is self-belief and self-confidence. I listen to videos (yes, listen) while I put my makeup on in the morning, always eager for motivation and knowledge. That’s one of the reasons I like to share Evan Carmichael’s videos from his Believe Nation YouTube channel. Here’s my latest share for you.

Jim Parsons is an American actor, familiar to many but not to me. I don’t watch TV but rather download programs or catch them on Netflix. I found his attitude refreshing and funny. Here’s his top ten.

  1. JUST BE YOU
  2. JUST KEEP DOING IT
  3. FIND YOUR CALLING
  4. DON’T COMPARE YOUR SUCCESS
  5. SEIZE YOUR MOMENT
  6. FIND YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS
  7. JUST SAY YES!!
  8. GET CONFIDENCE FROM HARD WORK
  9. LOVE STORYTELLING
  10. HAVE FUN

 

Find the interviews here:  https://youtu.be/8_e-m0I288c

If you want it, just keep doing it!

Have a creative week!

 

A slice of my life can be found on Amazon in my memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On.

On how to improve your writing skills

 

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I’ve been asked on Quora how I improve my writing skills. A good question don’t you think?

 

  1. Writing is learned by reading—and writing. So the first thing to do would be to read more. This month I will produce a 25000-word novella—I’m at 8000 words today, and I will probably have read 6 novels or more before year-end.
  2. I have over 650,000 views on my Quora answers. I started writing on here a few months ago, I think in the summer. I always write my answer on this page, then copy/paste to Word to check grammar and spelling. As an author I have certain mistakes I make over and over again—a stubborn slow learner. Then I correct the essay and copy/paste back. In these last few months, my organizational skills have improved, my sentence structure and grammar have advanced. Now I can write an answer and if I’m in a hurry, I post. Quora has definitely helped me work on my writing skills.
  3. If you have a style like I do, or your writing has been compared to certain authors, hone your style and do so by reading everything the other mentor/authors have written. For example, with the release of my first novel I was compared to Lee Childs, David Baldacci, and Clive Cussler. Not too shabby. I read the latest Childs and Baldacci books over the past two weeks. So find your style and get better and better at it.
  4. If you are published as I am on Amazon.com: Lynda Filler: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle read your reviews. And not just the good ones. I struggled with an aspect of one of my books, the readers picked up on the same challenge. So although my reviews are high 4.4/5 I recognized an issue and I eliminated it in the next book. So fans may love your message but are quick to let you know where you can improve. They will let you know what you do right and what you do wrong. They offer invaluable feedback.

You “Reach” Me

Do you have authors that you love? You’re so obsessed with their work that you’ll read anything they write? These authors are my Saturday-night-dates and my all-nighters. And they are the only guys occupying my bed these days–by choice!

#1 is Lee Child #2 Daniel Silva #3 David Baldacci #4, Russell Blake. I could go on but you can see I have a type.

I published my first novella JET-Exposed, fan-fiction for Kindle Worlds in 2015. I have four novellas now based on the USA Today Bestselling author, Russell Blake ‘s JET Series  One of my first reviewers wrote:

Lynda Filler: “The author’s style is reminiscent of Clive Cussler, Lee Childs or Baldacci.” Her words motivate and inspire me to do a better job with each book that I write. 
I answer questions on Quora. The number one question to show up on my page every other day is: How do I become a good writer? And the answer is: READ! And of course, WRITE. Read anything that appeals to you. I inhale my books. They become part of my writing DNA. I write what I love to read. And when I can’t write, I get that craving… like something’s missing in my life.
I started the latest Jack Reacher (#22) last night. I will finish it today. Usually, I go right through it in a day. But I wanted to savor this one. It’s his best Reacher yet! Others may not agree. But I’m sure you never think of highlighting a fast-paced mystery/suspense book…but this one is all (kindle) marked up. The Midnight Line does all the things I love. It addresses a serious social issue: the opioid epidemic. And another cause, obviously close to Lee Child’s heart–what happens to our veterans when they return from war zones and get out of the military?
This novel reached out to me, grabbed my heart and had me in tears. There’s something so much deeper than mere entertainment going on this novel.
It’s the best Reacher yet!

 

Follow Your Bliss

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© Lynda Filler Photography    Porto, Portugal

 

Follow Your Bliss

 

flaming amber mane

flying over banisters, ledges,

stairs you climb in your haste to kiss me

 

I smile

eager for a nuzzle

books lined up in doorways

“this shop is mine!” I cry

“you can’t fly, you silly ninny!”

I giggle as your chocolate eyes look solemnly into mine

 

I stroke your horse’s head

you shake your body, stand your ground and neigh

 

only in my dreams

do I make books,

and passionate horses fly

 

but why, dear girl,

do you deny flight light?

surely you must know

limitations exist

only in the confines of your mind

 

© Lynda Filler