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Monday, April 30, 2012

This Week

I've waited a year for this.
  • This is the week when I escape my writing cave. I'll shield my eyes from the brightness of the sun and then walk into a room filled with hundreds of strangers.
  • This is the week that replenishes my creative spirit. I'll listen to stories of inspiration and hear the tales of success and publication.
  • This is the week that reminds me that I'm not alone in this writing endeavor. So many others take the same path; I just never see them, as the rest of the year I'm locked away in my fortress.
  • This is the week that confirms I'm a little bit crazy for all the work I do. With success and failure abound, I'll be surrounded by more writing degrees than Publishers Weekly. It's intimidating to think that my work will be compared against theirs. 
  • This is the week that tells me it's worth it. I learned last year that my writing strikes a chord with people; that its lyrical flow and sensual prose encourages curious investigation.
This week, I'll learn new skills. This week, I'll make new friends. This week, I'll discover new books. This week is LDStorymakers. See you there!

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Own Pace

In another life, at another time, I was a runner—a sprinter. I ran the 100m, the 200m, and the 400m. My favorite race was the 200m; however, my best race was the 400m.

The guys I raced typically competed in the same events, and they were faster than me in the quick sprints. In the 100m, they beat me easily. I didn’t have the takeoff speed needed to excel in that race and, usually, I was speeding up at the finish line. In the 200m, we were more equally matched. I would start off slower than them and then make up what I had lost in the turn around the home stretch. One particular race we had a five way tie for the win. The photo finish was incredible. It looked like one runner with several arms and legs flailing from their torso.

Then there was the 400m. Imagine sprinting for a quarter mile and you can imagine my chagrin every time I lined up for that race. It was about 50 seconds of speed and several hours of misery afterward. To this day, I cringe at the memories of the pain that came after the finish line. Win or no, that race was torture!

Most of the 400m runners didn’t understand that the race required strategy. From the gun, they would give everything they had, sprinting as fast as they could around the track. At the end of 200m, they would hit a “wall” and lose all the advantage they had built up. By 300m, there was nothing left for those racers but burning lungs and regret about entering the race in the first place. Not me. I sprinted at full speed for the first 100m and then slowed down and “coasted” along the straightaway. That may sound strange to you, considering this was a sprint, but that was the plan. My abilities required a different strategy than my competition. I ran at my own pace.

At 200m, I turned on my wheels. Giving everything I had again felt like a brand new race. I easily passed one or two runners before the end of the curve and slowly gained ground on the other 3 during the last 100m. By the finish, I was hurting (oh, you can’t imagine the pain), and either won the race or came in second. I never finished third.

I share this story because life is a lot like the 400m. Most people will try sprinting as fast as they can, attempting to run through life at the same speed as the person next to them. Some will keep up for a while, but then their lack of preparation, planning, or ability catches up to them and they hit the “wall,” unable to advance at the swift speeds of which they began. Soon they are passed by and left to struggle just to finish. Those people become forgettable and often change goals and ambitions.

I admit: falling into last place for that second 200m was torture. I imagined horrible things that people in the stadium must have been thinking as they watched me run. To them, I was the loser at that point. To fall behind so early must have meant that I was slow or unqualified for the event. Why had I even entered? After a couple races, however, the 400m became mine. Why? Because I ran at my own pace.

I encourage you all to take note of what you can do. know your abilities. Be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses. Be honest with yourself and proceed through life at a pace that you determine, not your competition. Set a strategy and stick to it. When you reach your goal, the race will have been yours to claim.

~ Jamie

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Contest Winners

I’m pleased to announce several contest winners.

First, from the contest a couple week ago: Jamie won a signed copy of ON FALLEN WINGS! Jamie has already received her copy. I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of the book.

The correct answer for the $20 giftcard to amazon.com is twenty-seven. Aisling has twenty-seven faeries. Congratulations to Becky!
This week’s winner of a signed copy of ON FALLEN WINGS is Laura. Way to go!
The winner of a Signed ON FALLEN WINGS bookmark is Esther. Woohoo!
The winner of an ON FALLEN WINGS mouse pad is Nicole. Yay!

The giving isn’t over. I’ll announce another contest here next week. If you have any ideas for cool swag that you would like to see in a contest, leave a comment below. I can have almost anything made up, and I’m happy to do it. There’s also a giveaway on goodreads. Here are the details for that one.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

On Fallen Wings by Jamie McHenry

On Fallen Wings

by Jamie McHenry

Giveaway ends May 08, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


Have a great day. Until next time, happy reading!
~ Jamie

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Backstory

Hidden deep in my files is the first book I wrote, SUN SEASON BANDITS, which will never be published. The story follows two brothers who are mysteriously transported to an ancient village, Aisling. I wrote the book during the spring and summer of 2009. The writing wasn’t very good; however, this book began my re-introduction to writing and allowed me to discover that I could create a full-length novel. As I built the plot and the characters, more and more questions came to me regarding the history of this place. There are three scenes in this book where the main character, Sam, meets and interacts with a sad young woman, Rhiannon.
I want to share a piece of one of those scenes with you. It’s important because, at the time I wrote this, I had no idea what her story was. What you see here is what I saw. Once I answered the questions posed in the background of this scene, I discovered that her tale was more interesting than the one I had already penned. Incidentally, Sam Teagan is named after my youngest son. He makes an appearance in FROM RISING FLAMES and will have an important role later in the series.

“Don’t tell yourself that, Sam. You’re better than that.” Rhiannon leaned back, took a deep sustaining breath, and then stared at the sky before looking back at him. “You are what you choose to be, what you act upon. No birthright or assigned order of life determines how you will act when the moment of challenge arrives in your path. Everything that you are inside, at that moment, will blossom and fantastic consequences that only you may imagine will emerge. Heroes are chosen by their challenges. Sam, your destiny is built by the course you set, by the deeds you weave, and by the trail that you leave behind you.”
“What should I do?”
“Confront the challenge,” said Rhiannon. “Find your brother and help him escape. You will be successful.”
Sam grinned. His fingers shook. Her encouragement created a small burning flame near his stomach that warmed his blood with anxiety. No one had ever given him this much encouragement; it felt satisfying. He leaned forward and closed his eyes, allowing ideas to flood his mind.
Sam lifted his head and smiled intently at Rhiannon. “I know what to do.”
She smiled back and then tousled Sam’s hair with her fingers. “You will be our hero. You, Sam Teagan, will save us from this nightmare. Because tonight, under these stars and in the village of dreams, you made the choice to be strong.” Rhiannon gripped his hands and smiled before standing to leave. “You should rest. Tomorrow is going to be very exciting.”
“Rhiannon?” he asked. “What about Darian? Who is he?”
“He’s a stranger. He doesn’t belong here.”
“He said something about scrolls,” said Sam.
Rhiannon sniffled and fought back tears, but answered him. “They are the Fae Scrolls,” she said. “They are very special. They contain our history and sacred rites. They were taken, stolen, long before you arrived.” She covered her mouth as tears crept down each cheek.

Every story has a beginning. ON FALLEN WINGS began here. Happy reading.

~ Jamie